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A Case For Dylan Wykes

posted by Brandon
A Case For Dylan Wykes

If you have spent more than 5 seconds talking to Dylan Wykes you would know that he is a class act. He is unassuming, humble, and always takes the time to ask about your running. He has been one of Canada’s most outstanding and consistent runners since the Beijing Olympics. That being said, will we see Wykes toe the line in London?

As a Canadian citizen I would like to see Dylan Wykes represent our country at The 2012 London Olympic Games this summer. Wykes’ 2:15:16 debut in the marathon at the tender age of 24 caught my eye as most impressive. That was four years ago, and Wykes has done nothing but get better with age. He has run 2:12 twice recently, which is just shy of the Athletics Canada imposed Olympic Standard of 2:11:29. Wykes’ gave it the old college try again on the weekend and struggled with some GI issues. I was going to message Wykes via Skype to grab a quote or two, but I think his post-race tweet says it all.

“Big ole DNF. How’s that for an anti-climax! Terrible GI problems. Writing was on the wall v[ery] early on. Very tough day Thx to all 4 ur support”

I simply do not understand why Athletics Canada won’t send Wykes to London. I liken Athletics Canada to a parent who is embarrassed when their child finishes in 2nd place. Would Athletics Canada be embarrassed  if Wykes went to London and finished top 10? I think so. Would Canada be embarrassed? I think not.

Top 10 Reasons Wykes Should Be Sent to London

1. He has run 2:12 twice in the past 15 months (two B standards?)

2. He finished 3rd at The FAKE Canadian Marathon Olympic Trials crossing the finish line in a respectable 2:12:56, which anyone who was in attendance on that day knew was worth 2:11:29 due to the wind.

Suggested Reading: ‘WEATHER’ or Not to Have Olympic Trials?

3. 2:12:39 would have put him 11th place  at the 2008 Beijing Olympics (directly behind American superstar Ryan Hall)

4. There is no rising star standard for the Marathon. If there is one event that should have a rising star component, it is the marathon. Meb, the winner of the U.S. Olympic Trials is almost 10 years older than Wykes. I realize Wykes has represented Canada at a major championship but Wykes could arguably continue improving for the next 10 years.

5. He ranks Top 10 All-Time in Canada for the 10,000m and Marathon

6. His 1:02:14 half marathon is worth 2:11:15 – 14 seconds under the Marathon Standard

7. Wykes is 4 years younger than Reid Coolsaet and 3 years younger than Eric Gillis

8. Eric Gillis went to the Olympics for the 10,000m in 2008 with a 28:07 as a rising star – Wykes has run 28:12

9. Who cares how fast he can run the marathon? To finish in the top 10 at the Olympics requires the ability to compete, not necessarily run fast. Wykes can do this.

10. The Olympic Marathon standard is 2:15 – NOT the Athletics Canada imposed 2:11:29 – is it a matter of time before some of our athletes find another country to represent?

I’m sure I could refine this top 10 and add another 30, but I need to get out the door for a run.

About the Author: Brandon Laan is a runner, coach, and entrepreneur. He spent his undergraduate days at The University of Western Ontario where he captained the Cross Country Team before fleeing to Hawaii Pacific University for graduate school. He is a Level II Certified USATF coach and holds personal bests of 1:06 and 2:21 in the Half Marathon and Marathon respectively. He also enjoys running to eat, not eating to run…and always will.


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  1. Brett_Writer says:

    Athletics Canada should unquestionably be sending Wykes to London 2012. If Canada truly wants to develop and improve in the marathon, then they need to send athletes to compete in and experience world championship racing.

    Brandon brings up some great points – the most telling in my opinion is the fact that Wykes’ PR would have put him 11th in 2008.

    Athletics Canada: Send more guys in the marathon so they can build their confidence!

  2. Ken Jacobs says:

    We must get this guy to London. He’s GOT HEART!!!

  3. Alex Coffin says:

    I mentioned this on facebook and Bill Corcoran brought up the point that only 1 runner can go if you use B standard. I’m not sure I would agree with Eric and Reid staying home so Dylan can run.

  4. Alex Coffin says:

    From Rejean Chiasson: As far as I know Canada only has 1 standard, 2.11.29. But the Olympic it self has a A standard of 2.15, and B standard of 2.18. So if Canada wanted to they would be allowed to send 3 guys as long as they ran under 2.15.

  5. Dan Cumming says:

    Wykes is very much the class act you describe. But, Canada decided to ‘own the podium’ a few years back and it seems we have trouble with the concept that you need to develop people if you want to do that sort of thing long-term. Dylan should be sent. Those three guys might just be able to do a Kenyan trick by pacing each other and running a strategic race together instead of being beat up by the other ‘teams’ out there.

    Couldn’t agree more that the Olympic Marathon is about racing vs running fast. Everybody wants the Gold Medal. Far fewer chances taken for speed when all every last one of them wants is to be in front when they finish.

    Dylan probably does have the Canadian arbitrary qualifying time in him and so we will insist on him leaving his best race at some qualifying event rather than on the London Course.

  6. Denise Robson says:

    You couldn’t have said it better Brandon. There is no development here, same goes for the woman. No question Wykes should be going. It’s embarrassing.

    1. Theodore says:

      Congratulation on your own great race, John. I was close behind you early on, but then all of a sedudn you were gone. I’ll join you on the other side of 3 hours one day.

  7. Denise Robson says:

    Let us tell our inspiring young youth (my young daughter) that in order to make the Olympics for Canada being the best in your country is not enough you must be the best in the world. Just not right.

  8. JP says:

    While I agree it would be great to see Dylan in London, and I think he’s a gutsy runner who puts it on the line – I disagree with most of your points.

    You’re only as fast as your best time. I agree, he has run under the Olympic Standard twice, but he has not hit the Canadian Standard. All the athletes knew what the standard was well in advance, so there can be no excuses. The so-called “fake” Canadian Trials did have terrible weather. Awful really. But Reid and Eric both hit standard in those conditions, so the point in moot.

    As for rising star status – it wouldn’t matter even if it did exist. He has represented Canada at the World Champs as you mentioned, meaning he wouldn’t be eligible.

    The point I disagree most with, is your age argument. It is completely irrelevant that he is 4 years younger than Reid and 3 years younger than Eric. The marathon lends itself to experience, especially the Olympic marathon. Gebrselassie is 38, and yet would still break the Canadian record, and the women’s winner in Beijing was the same age.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Dylan is a terrific guy, a great competitor, and a fantastic runner. He is the future of this country in the marathon. But standards, even if they are deemed unfair, are still qualification standards. If you don’t hit them, you don’t get to go. It’s as simple as that.

  9. Brett_Writer says:

    If the marathon does indeed lend itself to experience, it becomes even more obvious that Dylan should be racing in London. I think the author makes a valid point in suggesting the Canadian standard should be adjusted to allow Canada to send the maximum number of participants.

    ‘Own the Podium’ was an initiative set up for the Vancouver Winter Games – Canada will never own the podium at the summer games – period. The talent pool is far deeper across the spectrum with regards to events in the summer games, and while it’s a positive thing for Canada to apply the ‘Own The Podium’ initiative for further games to come – Canada would still benefit from adjusting its standards to allow athletes
    on the cusp of greatness like Dylan to race against the best in the world

    @DanCumming makes a great point as well in that Reid, Eric and Dylan could work off one another in London – potentially vaulting one of them to a very memorable performance. Running is very much a team sport, and we shouldn’t be getting away from that – Dylan’s role during the marathon could be as much to help a guy like Reid, as it is to try and place high himself.

    Canada’s Olympic marathon standard is too specific. An Olympic marathon ‘trials’ (Like the U.S.) would be a more appropriate way to decide who competes in London. That way, instead of risking no one going to the games – we would guarentee all three spots. This would unquestionably help develop our talent and potential in the marathon – not only from the experience, but also from Canada’s youth becoming interested and excited about distance running through watching our best compete.

  10. Paul says:

    It’s not just Canada…

    Plenty of countries (Aus, NZ, UK, Can) won’t be sending full teams even when they have guys under the IAAF A/B standard ie 2:15/2:18 (granted you can only send 1 B if no A’s which is a possibility in NZ). These guys are eligible to go but the countries policy gets set tougher.

    I don’t understand what it achieves really. How does it promote the sport? How does it encourage the next generation?

    I think the problem is a historical one where back in the good old days these countries had guys capable of placing highly. Now they still want those high placings but the marathon has moved on in leaps and bounds and to get the placing you need to run considerably quicker. FFS, some of these guys are having to run damn close to the national record just to get a look in!

    Perhaps the IAAF need to toughen up the times since all these countries think they know best. Or maybe the IAAF/IOC need to mandate that countries will send full teams provided they meet the standard? Or maybe only athlete’s who can run under 2:05 should be allowed to run?

  11. I have to agree with JP. Rules are rules. We’ve raised the bar. We have two men going. This is good. Dylan is young, yes. So 2016 looks good.

    Why do we always complain? The standards were too hard before, and no one went. The standards didn’t get easier, but now two guys are in. The standards are not impossible. The solution is simple: run faster.

    After Toronto, Dylan had no expectations to be selected based on his race there. I doubt his expectations have changed.

    Bigger question: where the ladies at? No one wants to talk about this, but I think it’s more of a concern than whether the third fastest marathoner (no offence, just a stat) goes to London.

  12. Brandon Laan says:

    Standards are standards. I agree.

    The point is that the standards are unnecessary. The Olympics already have standards. Why wouldn’t we send as many people as we can?

    What if Athletics Canada made the standard 2:04 in 2016 because they felt that is what it would take to get on the podium? I do not think a Canadian will run 2:04 in our lifetime.

    As for the women…2:29:55 is insane! 2:37 and 2:43 are the ACTUAL Olympic A and B Standards.

  13. Regardless of the standards, CAN or OLY, only one woman (Kroshus) ran under 2:43 last year. How many men ran under the OLY B standard which is what 2:18? 6? Big disparity.

    The “standards are unnecessary” argument is not the one you’ve made above. And now is not the time to make it. If anyone cares to read it, here is a point-by-point rebuttal of the OP:

  14. JK says:

    Interesting piece, but knowing Dylan and the competitor that he is, I don’t think he would want a spot unless he felt he earned it! He knew what the standard was, and as heart breaking as it might be, it jsut didn’t come together! That being said, he is the future of the marathon in Canada and it is too bad it won’t happen this time round!

  15. Terence Attema says:

    Completely agree with Laan on this. Its absurd that we have a time standard much tougher than the olympic standard that we arbitrarily said is 2:11:29, in a race where heat, wind, and course conditions can make several minutes difference. Suppose Gillis ran a few seconds slower than the standard in stead of just under in Toronto with those huge winds. It’s probably worth a 2:08 or 2:09 in calm conditions, but according to Athletics Canada, ridiculously, that wouldn’t have been good enough. Shouldn’t we be teaching our top marathoners to compete and race more so than encourage them to look for a flat fast course and hope the weather is just right in order to have the best odds to run some time AC set? It’s amazing that we have two athletes who made the standard despite the winds at Toronto waterfront. I’m not saying we should have a trials race like the U.S. but I think any runner who runs under 2:15 should be considered based on such factors as weather conditions during the race, difficulty of the course, age of the person, head to head competition vs. other people who made standard, etc.

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