Two-time Canadian Olympian Bruce Deacon in partnership with Frontrunners (running stores), New Balance, GoodLife Fitness and the Prairie Inn Harriers running club has coordinated a youth training program that will be run out of Victoria, BC. It will be named the Prairie Inn Harriers Youth Team. The motto reads, “Moving Victoria youth towards distance running excellence.”
“Success at distance running really isn’t a mystery. If you get a good group of athletes who are willing to work hard, then kids will improve, run fast, have fun, and win championships. My job is to create a positive and fun group dynamic, and provide sound and progressive coaching. If those things are there, success just happens,” shared Deacon.
In addition to his two Olympic marathon races, Deacon also competed three times in the IAAF World Track and Field Championships. He finished as high as 11th overall. He owns a personal best of 2:13, which he has run four times and at least as impressively he has finished sub-2:20 at least 19 times as well as right on the 2:20 mark on several more occasions. As a master, he competed in the Boston Marathon finishing in the time of 2:23. He owns a Pan American Games silver medal.
When asked what prompted him to put together the group he said, “Really it’s a couple of things. I have run for 35 years now, and some of the most fun I have had with the sport was as a high school athlete running on my club team. We had an incredible program with lots of awesome runners and great camaraderie. I learned a lot about running and even more about myself. It is then that I fell head over heels in love with the sport.”
Deacon is a life-long runner. He ran two marathons as a twelve-year-old, (he was subsequently talked out of marathon running at that age by the legendary Bill Rogers) and continues to run today into his mid-40s. In November, he competed in the Canadian Cross Country Championships. Deacon said, “I was quite fortunate to have some really good coaching and did fairly well in high school. I hope that I can help some of the local kids to experience some success and to have fun with the sport. It is just such a great life-long activity. The other week I was over at the National Cross Country Championships and there I am at 46 running with guys I knew in high school. What a great sport!”
For the past six years, Deacon has been the official online coach of the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon, a race he has won. He also privately coaches competitive age-group athletes. The GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon, formerly known as the Royal Victoria Marathon started in 1979. The event also includes a half-marathon, 8K and 1K kid’s race and hosts nearly 12, 000 participants.
“When my two boys expressed an interest in joining a track club and running distance races, I was really excited for them. I wanted them to have as positive an experience in the sport as I had. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a group that catered to young and aspiring distance runners. I figured it was up to me to start something or steer them towards another sport,” said Deacon. “I started running at 11 years old at a summer camp. Rob Reid (ironically, the owner of Frontrunners) was on staff and was pretty excited about distance running. The first running boom was in full flight and he had just run his first marathon. He started a running club and it was then that I got exposed to running. Being much shorter and less coordinated than the other kids, I finally found some sporting success in distance running.”
The Prairie Inn Harriers running club was formed a year earlier in 1978 and is currently the largest running club in BC and potentially the largest in Canada with over 800 members (including a few dogs). Members range in ability from walkers to international-level runners and triathletes, varsity athletes, and recreational age-group competitors.
“I think that there is a ton of talent here in Victoria. There is no reason why the Prairie Inn Youth Team can’t become one of the premier youth programs in Canada. We currently have great support with the club, New Balance, Frontrunners and GoodLife Fitness. I am really stoked about what is starting and looking forward to building something exciting.”