Follow up to my earlier post and video feature on Gary Reed …
Reed feels both pain and gain on track
Reed, a Victoria native, will be on the track at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre this week, vying for his sixth 800-metre national championship in the lead-up to August’s world championships in Berlin. And while watching him run can be an inspiring vision, hearing him talk about running is, depending on your taste for matter-of-fact recounting of bodily distress, an even better trip.
He’s a relatively rare breed: A Canadian who excels in a truly global sport; an endurance-running contender who doesn’t hail from Africa; an opinionated purist who’s in it to win it, knowing full well the price of a podium perch.
“There’s this big thing happening in North America where people have already given up the fight before they’ve even started. They’re doing rankings like, `Oh, he was the first non-African.’ Well, first non-African? What if you’re in a race with 100 guys and you come 100th, but you were the first non-African? Is there some type of award?” Reed was saying the other day. “It doesn’t make sense. A race is a race. Whoever’s in the race, whether they’re from Mars or Jupiter, they’re all in the race.”
This is why it’s nice to see elite athletics making a return to our city this summer. For all its warts, and every game has them, it’s one of the scarce domains of athletes of Reed’s ilk: Men and women who’ll make a no-excuses dive into a snakepit, and tell you the venom’s not so bad.
He seems undeniably driven and refreshingly unentitled. (As he said the other day, “You hear a lot of athletes say, `I’m sacrificing this. I’m sacrificing that.’ … (But) nobody has a gun to my head saying, `Gary, you have to live like this.’ I choose to live the (Spartan) track-and-field lifestyle.”)