Stockade-athon: Whitlock chasing world records

In typically modest fashion, Ed Whitlock described the scene at the finish of the Toronto Waterfront

In typically modest fashion, Ed Whitlock described the scene at the finish of the Toronto Waterfront Mar­athon thus: “There was a lot of noise, yes.”

The 80-year-old London native and long-time Canadian resident ran a mind-boggling 3:15:53.9 on Oct. 16, and that noise you keep hearing is a needle stuck in a groove that repeats the words “world record” over and over.

The Association of Road Racing Statis­ticians ( keeps track of single-age world records at several distances.

Whitlock, who, at 72, became the first man in recorded history to run a sub-3:00 marathon as a septuagenarian, shows up nine times on the marathon single-age list, starting when he was 68 and ran a 2:51:02.

He appears 11 times on the 15k list, and is in position to make it 12 times when he runs in the 36th annual Gazette Stockade-athon on Sunday.

Since he first ran the Stockade-athon in 2003, shortly after his historic 2:59:08, Whitlock has become a beloved figure at the 15k. He’ll have no shortage of fans rooting for him to run faster than 1:13:28, which would put him at the top of the 15k list for 80-year-olds.

“People ask me, ‘Is he coming?’ They want to shake his hand,” Stockade-athon race

director Vince Juliano said. “He’s been referred to as a person from another planet, because, the likes of him, we will not see again. It’s beyond comprehensible.”

The 80-year-old single-age 15k world record is held by Maurice Tarrant, another Canadian who posted his 1:13:28 in April of last year.

Whitlock, from Milton, just outside Toronto, ran a 1:06:46 at the Stockade-athon last year, giving him six age/gender-graded titles at the Stockade-athon over the course of eight years.

“I would hope I could beat Maurice’s time,” he said.

Two factors that don’t work in Whitlock’s favor are a shift on the race calendar that placed the Toronto Waterfront Marathon three weeks later than usual, giving him less time to recover for the Stockade-athon, and the fact that he doesn’t consider himself much of a hill runner.

The second half of the Stockade-athon course has two significant hills, on State Street and Bradley Street.

Based on his performance at the Toronto Waterfront, though, he’s in form to do better than 1:13.

“As usual, I did pretty good, but the mar­athon was on the 16th, so I imagine I’m going to be a little bit weary for that,” Whitlock said. “We’ll find out on State Street hill.”

At Toronto, Whitlock and the rest of the field endured a chilly day with strong winds.

By then, he had already moved to the top of the world leaderboard for 80-year-olds, having run a 3:25:50 at the Rotterdam Marathon in the Netherlands in April.

He wanted to bring his time down to 3:20 in Toronto, and was confident he could do so, except for the weather.

“It would’ve been a horror show, because the wind was something else. It died to a brisk breeze. There was a bit of apprehension, but it wasn’t as bad as we expected.”

Whitlock put himself in position to break his own record by snapping through the half- marathon in 1:37:38.

He augmented his good early work by latching on to a group that was on a 3:15 pace later.

Some doubt crept in at about 24 miles.

“At about 39k, which would be about 24, 25 miles, there’s a slight overpass up a bit of a hill, and my legs kind of gave up a little bit, and we were going against the wind,” Whitlock said. “I managed to struggle home and have a pretty good race.”

Whitlock doesn’t train by mileage, but instead does a number of loops for three hours and then calls it a day.

He said he got in about 20 such training runs in the month or so leading up to the Toronto Waterfront.

“My training is at a very slow pace to try to avoid getting hurt,” he said. “I find that by doing that, I can be fairly effective and can run for a long time, as long as I keep my speed down. If I get hurt, it tends to happen in a race.

“I don’t know how far I actually ran, I don’t take note of that, purposefully, so I don’t get into a competition with myself. That seems to work for me; I don’t know if it would work for anybody else.”

By now, Whitlock knows the Stockade-athon course as well as anyone.

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