Gabriela DeBues-Stafford is coming off the year of her life. In 2019, she set broke eight Canadian records and moved across the world to Glasgow, Scotland, to pursue her dream of becoming one of the best runners in the world. During her year there, she ticked almost every box she had for herself performance-wise, including a sixth-place finish in the world championship 1,500m final. But personally, she missed home. On Wednesday, she announced that when it’s safe to do so, she’ll be joining the Bowerman Track Club based in Portland, Oregon.
The Toronto native has been stationed out of her childhood home for most of COVID-19 after returning to Canada from Scotland on March 25. Since then, DeBues-Stafford has had younger sister and Canadian 1,000m U23 record-holder Lucia Stafford to train with on her old stomping grounds. DeBues-Stafford says when she left Scotland in March, she intended to return, but after spending a month in Toronto, it became clear that she and her husband needed a change. “There were some question marks at the point about how sustainable it was for me and my husband to stay in Scotland. We were still committed to going back when we left, but the longer we were in Toronto, it became clear that we needed something different.”
DeBues-Stafford settled on Bowerman shortly thereafter and began the transition to so-called “Jerry Workouts,” named after the team’s head coach Jerry Schumacher. “It was really exciting that Jerry and the team were willing to work with me. Then there’s the draw of Shalane [Flanagan] as well, and most importantly, being closer to home. I didn’t want an ocean to separate me from my family anymore.”
The world championship finalist realized that she’d felt a little isolated in Scotland. “I want to participate more actively in the Canadian running community and I want to be able to see my family more often. Those are things I really missed and can have more easily now. I think, longterm, Bowerman will be a better fit.” On top of those personal reasons, DeBues-Stafford says she sees the Bowerman group as highly diverse in their talents. “There’s a lot of success in a range of distances from the 800m through to the marathon. Looking at longevity, I’ll want to play around with longer distances. Jerry’s program is versatile, so I can work with different runners depending on what distance I’m attempting.”
DeBues-Stafford says the transition has been smooth so far, but that she won’t take the real plunge and move to the U.S. until the fall. “The workouts are going well, the mileage is a bit higher in the Bowerman group than I’m used to, but we’re increasing it slowly. For now, I’m still in Canada while we sort out visas and wait for the borders to open. The process of moving is underway, but it’s a bit of a moving target right now. I’m hoping for September.”