Olympians add star power to Cambridge Mile

Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis

The Cambridge Classic Mile is getting an Olympic-size boost, as Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis, Taylor Milne and more will be on hand to take part in the event.

The event, which takes place this year on Friday, June 14 in Cambridge, Ont., is a group of one-mile races for children in elementary school, middle school, high school. It also includes a masters’ race and the Olympic Mile, where the top three male and female finishers from each school division get a chance to run with Olympians.

Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis
Olympians Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis are showing their support for the Cambridge Mile. (Photo: Richard Sibbald)

The race, organized by non-profit organization Run For Life, started in 2004 as an annual community event. The Olympic Mile portion is a chance for local children to meet and be inspired by Canada’s Olympians.

“It’s a nice mentoring thing,” says race organizer John Carson. “Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge has produced some amazing athletes. Part of what we want to show is there’s a common thread of running for a lot of those athletes.”

Gymnast Maddie Garner, 1500m specialist Paula Schnurr and speed skaters Amanda and Cindy Overland will join Coolsaet, Gillis and Milne at the event. Coolsaet, who broke his collarbone earlier this month, is slated to run the mile, but depending on his condition may not actually run.

“He says he should be okay,” says Carson. “But he’s hoping to be on site.”

Senior running phenom Ed Whitlock is also scheduled to be on hand, running in the masters’ mile race. Carson says Whitlock is aiming to break the 7-minute mark on the mile, and possibly even establish a world record.

“He ran it in 2004 at our inaugural event,” Carson says. “He wore the same singlet and shorts he wore in 1949!”

Capping off the evening is Cambridge’s Nate Brannen attempting to run a 4-minute mile on the old clay track, matching the conditions Roger Bannister ran when breaking the 4-minute barrier in 1954.

“We’re actually setting it up the way Bannister did it in ’54,” Carson says. “They’ll have four rabbits, and they’ll be going at a four-minute pace. We want to give the audience that feel of emotion when Bannister did it almost 60 years ago.”

Entry into any of the races is just $4—a dollar per lap. To learn more, visit the Run For Life website.