By Paul Gains
Trevor Hofbauer will make his eagerly awaited marathon debut October 22nd at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon which is both an IAAF Gold Label race and the Canadian Championship.
The move up in distance comes less than a year after he moved east to join Guelph, Ontario based Speed River Track Club. The club, under the direction of Dave Scott-Thomas, counts Olympic marathoners Eric Gillis, Reid Coolsaet and Krista DuChene as members.
For fourteen years Calgary had been the 25 year old distance runner’s home. Leaving behind his family and friends not to mention employment as the New Balance Technical Rep for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, was a dramatic move that he hopes will pay dividends. The sacrifices were many.
"A lot," he emphasizes. "Calgary is my home. I have a lot of really good lifetime friends. We went to junior high and high school there and spent a lot of time together afterwards. The past ten or fifteen years I have created this unbelievable network out there, just charming individuals I had to leave. One of the toughest to leave was my grandmother, who is getting old. She is like my angel. That was most difficult."
Hofbauer first attracted attention with his performance at the 2015 Philadelphia Half Marathon where he recorded a good personal best of 1:04:30 the equal tenth fastest ever by a Canadian. A third place finish at the 2016 Canadian Cross Country Championships earned him a spot on Canada’s team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Kampala, Uganda. There, he finished 71st in the senior men’s race and was Canada’s top finisher. The half marathon, though, he admits was a turning point.
"64:30 is a cool time but it’s nowhere close to where I think I can go," he says of the Philadelphia race. "I need to stay consistent and patient and all the stars to align and something faster will happen.
"I am going into the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon with a very open mind because I have never actually raced a full marathon before. To do that it is going to be a very different experience. I have an ‘A’ goal which is a preferred time, then I do have a ‘B’ goal which is for placement in the race. But my ‘C’ goal is to just finish the race and to learn as much as I can. I feel the marathon is where a lot of my potential can be found."
The success of Speed River’s distance program was the principal attraction when Hofbauer first contacted Scott-Thomas by email. That initial contact was followed by a two hour telephone conversation. Their first face to face meeting, Hofbauer laughs, was a little awkward.
It was during the 2016 Canadian Olympic Trials in Edmonton. Hofbauer was driving down Whyte Street near one of the meet hotels when he spotted the coach walking along the sidewalk.
"I ripped into a McDonald’s parking lot and came jumping out of the car and I was like ‘Dave Scott-Thomas, how’s it going?’ I caught him off guard," Hofbauer remembers with a laugh. "It was so awkward. I was like ‘Dave I am not a super fanboy I saw you walking on the street and I wanted to introduce myself and wish you luck this week. I don’t even go to McDonald’s for lunch.’ That was my first encounter with him."
These days Hofbauer has settled into a routine in the ‘Royal City’ with a typical week including as much as 200km of running. Until recently he trained three days a week with Eric Gillis but the three time Olympian has since moved to Antigonish, Nova Scotia to take up a coaching position at St. Francis Xavier University.
Nevertheless, training partners are close at hand. He shares a rental house with fellow Speed River distance runners Evan Esselink (2017 Canadian 10,000m champion), Andrew Nixon and Chris Dulhanty. He admits his lifestyle is quite uneventful in order to best focus on athletics.
"I try to stay way from my smart phone as much as possible," he declares. "Once or twice a week, Evan and I will go out to the coffee shop. He studies for school and I try to get some work done on my computer whether it’s writing or talking to people through emails. We will go for an afternoon run and then eat dinner. Typically we will watch a movie or play video games in the evening.
"Over the summer it was difficult. I didn’t have much time to myself because I was working 45 hours a week at a golf course. Some days I had to work from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. so I had to go for a run at 4:00 a.m."
Now that he is no longer employed he admits he is living off the savings accrued over the past few years. He studied hospitality management at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology for two years earning a diploma in the subject. Maybe a career in that industry will eventually follow. But for now money doesn't appear to drive him even though he is aware that winning the Canadian Marathon Championship would earn him $5,000.
"I decided to pack my bags and move out to Guelph to join SRTC and really try and give this sport of running a go," he declares. "I want to find my maximum potential and see where I could really set the bar. At times you have to make sacrifices. sometimes they are big and sometimes small."
Come October 22nd running fans across the country will know if the sacrifices have paid off and if Hofbauer can follow in the footsteps of his more famous clubmates.
For more information and to join Trevor at this year’s race: STWM.ca.
About the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon:
An IAAF Gold Label race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier, big-city running event, the Athletics Canada National Marathon Championships, and the Grand Finale of the 7-race Canada Running Series. In 2016 it attracted 26,000 participants from 70 countries, raised $3.24 million for 182 charities through the Scotiabank Charity Challenge, and contributed an estimated $35 million to the local economy. The livestream broadcast was watched by more than 72,000 viewers from 129 countries. STWM.ca.