Canada’s Charles Philibert-Thiboutot was introduced in the men’s 3,000m at last Sunday’s New Balance Grand Prix as the Pan-Am 1,500m champion, an accolade he said he will never get tired of hearing. Starting his 2024 season with two personal bests in the mile and 3,000m, Philibert takes to the track again Sunday in the men’s Wanamaker Mile at the 2024 Millrose Games in New York City.
“It was one of the best moments in my career,” says Philibert-Thiboutot on hearing the Canadian national anthem at the 2023 Pan-Am Games. “Some athletes will go their full career without achieving that, and I did not take the moment for granted.”
At the John Terrier Classic on Jan 28 in Boston, Philibert-Thiboutot became Canada’s second-fastest and oldest sub-four-miler (33), but his age isn’t something he thinks about. “Frankly, I disregard my age,” says Philibert-Thiboutot. “I am trying to run for a medal in Paris and if I am going to beat some 23-year-old that’s obsessed about track and field, I need to put myself in the mindset of a 23-year-old.”
Philibert-Thiboutot is a student of the sport, and always has been. He spent the day before his race at the New Balance Grand Prix watching the U.S. Marathon Olympic Trials and catching a stream of the World Athletics Indoor Tour meet in Metz, France. He likes to get things right, and has had the same coach, Felix-Antoine Lapointe, for nearly 15 years. “We both know what’s best for me, and our relationship feels like a collaboration,” says Philibert-Thiboutot. We are very much in sync in terms of knowing what type of training my body needs to respond well.”
In his last two races, the Quebec City native has come up just shy of Canadian records in the 3,000m and mile, but with his ticket already punched in the men’s 1,500m to the Paris Olympics and next month’s World Indoor Championships in Glasgow, he’s confident a breakthrough performance will come. “I have never felt stronger or faster, and for me, that’s what matters,” says Philibert-Thiboutot.
While Philibert-Thiboutot has showcased versatility by competing in both the 1,500m and 5,000m at the Pan-Am Games and 2023 World Athletics Championships, he plans on narrowing his focus in Paris. “I think it’s getting more clear that I am a pure 1,500m runner,” he says. “In the 1,500m, I think I have the tools to medal and be in the hunt, and even if I have an off day, I am not going to be 10 seconds behind.”
With his main focus being on the 1,500m this season, he still has goals of racing more on the roads. “I want to race more 5Ks and 10Ks next year, and we will see about longer distances than that,” he says. “I will run a marathon before I retire. It’s probably going to hurt, but I want to complete the distance.”
On the subject of his hypothetical marathon, he said he thinks he could run a 2:16-2:18 right now. “I could probably go through the half in 63 and have my wheels completely fall off several kilometres later,” he laughs. “I won’t pretend that I could run 2:10 or 2:14 right now; that would be something I would have to train really well for.”
Philibert-Thiboutot will line up in the men’s mile against North American record holder Yared Nuguse and world road mile champion Hobbs Kessler, who is coming off a win over 2022 world 1,500m champion Jake Wightman at the New Balance Grand Prix.
You can stream the 2024 Millrose Games on Sunday, Feb. 11 on NBC, NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock, starting at 1 p.m. ET. The men’s mile will be the last race of the Games, beginning at 2:53 ET.