I didn’t get the result I wanted in London. But the all around experience was friggen rad. Rolling over the Tower Bridge around 20km was pretty neat. Marathons are friggen stupid sometimes- but I already can’t wait for the next one. #onward #londonmarathon2016 photocred; not sure, stole this off Facebook- sorry!
Canadian Rob Watson’s final Olympic qualifying bid fell short at the London Marathon on April 24. The necessary time to be eligible for Rio 2016 was 2:12:50. The Vancouver resident finished in 2:18:45 and was understandably disappointed with the result.
After the race, in an interview with Canada Running Series race director Alan Brookes, said that “this is the end of this chapter.”
Canadian Running caught up with Watson this week to recap his London experience, as well as the leadup to the race, and what his running-related and non-running-related plans are for the future.
“Physically something is just not working. The body isn’t responding to being a high-level athlete. It’s both an emotional and physical thing. Though I can see taking a little step back from the sport may help rekindle the fire inside.”
“It obviously wasn’t what I was hoping for,” says Watson in reference to the London Marathon. “I wasn’t good enough on the day. I prepared well and it didn’t work out. After the race, I was emotional, and when I say ‘it’s the end of this chapter,’ I’m referring to athletes in my position training in four-year blocks for the Olympics. With 10-plus marathons under my belt, the last few results have been disappointing. I’ll continue to run marathons but I’m not sure at what level. The time at the high level may be coming to an end. I love running, and I love racing but it sucks to be disappointed. Now, I’ll ease back on the throttle a bit, and reassess my goals. Maybe, I’ll try to run 20 sub-2:20 marathons. Maybe I’m just sore and tired but I haven’t been anywhere close to performing at the necessary level that I thought I was capable of. Training has gone well but the races have not come together. I haven’t even been close to being a 2:13 marathon runner recently.”
Following the London result, Watson was overwhelmed with support from the running community as many had followed along for his journey in the lead-up to the race, as well as previous races in his career.
“It was unbelievable the amount of messages I received following the race, and in the leadup to the race,” says Watson. “It’s very cool and uplifting. I had hundreds of people reach out to tell me to ‘shake the result off.’ Even during the race when I felt like dropping out I knew it would be almost rude to the running community given how much support I had. It’s hard to stay down when you notice all the good that is out there.”
Watson kept it low key after the race before departing the following day (Monday) for Vancouver.
“After the race I was wrecked and took a bath, which I had not done in a long time. After that I took a nap, laid around, then went out for drinks with Tim Hutchings at the media after party. I didn’t get a chance to hang out with the other athletes but I did manage to eat a lot of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.”
Watson spent a full month in Europe ahead of London in an effort to limit the travel from Vancouver. The Canadian was in Cardiff, Wales for the world half-marathon championships at the end of March.
“I was overseas for a long time,” says Watson, often referred to as ‘Canada’s favourite marathoner.’ “I’ve done training camps before but this time I was on my own. I really missed my girlfriend and it’s nice to be back in Vancouver now. The training aspect was fine and I knew I had to do it and make that month-long sacrifice.”
During the month-long European stay, Watson read Charlie Speeding’s From Last to First: A Long-distance Runner’s Journey from Failure to Success and parts of Sub-2, a book about the two-hour barrier in the men’s marathon. Other than that, he spent his downtime doing trips to the local market and watching Netflix.
— Thomas Fletcher (@tnf1972) April 24, 2016
When asked whether he has any regrets in moving up to the marathon from his previous time on the track (he represented Canada at the world championships in the 3,000m steeplechase), Watson admitted it was one of the best decisions he made in his career.
“To be honest, I’m not very fast pure speed wise,” says Watson. “I had so much fun running the marathon and road racing. I like road racing, especially 10Ks, half-marathons, and marathons because everyone is there for one event versus a track and field meet.”
Watson is now looking forward to spending the summer in Vancouver with running taking a bit of a backseat relative to previous years.
“I can’t wait for summer in Vancouver,” says Watson. “I’ll be drinking a lot of beer, sitting on the beach, doing some hiking, soaking in the Vancouver lifestyle. I’ll be going to some concerts like the Flatliners and At the Drive-In. I’ll still be running but I just won’t be as stuck-in. I’m looking forward to having the freedom of schedule if I want to get away for a few days.”
— paul anderson (@Paul_W_Anderson) April 24, 2016
Interestingly, Watson says that Eliud Kipchoge’s performance (2:03:05) in London was the best marathon ever run, despite being eight seconds outside the world record. “In my opinion, it was the best marathon I think has ever been run.”
The 32-year-old finished off the interview by saying that, “I want to express my gratitude for the whole running community and I’m very fortunate to have represented Canada on the international stage for so long.”
Watson’s post-race interview with Brookes can be found below:
You can also listen to the final episode of the Rob Watson Show below: