By Paul Gains
Runners across the globe are lured by the spectacle of the marathon and it’s no different for Vancouver’s Thomas Broatch who will mark his debut at the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon on October 15.
The former University of British Columbia runner works full-time as a software engineer while managing to implement a training program to get the best out of him.
This commitment to training rewarded him with a personal best of 1:04:09 at the Monterey Half Marathon in California last year and, more recently, a third-place finish at the 2023 First Half Vancouver Half Marathon (1:04:23). He has also raced on the track frequently at distances from 1,500m to 10,000m.
“As a runner, I want to do all the distances,” the 24-year-old explains. “In training, I like the long runs – especially as I have gotten older. I have enjoyed that type of training and injury-wise I have been in a really good spot. I was already running a lot to train for the 10k and half marathon so I didn’t feel like moving up to the marathon would be too risky or too big of a jump.”
Whether this is the start of a marathon career or not depends largely on how Toronto Waterfront goes.
“If the race goes well – and I enjoy the experience – definitely doing more marathons down the line would be an option,” he continues. “At the same time, I really do like the 10k and half marathon and the good thing about those is you can do more of them in a year. I will still have the option of dropping down in distance after this race.
“For the 10k I was already doing 170km a week or so. We bumped that up to 180km – a bit of an increase. I have just added the long runs. I would do more 30km to 35km long runs and now I am doing more 35k to 40k. Overall it hasn’t been too big a change.”
These days Broatch trains with the Vancouver Thunderbirds Club under the tutelage of Chris Johnson. The pair have known each other since Broatch ran track at Point Grey High School, a school which counts comedian Seth Rogen as an alumnus. Occasionally he would jump in workouts with the club and then both, by some good fortune, wound up at UBC and then the ‘Thunderbirds’. This consistency of coaching can’t be understated.
The training group however is not marathon oriented which doesn’t seem to bother Broatch.
Among his occasional training partners are Evan Elder, a New Zealander who moved to British Columbia for studies, and John Gay, who represented Canada at the 2022 Commonwealth Games where he was 4th in the 3,000m steeplechase. Their devotion to athletics has left a mark on Broatch. But he seems particularly inspired by Cam Levins who first set a Canadian record at Toronto Waterfront Marathon back in 2018 and went on to run 2:05:36 – a North American record in 2022.
“For inspiration definitely Cam Levins; he’s a Canadian and from the same province,” Broatch declares. “I don’t think 2:05 is in my talent range but he is definitely an inspiration, seeing how competitive he is on the international stage.”
The pair met for the first time at the Canadian 10k championships in Ottawa this past May.
Although he works from home he says he likes to train at the same time each day managing his time appropriately. Clearly, he is pleased to call Vancouver home.
“For leisure, these past couple of years I have been getting into golf during the summer,” he responds when asked how he spends downtime. “I played some full course golf which is maybe too long for me but the shorter courses I find are a really great way to spend an afternoon. That’s pretty fun.
“Vancouver is also a great place to go for casual bike rides. Great weather and I am mostly hanging out with friends on the beach. I was born in Vancouver and spent pretty much all my life here.”
As the field comes together he is aware that Canadian championship medals are on the line – in addition to $8,000 to the first Canadian – and this is another attractive feature of the race.
“Oh yeah for sure. I like to race the national championships as much as possible especially since I know most of the Canadian runners,” he admits. “I actually do not know who is racing. I would definitely like to be on the podium.”
With the unfortunate and recent withdrawal of Tristan Woodbine due to injury the men’s race appears wide open, but that can certainly change in the coming weeks. Regardless, the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon is a pivotal point in Thomas Broatch’s career.
“This race will decide what the rest of my running career will look like,” he says. “I think either trying to run some more marathons or also I’d like to bring my 10k and half marathon times down. It’s mostly whether I still enjoy the sport.”
About the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon
The TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon is Canada’s premier running event and the grand finale of the Canada Running Series (CRS). Since 2017, the race has served as the Athletics Canada national marathon championship race and has doubled as the Olympic trials. Using innovation and organization as guiding principles, Canada Running Series stages great experiences for runners of all levels, from Canadian Olympians to recreational and charity runners. With a mission of “building community through the sport of running,” CRS is committed to making sport part of sustainable communities and the city-building process.
To learn more about the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon, visit www.torontowaterfrontmarathon.com