Windsor, Ontario’s Brandon McBride is one of Canada’s best 800m runners. He won the NCAA division one indoor championships by upsetting pre-race favourite Kenyan Edward Kemboi by crossing the line in 1:48.17 to Kemboi’s 1:48.54. He holds the North American high school outdoors record with his impressive 1:46.07. The 20-year-old ran a new personal best during the 2014 season with his 1:45.35.
In March, McBride told Athletics Illustrated, “My goal is to hit the Commonwealth Games A-standard this year so that I can represent my country. If I can do that my year will be complete and successful.” Twenty-eight days later in Walnut, California he ran that new personal best time of 1:45.35. The A-standard is 1:45.30, while the B-standard is 1:46.20. He followed-up that performance by winning the Canadian Track and Field Championships on June 30th in Moncton, New Brunswick, by finishing in 1:46.69, this performance solidified his nomination to compete in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
McBride possesses outstanding potential and has demonstrated great range as he boasts excellent results in the 200m, 400m as well as good cross country performances. One unknown entity in track and field is the up and coming youth, like McBride. Often big international elite breakthroughs happen in staccato bursts that come on unexpectedly and occasionally in large jumps. A good example is the Kenyan marathon runners from the past few years.
It can be argued that Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru was one of the first teenagers to break the tradition of distance runners who wait until their late-20s to early-30s to move up in distance to the marathon. It was thought that once an athlete loses some natural speed for the shorter distances, it would be time to move up. It worked for Paul Tergat and Haile Gebrselassie, two former world marathon record holders.
At the age of 18 Wanjiru broke the world half-marathon record by finishing in the time of 58:53, he did this in the 2007 edition of the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon. One month later he reduced the record by another 20 seconds at the City-Pier-City Half Marathon in The Hague, Netherlands. He went onto debut in the marathon distance by racing the Fukuoka Men’s Marathon in Fukuoka, Japan; he ran 2:06:39. The World collectively turned their heads when Wanjiru won the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon in an Olympic record time of 2:06:32, in warm temperatures, by running away from his competition. There was nothing tactical about his effort. Carlos Lopes of Portugal held the previous Olympic record of 2:09:31 – he was 37-years-old when he accomplished this result during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games marathon.
What does a teenage marathon runner have in common with a young 800m runner? Youth of course and McBride has already demonstrated talent at various disciplines like indoor and outdoor track, cross country, sprints as well as aerobically-based distances, and like Wanjiru he demonstrates a preference to racing fast, rather than tactically. “For outdoors I’m definitely going to focus more on time so that I can set myself up for a nice summer. Running tactical races are fun but running fast is better,” shared McBride when asked (in March 2014) about his upcoming outdoor season plans.
There is a very large difference between running 1:45.35 and competing with the best in the world and it is a stretch to compare a marathon runner to an 800m runner; however, McBride has the benefit of the unknown potential that lies within developing youth.
The World record holder Kenyan, David Rudisha won the gold medal during the 2012 London Olympic Games. He finished in the time of 1:40.91, which stands as the world record. Teammate Timothy Titum finished third in 1:42.53; these times seem unreachable; however, Kenyan Wilfred Bungei won gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games when he finished in 1:44.65. Canadian Gary Reed was in that race and finished a heart-breaking fourth in 1:44.94.
Finish times can vary greatly in the 800m event, for example during the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games final Boaz Lalang finished first in 1:46.60. Boaz was followed in by teammates Richard Kiplagat in 1:46.95 and Kiplangat Abraham in 1:47.37, times that are well within McBride’s capability.