Michael Gill, 41, broke the Ontario M40 10,000m record of 31:07, which had stood since 1982, with his 30:45 and third-overall performance at the 14th Annual London 10,000m meet in London, Ont. last Friday, racing against men in their 20s and 30s. (The winner was Matthew Travaglini of Alberta, who won the Canadian College Athletic Association cross-country championship last year, and the second-place finisher was Adam Hortian of Kitchener, Ont., a fixture of the distance scene in southern Ontario.)
Targeting the M40 10,000m record wasn’t the focus of his training this year, Gill told us, despite planning to compete at that meet since January. “I had not attempted a challenge of Ken Inglis’s M40 10,000m record of 31:07 in my time as an M40,” Gill says. “Heading into 2019 I felt that, with some work, I could possibly target sub-15 for 5K, but it would be tough. The latter third of the race, whether a 5K or 10K, is where I would tend to lose a little steam and focus.”
Gill’s story reflects a common theme among masters runners: they start training with a new coach, and see dramatic improvements in their results. (Pennsylvania-based phenom Gene Dykes, who was in a position to contest Ed Whitlock‘s M70 marathon record five years after meeting him as a starstruck fan, is another great example.)
Gill happened to meet coach Walter Faion in February, and started training with him. “[Faion’s] tailored and targeted workouts have developed a new gear and sharpness to my training…” says Gill. “Prior to connecting with Walter, I thought sub-32 was certainly possible, and if things went really well, maybe a lifetime PB of 31:25 might be in the cards.
“By late March I really started to think a PB in both the 5,000m and 10,000m were not only possible, but could be broken by a fair margin. Having run the Vancouver Sun Run 10K in 31:24 (a lifetime PB for that distance on any surface), I was confident I could break 31:00 on the track in London.
“The day of the race I checked the Ontario M40 record for confirmation, however I wasn’t really focused on breaking the record, more racing myself into good position within the field, and by doing that, targeting goal pace (3:05/K) would take care of itself. The London 10,000m has consistently brought together a large group of runners targeting 31:00 to 31:30, and this year was no different.” Gill says he knew that if he could stay with the pack, he could be confident he would make it, and that proved to be true.