© Copyright – 2011 – Christopher Kelsall

Canadian 10,000m record holder Simon Bairu (27:23), will make his second attempt at challenging the marathon and the Olympic qualifying time of 2:11:29 when he races the Chevron Houston Marathon, Sunday January 15th, 2012 in Houston, Texas (he dropped out of NY). But qualifying is only part of the incentive to run well.Bairu will also need to have one of the top-three times in Canada to ensure his position on the team. Currently Eric Gillis (2:11:27) and Reid Coolsaet (2:10:54) have two of those positions, while Dylan Wykes(2:12:39) may potentially run a qualifying time, Wykes has not yet announced which race he will attempt before the April deadline.Bairu’s goal is to finish sub-2:11, doing so puts distance between himself and the other two. Bairu did not mention the looming shadow on Canadian marathoners and that is the 36-year-old Canadian Marathon record time of 2:10:09, which is currently held by Jerome Drayton, who achieved that mark in Fukuoka, Japan in December 1975, but the record must be in the back of his mind.The heat is onIf all that isn’t enough incentive to run a fast time, he is also challenging fans to gamble their money on him. “I am raising money for the Boys and Girls Club of Regina, I support the local Portland, Oregon Boys and Girls Club and of course Regina is my home town” he said.

How the betting works depends on how you want to wager your money. There are three ways to challenge Mr. Bairu in Houston, as he explains on his website:

“You have three options when donating; you can give a flat rate donation which means your pledge is not tied to my performance, an over under donation means you pledge a certain amount if I run sub-2:11, but if I don’t run the time then you only donate a percent of your pledge. A sliding scale donation means the faster I run the more you donate. All donations are tax deductible”.

Training talk

In preparation for the Houston Marathon, Bairu has been training with more confidence. “Here we are with six weeks to go and I am really excited to race, where six weeks before the Toronto Marathon (which he did not start due to fatigue) I was worried there was not enough time remaining,” he shared.

Bairu has been training primarily in Portland, Oregon with the likes of Tim Nelson, Brent Vaughn and getting some running in with Matt Tegenkamp and others. “Today I ran a 24- miler, the first two miles were a warm-up, then I ran 22 miles at 5:30 pace, it went very well.”

He will be competing in the Miami half-marathon this weekend and racing at 4:57 mile pace. “The San Antonio half that I raced in November was run at five-minute-per-mile, he said, “Miami will be run slightly faster, at marathon pace”.

Asked what the difference was between preparation for Toronto and this training cycle, Bairu sited: not having enough time leading up and doing too much in training. “The race, when you get down to it, is probably the easy part, it is all the details in training leading up to it, if you take care of the details, the race will take care of itself.”

One of those details is preparation for the course. The marathon course is flat, with a single hill that happens around the 14 mile mark. “We have a 12-mile route in Oregon that we use for various workouts, it is fairly flat, but we do mix it up and run rolling hills too. If I can run five-minute miles on hills, then I can run five-minute miles on the flat.”

The heat may be on Bairu, but he is preparing for it.

The potentiality of a hot day is yet another detail he is taking care of. Although the average daily high temperature in Houston during mid-January is around 65 degrees farenheit, it can climb into the 80s. San Antonio and Miami half-marathons, according to Bairu, are at least partially chosen for the heat. “Yeah that is definitely part of it and also to get some time at marathon pace,” he said.

As for his plans after Houston, he said, “we have one goal right now and that is Houston. After Houston is run, then we talk about the rest of the year, but everything is feeling really good right now.”

To bet on Bairu, visit his website: www.simonbairu.com.

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