The St. John Ambulance Waterloo Marathon is April 29 in Waterloo, Ontario and it has events in the marathon and half marathon. This year, the half marathon has been christened the Ed Whitlock half marathon, in recognition of Ed’s 36 world records, contributions to our sport, and numerous runs on this gorgeous course. iRun will be there, as will Clive Whitlock, who ran with his dad at 14 in Montreal when Ed first attempted the 42.2K distance. We caught up with Clive and asked him about his dad, racing, and Ed’s legacy.
iRun: What does it mean to you to have the half marathon in Waterloo named after your dad?
Clive: I feel honoured that they would do that for my Dad.
iRun: After everything in October about Ed at STWM, how does it make you feel, the outpouring of affection for him and what is it about your dad that you think affected so many people?
Clive: Alan Brookes mentioned that the number of participants in the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon grew by leaps and bounds over the years, and he attributed some of that to my Dad serving as an inspiration to people of all ages—that it’s never too late to participate in events such as this.
iRun: I miss his smile and wry comments. He once told me that if you want to know if someone has potential to become a great marathon runner, shine a light through his ear and if you can see the light out of the other side, odds are you’ve got a good prospect. What do you miss? Can you describe him a little bit, outside of his running shoes?
Clive: I guess that’s my Dad’s wry sense of humour. I think that long distance runners are probably among the most ambitious, educated, affluent demographic out there.
iRun: I’m glad to hear you recently ran the Robbie Burns race. Is it true that it was your marathon that started your dad on his marathon quest? How old were you when you ran your first marathon in Ottawa and what do you remember about that race?
Clive: The first marathon my Dad and I ran together was the 1976 Montreal Marathon, which was two months prior to the first Ottawa Marathon we ran together. I was 14 and my Dad just turned 45. We finished together. Our time was 3.09.30. The race was in March, which in Montreal is downright cold to be running a marathon. It was a four-lap race on Montreal’s north shore. We were running a great pace for the first three laps and were well on pace to run a sub 3-hour marathon, but I hit the wall about half way through the last lap and struggled to finish. I know I was slowing my Dad down, but he stayed with me, to give me the incentive to finish the race.
iRun: It’s good to have you on record to sort out some of the history. I always thought it was Ottawa where you first raced.
Clive: Regarding the marathons my Dad and I ran in Ottawa, the first one was in May 1976 when I was still 14 and my Dad 45, just two months after the Montreal Marathon, which was our first marathon. We ran the first Ottawa one in 2.58.26. Although this was a slower time than what I ran the following year, it was the easiest marathon I’ve ever ran—running a perfectly paced race and feeling as though I could have ran another five miles after finishing.
We ran the Ottawa again in 1977, we I was 15 and my Dad 46. We ran a 2.52.13. I remember we were overtaking a lot of runners in the latter stages of the race between Parliament Hill and Carleton, but once again, I started to run out of gas about two miles from the finish and that slowed our time down.
iRun: What do you remember most about those races?
Clive: Obviously, in all the times my Dad ran marathons with me, he was doing it for me, not himself. He could have ran far better times on his own.
iRun: Ahead of this great event in Waterloo, could you have had any idea, at the time, that a marathoning legend was being born?
Clive: No, even though I was fully aware that I was slowing my Dad down during the times that I ran marathons with him. I always thought that at that particular time in the 1970’s, he preferred to run the shorter distances on the track (i.e 800-10,000 metres etc). I think he really started to get into the marathons in his late 60’s when he realized that no one over the age of 70 had ever ran a marathon in under 3 hours.
iRun: What did he think about that?
Clive: He thought that was an attainable goal.