Paul Gains, Toronto Waterfront Marathon

World class marathon running returns to Toronto after a three-year Covid-induced hiatus with the 2022 TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon set for October 16, 2022. 

Although the title sponsor, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), is new, some things remain unchanged. The event has earned a ‘World Athletics Elite Label’ which will ensure top class fields from across the globe offering Canada’s best a tough competitive opportunity.

Three years ago, Trevor Hofbauer captured the Canadian Marathon Championship title at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, securing a place on the Canadian Olympic team bound for Japan. In doing so, he became only the second Canadian to beat 2 hours and 10 minutes. Organizers are delighted to announce that the 30-year-old has accepted an invitation to return.

Hofbauer was 7th overall in 2019 with his 2:09:51 personal best, while Kenya’s Philemon Rono set a Canadian all comer’s standard of 2:05:00. Hofbauer relishes the challenge.

“This will be my third time doing Toronto [Waterfront Marathon],” he admits. “My memory is quite strong when it comes to courses and race experiences so I can visualise the entire Toronto Waterfront Marathon course right now as we are sitting here talking. 

“I know what to expect. I know what I have to do in my training to prepare for the race. I think there is an advantage to having that experience.”

While his Olympic experience didn’t go according to plan—he finished 48th in Sapporo with a below par 2:19:57 clocking—he has set his sights on the Paris Olympic Games two years hence. Hofbauer is not one to dwell on the past so his reaction to being asked for his thoughts on Sapporo is predictable.

“Do we have to go through it?” he says laughing. “There were a bunch of things going on in my life at that time that kind of just made my Olympic experience difficult. I am really keen and eager to make the next Olympic team and work that out and have that moment to my satisfaction.

“I had a huge amount of support from my community in Calgary and even across Canada. So, for me to represent Canada at the Olympics was mostly for the community that put resources, belief, time, and effort and saw the potential in me. I thank them for that. Even though I didn’t live up to my personal standards a lot of people were proud of me even just completing the race.”

He remembers sitting on the bus from Sapporo to Tokyo’s Narita airport following the Olympic marathon. Posting his thoughts on Instagram while he began his long journey home, he began to think of ways to redeem himself.

“I took a look at the races coming up in the spring and there’s no bigger marathon in the world than Boston,” he declares. “In my head, I kind of circled the date on the calendar and said, ‘I am going to make Boston happen and that’s going to be my redemption for the Olympics.’”

On April 18, 2022, he finished 15th in Boston, running a time of 2:10:52. The experience was another positive in his successful marathon career. In Beantown, he shared time with fellow Canadian Olympians Malindi Elmore and Natasha Wodak, and was delighted to see coaches Trent Stellingwerf and Graham Hood on the course cheering the Canadians on.

The ‘redemption’ must be credited to some life changes Hofbauer made after the Olympics. In October 2021 he began working with BC Endurance coach, Richard Lee. A few weeks later he moved from his home in Calgary to British Columbia where he has friends and family he wanted to spend more time with. And he has enrolled in the University of British Columbia, Okanagan four-year psychology course. With some collegiate eligibility remaining, he will run cross country for UBC Okanagan under coach Malindi Elmore, the Canadian women’s marathon record holder.

“I was talking with Malindi in Sapporo about wanting to go to school there and she did a good job selling the area,” he jokes. “Okanagan had a program I was looking for. I wanted to be close to Vancouver but I didn’t want to be in Vancouver. And it’s not too far away from Calgary.”

Although he is a member of BC Endurance Project, he still does most of his training alone. It has been that way since he took up marathoning.

“It’s a big stress relief for me,” he acknowledges. “It’s my quiet time of the day—my escape from the world. 

“None of that changes from Calgary but I will be training with the UBC Okanagan cross country team when I do go to school. We have had some training on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which I have been attending, so I have had interaction with the group.”

Coach Richard Lee will call the shots. It was his program which Hofbauer followed in the lead up to Boston. Clearly, he has respect for the coach.

“We get along really well. We are both laid back and the way we communicate with each other works,” Hofbauer says. “I have full trust in him. He tells me what to do and I go out there and do it.”

The 14-week training program he followed for Boston will likely be altered somewhat. Boston’s famed course meant a lot of time was spent training on hills. At the moment, they are taking it a week at a time, but since Toronto is far less hilly Hofbauer expects to be doing more speed work. And what if Lee surprises him with double his usual mileage?

“Whatever the boss says goes!” he says with a smile.