Running with the Gryphons
Ten years ago I had the great privilege of running with one of Canada’s top University running squads. I was pretty green back then and figured the best course of action was to jump full in with a bunch of runners for the year. I happened to land at a University and coach that has gone on to create a dynasty in Canadian varsity running. I lost count on the number of OUA and CI titles they’ve accumulated about 4 years ago but they recently one the OUA title again this year setting a record for the lowest point tally in history.
The man behind the Gryphons is Dave Scott Thomas, a young, enthusiastic run coach who believes in simple programming and hard work. I remember workouts being pretty basic, nothing fancy but extremely productive. I used to think it was simply the group of guys we had in the 1999-2000 season but after we all graduated the winning continued. Many of the runners that graduated from the program have stayed on in Guelph and are still coached by Dave including Reid Coolsaet who is one of Canada’s top 5 and 10,000 meter runners.
The time I spent with the Gryphons was relatively short all things considered but it has had a major lasting impression on me and my career. My part on the team was relatively insignificant. I was an alternate in the 99/00 season and was a mid to back of the packer in the races. At the time we didn’t really have any superstars on the team although Steve Bendo was pretty dam fast and Reid was winning the big ones by the end but we didn’t have a guy who was truly dominating everyone at CI’s. What the team did have however was incredible depth and matched abilities. The top 5 guys were always finishing neck and neck which made the team scores very low and consistent. I think it was the 00/01 season where the Gryphons won OU’s by the tightest margin in history and it came down to the score of the 5th man who I believe was Kyle “Dezzy” Desmourauex who finished literally one spot higher in a sprint finish than the Waterloo counterpart and that secured the title.
I feel incredibly lucky to have run even for one season with this group of guys and under DST. It taught me that sport has magical moments outside of the larger limelight of big pro sports. These events take place in relative obscurity in the giant world of sport yet they produce some moments that are so intense and so awesome you would need a better writer than I to get the point across with true justice. So in the mean time I hope you enjoy some of the photos that were recently dug up from that 99/00 team. They’re a bit grainy but hey man it was 10 years ago, they didn’t even have wireless back then.