Race Story: Dylan Wykes 2017 Calgary Marathon
May 29 2017
Calgary, Alberta Canada
Do you need anything? I ask. A quick sip of water as a precursor for his gel and Dylan Wykes is near ready for the start of the 2017 Calgary Half Marathon and Canadian Half Marathon Championships.
In the shadow of the Calgary Saddledome just over 12 minutes from the start of the Calgary Marathon, Dylan Wykes warms up in a black long sleeve Mizuno top with his Mile2Marathon logo in white on the front. He’s rocking a pair of Wayfarer-esq sunglasses, a yellow and grey classic five panel Mile2Marathon run cap, and a striking blue Suunto Ambit3 Sport watch.
He sheds the long sleeve five minutes before the starting gun.
With a bright orange Mizuno singlet loosely hanging off the broad shouldered frame of Canada’s third fastest marathoner ever, and a pair of black three inchers from Mizuno being the last of the material until you reach his super-dad white tube socks pulled nearly half way up his long lean calves. Glancing at him head to toe, Dylan looks like he could be ready to run a race, or play some beach volleyball in Kitsilano near where he lives with other soccer dads on a Tuesday afternoon—aside from the marathon bib pinned to his chest.
Dylan looks relaxed, and it’s great to see him toe that start line.
While sitting across the table from Dylan a week earlier at Cartem’s W Broadway on a cloudy but pleasant Vancouver morning, while enjoying a cappuccino and donut, we talk about the half marathon and what it looks like for him these days. He acknowledges the difference in training and commitment to run a 62 minute half, and a 68 minute half. Dylan’s PB is 1:02:14 from NYC’s spring race in 2011.
I used to run a 62 and I know what that takes. Now I run 68's.
I think about this very conversation as I see Dylan standing on the start line cocking his knees moments before the start. I’m excited to see how much Dylan’s training has his race pace down to, anxious that it has all paid off and will lead to further work to get faster, and focused on the task of trying to capture the entire race…all at the same time.
It’s been great being able to spend some time with Dylan at workouts in Stanley Park or on the blue carpet at Point Grey Track in Vancouver prior to coming to Calgary. I feel comfortable taking my space on course and doing what I need to in order to capture Dylan’s race the way I want to. Having the specific goal of telling his race story allows me to focus and forget past Calgary mis-fortune. I have a sordid past with the Calgary race. Including a puncture wound, illness, and a broken big toe in various years trying to cover this race.
The lead pack of runners seperate pretty quickly before downtown Calgary is even in their rear views and Dylan looks comfortable. I notice he is often looking around. For some runners this indicates uncomfort as they try to find something in the scenery to numb the pain, but this feels different for Dylan. He looks like he’s just taking it all in to be honest—a byproduct of being comfortable.
It’s early, around 7-8km’s, but you can already see Kip and Geoff settling into their races too.
A secondary goal for a set of Emily Setlack running the half have me fall a couple minutes back of the gentlemen to get some photos of the lead women knowing that Calgary’s course allows me a couple spots to cut corners and get caught back up.
At a 67 minute race for the men, that puts the lead pack at a pace of 3:10/km. Almost 19km/h. On my bike with all my camera gear, going 35km/h for a few minutes at a time to stay in front of the lead pack is a battle. It is remarkable how fast these folks are running.
Needless to say, when I catch the guys again heading east on Memorial Dr back towards the Stampede Grounds, Kip Kangogo and Geoff Martinson have separated slightly from Dylan and he is hanging on 5 or 6 seconds back. Dylan looks uncomfortable, and at this point in a half he should, but I also know that if he could stick to their shoulders…he would.
I love race day. Tracking a group or a whole race. Cheering a runner on. I get so caught up in what I am doing. Documenting race day in some capacity is my favourite day. Spending time with runners beforehand is a real bonus, and is makes races even that much more exciting for me.
The downside is that I feel the pain when it’s obvious that Dylan isn’t going to pull some magic out of his Mile2Marathon hat. Riding at his 7 or 8 o’clock for a trailing shot I catch myself whispering just loud enough perhaps for Dylan to hear over the wind noise at the nearly 20km/hour we are both moving at; “come on Dylan, find something…close the gap”.
I know it’s wishful thinking. Running 18-20km’s at a pace of 3:10/km doesn’t leave much room for magic in the hat. A 10 foot gap might as well be a mile…but I don’t stop whispering all the way to the finish line. “Let’s go Dylan…go get em!”
Dylan Wykes doesn’t win the 2017 Calgary Marathon. He finishes in 1:06:59—some 32 seconds back of Kip who held off Geoff to win. A really fun race to chase into the finish line, and a true pleasure to track with my camera’s.
I don’t know if Dylan thought it would be that close, or if he figured he should have won it. All I know is that Dylan is bringing his pace down, and today’s race in Calgary is a great showing. He is going to be happy with the time and should be encouraged by his performance.
So much for those 68’s…huh.
The story continues with Dylan finishing second behind Kip at the 2017 Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon on June 22 with a time of 1:05:53…18 seconds back of Kip.
The next race is in Edmonton for the half marathon on August 20, 2017. I’ll be in Vancouver the week before to spend some time with Dylan, as well as capture his race in Edmonton. I’m excited to see what three months of hard work look like for coach Wykes.