As the decade comes to a close, Keith Wakelin reflects on a remarkable running career that culminated in 2019 with an achievement that no other runner has accomplished. The Comox Valley resident became Canadian champion in three different events in the same year.
Last May, he won the 50 mile Canadian Championships in a national record for 60-64-year-olds. Then in July, he won the 800 metres and the 2000-metre steeplechase in the 60-64 category at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Montreal.
“I still find it hard to believe what I did this year,” said Wakelin. “The three events are so different, that it is difficult to train for and do well in all of them. With some determination and a bit of luck, I was able to pull it off.”
Wakelin also repeated as 60-64 champion at the GoodLife Fitness Marathon in Victoria in October, running 3:06:45, ranking him seventh in Canada for his age category for 2019. His time was seven minutes faster than the previous year, showing that age is not slowing him down.
Wakelin passed one other milestone in 2019. He has now run just over 100,000 miles (160,000 kilometres) since beginning his career at the age of 10. That is the equivalent of running around the world at the equator, four times.
“I have kept training logs throughout the years, so I have been able to keep track of all the mileage, all the races, and the ups and downs of the long distance runner. If I had to sum it all up in one word, that word would be: grateful.”
Wakelin has no plans on slowing down. In fact, as he transitions from semi-retirement to retirement in the next couple of years, his commitment to excellence as an older runner will strengthen.