“The goal for the future is to participate in the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games,” reads a line on the homepage of Trevor Hofbauer’s blog. “That goal will turn into a reality, not because I’m cocky and egotistical, but because I believe in myself, I work harder than anybody else, and I won’t quit until that goal is complete.”
Hofbauer, 24, says he still defines himself as a basketball player. This despite qualifying for the 2017 IAAF World Cross-Country Championships by virtue of finishing third at the Canadian Cross-Country Championships. Four years ago, he was running a 1:19:08 half-marathon. On Nov. 26, in Kingston, Ont., he ran 29:56.6 for 10K and defeated a national record holder and Pan Am Games champion to reach the podium.
The Burnaby, B.C.-born runner had a modest high school career and competed in the lesser-known ranks of the Canadian college system. He now finds himself consistently near the top of Canadian running results with his eyes set on the next Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Hofbauer’s career, by the numbers
The number of goals that Hofbauer sets before each race. “I make A, B and C goals,” he says. “My A goal is usually overly ambitious, my B goal is more realistic, and my C goal is always to finish the race.” At the national cross-country championships, his goals were, in order, win, make the national team and finish.
“I don’t concern myself with other athletes,” he says. “It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past, it matters what you do on race day. Just stick to your own goals.”
Hofbauer’s time at the 2013 Victoria Half-Marathon. “I don’t have a defining moment in my career,” he says. “Though it may have been my 1:09 in Victoria in 2013. I knew I had to be under 1:10 to get ‘elite status’ (free entry) for many road races. After that race, that’s when I started to get hungry and thought, ‘Maybe there’s more to me than just playing basketball.'”
He ran 1:04:28 at the 2015 Philadelphia Half-Marathon fulfilling his pre-race goal of running Canada’s standard for the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships. “When people question my goals, I get pissed and I get it done,” he adds.
The year that Hofbauer suffered the, as he emphasizes it, stress fracture in his tibia. Hofbauer battled through shin splints for the better part of two years before being diagnosed with the lower leg injury. He was out of action for two months before being able to begin a run/walk program. He says that the injury refreshed his mind and starting from square one has allowed him to track his progress since the injury.
The day that Hofbauer’s lease begins in Guelph, Ont. as he will leave his full-time job as a New Balance technical representative out of Calgary and begin training with Speed River Track Club. He’s doing it for the sense of community and the club’s reputation.
“In 20 years, I will look back on where I am today and I may regret not pursuing my dreams,” he says. “People are so concerned about making ends meet. Life is simple. If it [the move to Guelph] works, great. If it doesn’t, I’ll return to a full-time career. I care more about dreams than dollar bills.” He has money saved up to fund his running for the time being. “I’m willing to toss Subway sandwiches,” he says. “I’m moving there to reach my dreams, everything else is secondary.”
Hofbauer’s height, not surprising considering he was a basketball player growing up. He mostly ran during high school practices, twice per week, yet still raced well, a sign of his running talents. He says his basketball skills diminished in the gap year between high school and beginning at SAIT – the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology – in 2011 as he transitioned to being a runner under coach Jamie Grant, who trained Hofbauer until this past summer. Hofbauer has been self-coached for the past six months.
Senior men’s 10K at the Canadian Cross-Country Championships
The number of times that Hofbauer, who calls himself “Nacho Libre” on Strava, a social media platform to share training, as a way to keep things light-hearted, has represented Canada internationally so far in his career. He raced for Canada at the World’s Best 10K in Puerto Rico in early 2016 and was named to both the IAAF World Cross-Country and the Pan Am Cross-Country Cup teams for 2017.
Hofbauer’s current 10K personal best, which he set at the Vancouver Sun Run in 2016. He has won six races in 2016 including the Alberta Cross-Country Championships, the Victoria 8K and the Edmonton 10K. He ran 14:33 at the Canadian 5K Championships in September. “I don’t define myself as the hardest working athlete,” he says. “But I push my body to its limit every day. I wake up, do my best and go to bed satisfied knowing I’m better than the day before.”