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Longtime Comox Valley runner hangs up his shoes

Have you ever wondered what happens to those of us on the “racetrack” who slip off the radar?

Derek Richmond was staring at his navel a bit – and perhaps feeling a little sorry for himself – when he thought it would be cool to say “goodbye” and let others know what happened to this “old man”. man” before his 73rd year. on this rock that was regularly seen while running errands, riding bikes and pounding the pavement.

In his hometown in the UK, Richmond cycled and played field hockey, and ran track and cross-country. In Canada, he turned to middle-distance running, plus a few marathons, including Boston.

“My times weren’t bad, but the marathons just didn’t help me,” he said.

So he added triathlons to running throughout the 1980s and 1990s, then focused on duathlons (run-bike-run), competing in and winning local, provincial, national and international races. For more than 25 years, he qualified or competed in world championships as a member of the Canadian national duathlon team.

“So what? Well, at the end of last year it all stopped ‘grinding’, pun intended,” said Richmond, whose knee gave out and is now due for TKA (total replacement of the knee).

Which marks the end of his racing days – but that’s not where his story ends. While crying over a few beers, it wasn’t until he looked at his logbooks for the past 50+ years that he realized he had covered almost 113,000 kilometers – about three times the circumference of the earth – and that he had never been considered a distance runner.

“Time for reflection. Would life have been better if I hadn’t run so much? Would I have preferred to be, like so many others, a latecomer to running, to save my legs? Not on your life. I experienced running fast. Those moments don’t come when you start running later in life.

Richmond has had the humbling experience of racing with talented athletes, and had the privilege of meeting and learning from an eclectic mix of athletes, and experiencing the thrill and thrill of competing in World Championships.

“So what’s the takeaway from all of this?” Would I have done things differently if I had known what was in the cards? No chance! As has been the mantra for many others in similar situations: rather be a “has been” than a “never have been”.

Richmond said there was a lot to share with thriving young runners as well as latecomers: what can be done to protect and maximize what you have; how to increase your (hidden) potential; how to prolong your participation in sports; and above all, the advantages of having more than one card in your hand. He suggests training and having other options to fall back on if injured or in need of rest.

“The cathartic experience of giving back and sharing knowledge with others is invaluable and can be a game-changer for all parties,” Richmond said.

Looking ahead, he hopes to give back to the community, continue road biking and other activities, and take on new challenges, like swimming, which he says was a weak sequel, though he can fake it. in sprint triathlons by catching the rest. of the peloton in cycling and running and getting on the podium. He is looking forward to improving his open water swimming in the Pacific off the Mexican coast.

“The next time you see the ‘old man’ riding his new toy, an e-bike, don’t hit him,” Richmond said. “Yes, it’s a ‘has been’, but we all get there.”

Comox ValleyRunning