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Posted: October 14, 2004

Athletics: "It's been a fun ride!" - Bruce Deacon

Bruce after the 2004 Royal Victoria Marathon

Editors Note: Bruce Deacon retired from the marathon after finishing off his career with a win at the Royal Victoria Marathon.

Runner's Web 20 Questions - Athlete's profile
This month we profile marathoner Bruce Deacon

Full Name: Bruce William Deacon

Sport: Athletics

Born (City): Ottawa

Current Hometown: Victoria, BC

Age: 37

Coach: Wynn Gmitroski

Club(s): Prairie Inn Harriers and New Balance Canada

Educational Background: BA (Hon.) at UWO, Professional Development Program,
(Teacher Training) SFU, currently completing a Masters of Education in Leadership Studies at UVic

Occupation: Public Servant (BC Ministry of Education)

Sponsors: New Balance, PowerBar, Rudy Project

Personal Web Site: None

Favourite Web Site: letsrun.com

PB Times: 1500M 3:52, 3000M 8:08, 5K 13:54, 10K 28:46, Half-Marathon 1:04:45, Marathon 2:13:18

Introduction: Before we get into the twenty questions, could you comment on the standards set for the Athens Games by the COC and Athletics Canada?

Bruce Deacon: "I believe that the COC standards were short sighted and gave little thought for the future development of our sport and the crisis of obscurity that affects most Canadian Olympic sports."

1. Runner's Web (RW): When and where did you start competing and in what sports?

Bruce Deacon (BD): I began running at a summer camp when I was 11 years old. I desperately wanted to find a sport in which I could beat the big kids (just about everyone as I was a pretty short kid). Rob Reid was the camp's program director and he was an evangelical marathon runner. He hosted a '30 Mile Club' through which I discovered that I had pretty decent natural endurance.

2. RW: At what age do you consider you became a "serious" athlete and in what sport?

BD: Since running was an answer to my hopes, dreams and prayers, I quickly became serious. When other 12 year old boys were dreaming of professional hockey careers, I was training for my first marathon and dreaming of running the Olympic marathon.

Bruce winning the 2004 Royal Victoria Marathon - Race Photo

3. RW: You have not been a full-time athlete throughout your career. Could you comment on how you fit in your training and competitions into your job and if you feel that not training full-time is a disadvantage compared to full-time athletes.

BD: Life, work and training is a continual juggle. It has been hard and challenging, but not much different than most athletes endured 20 years ago. There are many advantages to full-time training, but I don't think that it fits my temperament. That said, I would have benefited from a stable part-time work arrangement.

4. RW: Who has had the greatest influence on your athletic career?

BD: I think that the greatest influence would be Jesus. I am a Christian athlete and believe that God gave me an ability to run and it is my responsibility to maximize this ability in a way that best represents Him.

My wife also is a great influence on my athletics. She has supported my pursuit over the last 8 years and made some pretty substantial sacrifices. I couldn't have continued racing without her support. She is a real gem!

5. RW: Could you discuss your marathon training in terms of an average week's workouts prior to racing season? Also could you review, at a high level, your macro program for a year? Do you do most of your training alone or as part of a group or does it vary by discipline? What is the longest training run you have ever done?

BD: My training is really nothing all too special. It is a mix of reasonably high mileage, long tempo runs and 5-10k pace work. I do my longest runs earlier in the build-up and move towards high quality long runs as I near the race day. The longest run I do is usually 2 1/2 hours, but I have run up to 3 hours and 29 miles. I prefer to run 2-3 marathons a year and to take 11-13 weeks to prepare for each race. I race sparingly leading up to a marathon as I find it interrupts my training. When we can make it work, Jon Brown and I train together. Obviously, my work schedule and his racing schedule affect how often we can hook up for runs.

6. RW: Now that you have retired from the marathon, what are your racing plans for the future? What will you do with all the spare time now that you do not have to run those LONG runs necessary for marathon success?

BD: I will run shorter distances on the track and road. I plan to spend more time with family, finish my masters and consider some different career options. I don't handle boredom very well, so I won't be twiddling my thumbs for long.

7. RW: What do you consider your best race, from a performance perspective, and why?

BD: Placing 11th at the World Championships in Gothenburg ('95) was a highlight. I was seeded 70th and so this performance was somewhat unexpected by most. I knew I could come through on the day, but it was a pretty special moment to be racing side-by-side with some pretty big names.

8. RW: What has been your strongest attribute for the marathon?

BD: I believe I am pretty tough in adverse conditions. I have had some really excellent runs in some pretty disgusting weather.

9. RW: Do you have any interest in coaching or other involvement in sport after you stop competing?

BD: The thought of coaching has crossed my mind, but I would need the right situation to emerge. Work and family makes it pretty tough right now. I think I have more interest in sports administration.

10. RW: Have you been tested in a lab for max VO2, body fat, etc? If so what were the results?

BD: I was tested in the early and mid '90's VO2 etc. and scored quite well. I was between 81-82 for max VO2 and somewhere around 85% for threshold. I regularly have my skin folds taken, but we don't convert the totals to percent body fat.

11. What is your favourite race - all aspects considered - and why?

BD: I am quite fond of the Sun Run. It is amazing when you get that many runners in one event and I have very fond memories of the run. I also really enjoyed running the San Blas Half Marathon in Coamo, Puerto Rico. The crowds are unbelievable and the course and conditions are really challenging.

I have had great runs at the California International Marathon, so I'd say that it is my favourite marathon.

12. RW: What do you consider your greatest achievement in the sport?

BD: Tough to say... either competing at two Olympics or winning the silver at Pan Ams. None of these races was what I would call excellent performances, but in terms of what I think my sons will respect the most.

13. RW: How would you rate the marathon against other distance races and other athletic events?

BD: The marathon is a single season race. Unlike other distances where success is measured over a season, with the marathon it all comes down to one day. This means that all your training comes down to a single day. It makes dealing with pressure and being somewhat lucky key factors for marathon success.

Also, when things turn bad in a marathon, they turn really bad for a long time. Unlike a shorter race, it usually isn't a case of hanging on for a lap or two. Nothing can humble you like a bad marathon.

14. RW: Did you watch the Athens Olympic Marathon on TV? If so, given the temperature and terrain, how do you think you would have done in the race?

BD: I watched the race, but I really can't say how I would have done. When I ran the same course at the 1997 World Championships, I placed 16th and had the third fastest last 5km in the race. It was a course and climate that suited my style of racing.

15. RW: If you could design your own "perfect" marathon course what features would it have - terrain, weather, field, prize money, etc.?

BD: It would start and finish at my house on a sunny fall day, have tons of prize money and no one else would know about it but me;) No seriously, it would be held on a hot day, on a really challenging course, be watched by HUGE crowds and have excellent prize money.

16. RW: Do you feel that Canada provides sufficient support for athletes and for potential Olympic team members in general?

BD: We have a crisis that is affecting almost all Olympic sports (especially summer sports). No one cares about sport for 3 years and 11 months. This crisis of obscurity allows governments to largely ignore sport and makes corporate sponsorship much more difficult to obtain. We need to strategize as to how sport can play a bigger role in Canadian culture.

17. RW: What activities do you do away from sport to relax?

BD: Relax...what a concept. The juggle of family, running, work and school has made relaxing difficult. I suppose that relaxing means hanging out with my wife and two lads.

18. RW: What is your racing schedule for the next year?

BD: I'll run shorter races. I'd like to run well at the Sun Run, TC 10k, Sporting Life and the NCM 10k. If I am running well, I will run the National Half Marathon Championships.

Bruce at the 2004 ING Ottawa Marathon
Photo courtesy of Action Sports International, www.asiphoto.com

19. RW: Who would you consider the top male marathoners in the world right now?

BD: It is very hard to determine who is the best at the marathon. Is it the Olympic gold medallist or the world record holder. Personally, I'd give the nod to Evan Rutto.

20. RW: How do you think you will adjust to not racing the marathon after all these years and all the memories?

BD: It will be difficult at times, but I am ready. I am looking for other challenges to fill the void and searching for more fulfilling employment. I am looking forward to more time with my family doing some of the things that were difficult while pursuing high performance sport. A bit of downhill skiing would be fun.

RW: Any additional comments, and thanks for your contribution to the sport. I always felt that you represented Canada very well on and off the roads.

BD: I can still remember the day that my coach, Ken Parker, pulled me aside and told me that he thought I was too young to run marathons. I didn't see the problem, after all I was already 12. I am now glad I followed his sage advice. Marathoning has been a fun ride. I have really had fun (the last year and a half excluded).

There are a few unsung heroes behind successful athletes and I wanted to thank them. My parents were really tremendous throughout my career, and I would never have reached the level I did if not for their encouragement. My coaches were great (Ken Parker, John Fitzgerald, Marek Jedzerick, Bud Baldaro and Wynn Gmitroski). I had a fantastic support team (Dr. Alain Leblanc, Jennifer Pendray (massage), and Wynn Gmitroski (physio)). I cannot say enough thanks to my incredible wife, Rosemary. I’d also like to acknowledge Rob Reid, New Balance and PowerBar. Most of all, I want to honour God who blessed me from start to finish. What a fun ride!


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