Jacob Puzey returned to the Calgary Marathon this year to defend his 2016 Canadian Ultra Championship title. Not only did he defend it but he was able to run with his brother Tommy and wife Amy on the way to his win.
The Calgary Marathon simultaneously hosts the Canadian Half Marathon and 50K National Championships. The combination of events draws a deep international field and saw the Puzey family loading the podium. Jacob Puzey took top honors in the 50km Ultra Canadian Championships, brother Tommy Puzey was 3rd in the marathon and Amy Puzey also took home 5th place in the marathon distance.
FE: How is the race structured running all 3 races together and allowing you to run with both Tommy and Amy who were running the marathon distance while you were out on the 50km course?
Jacob: The half marathon, marathon, and 50K all start at the same time and also share the same finish line at the Calgary Stampede stadium. All of the races ran together for the first 5 miles or so until the half marathoners split off to run back toward the finish. The marathon and 50K runners cover the same course with the only exception being that the 50K runners do an 8K/5 mile out-and-back section twice whereas the marathoners only run it once. Marathoners and 50K runners rejoined the half marathon course and we ran together and crossed the same finish line.
FE: Tell us about your strategy on race day?
Jacob: I knew that it would be a slightly different race than last year in that I wouldn’t have teammate and friend, Cal Neff, pushing the pace and pulling me through the first half of the race. I figured that if I wanted to ensure victory, rather than playing chase as I had last year with Cal that I would need to go out with the lead half marathoners and marathoners and break away from the 50K competition.
FE: Tell us how you were able to defend the Canadian National Ultra Championship race running with your brother and breaking the tape with your wife – both who were competing in the marathon event?
Jacob: My brother, Tommy, and I ran together with the lead half marathoners and marathoners for the first few miles. Based on seed times, it appeared that his main competition in the marathon would be a handful of Kenyans with the top three finishers earning a piece of the prize purse. The pace picked up after the first 5K. I was already ahead of the 50K field so I settled into a pace I felt I could maintain and watched Tommy and the lead half marathoners and marathoners pull away. I still had a few of the half marathoners and marathoners and the lead biker to yo-yo with, but much of the middle half of the race was run alone.
As we were running toward the final turnaround for the marathon, I saw the marathon leaders running scared toward the finish. My barrel-chested, bearded brother approached towering over the tiny gentleman he was running with. Tommy looked calm, calculated and ready to pounce. Titus (one of the Kenyan’s competing), who I had tangled with a few times in the first few miles, looked scared and annoyed that he couldn’t shake Tommy. I encouraged Tommy to start kicking as he only had about 8K to go and he was in striking distance of the other two. Tommy passed and put almost 3 minutes into him to take 3rd in the marathon.
When I reached the turnaround for the first time I realized I was a little ahead of my pace from last year’s event. As I ran back toward town along the Bow River I tried to see who else was racing the 50K. My friend and training partner Eric Reyes was in second but looked like he was hurting. I encouraged him to keep digging and to finish strong. I also saw my wife, Amy, who was running the marathon. She only had about 10-12K to go and was in the mix with the top 3 Canadian women. Last year at this time Amy had just been discharged from the hospital after a surprise C-section and early arrival of our 4 lb daughter. Needless to say, sleep has been a luxury and training has been more a part of our lifestyle – running errands pushing a stroller – than anything formal or structured. But there she was, a year later mixing it up with some of the best in the country.
Based on Amy’s previous marathon time at sea level and my time last year on this course we figured that if everything went as planned that we might be able to finish close to one another. When I caught sight of Amy, I recommitted to catch and finish with her. I went through the marathon split a couple of minutes faster than I had last year so I felt confident that I was in a good position to win the ultra. I caught Amy with about 8K to go and determined there was no place I would rather be than there by her side. We ran the final 8K together as we have done the majority of our training/commuting/baby soothing/puppy running/parenting/adventuring together. It just felt right. The only thing missing was the stroller and our kids and dog riding and running alongside us. We reached the finish together, hand-in-hand, and broke the tape together. We were greeted with embraces from my brother, Tommy, and our children and friends and we awaiting the arrival of our friends who were still out there racing. It was a perfect way to cap off the first half of the year. Now, we’ll take some time to do more runs, rides, and hikes with our kids while also directing trail running events most weekends throughout the country.
FE: Tommy tell us about why you headed north to do the Calgary Marathon?
Tommy: Racing is what drives me. But most of the time it feels like work. When I get a chance to race alongside Jake though, everything changes. I’m brought back to my childhood. We’re just two wild kids, partners in crime, getting into trouble, bailing each other out, and out running any oppressive authority that thinks it can tell us what we can and can’t do. Nowadays that comes more in the form of competitors and physical thresholds, but the rebellion and the subsequent thrill feels the same. It’s nice to have reliable fuel to bolster our escapades and keep us doing what we do best.
May 28, 2017
Ultra 50km Canadian Championships
1 Jacob Puzey 3:10:38
2 Eric Reyes 3:24:04
3 Mike Hamilton 3:30:35
4 Shawn Lywood 3:33:18
5 Cesar Martin 3:40:27
1 Daniel Kipkoech 2:22:31
2 Jonathan Kipchirchir Chesoo 2:28:00
3 Tommy Rivers Puzey 2:28:54
4 Titus Githu 2:31:47
5 Robert Brouillette 2:40:56
1 Gladys Tarus 2:42:13
2 Caroline Kiptoo 2:42:48
3 Monicah Mengich 2:52:24
4 Andrea Glover 3:07:19
5 Amy Puzey 3:10:39