As appeared in Your Magazine’s fall 2017 edition. Files from Athletics Illustrated edition of story.
Photo submitted from Prarie Inn Harriers running Club. Cleaning up at Thetis Lake after the Thetis Lake Relays.

Should you be tasked with choosing an individual who, in toto, represents the running doctrine of greater Victoria, past, present, and future, you would likely choose Bob Reid. He is a cog in the system and a catalyst to the sport of running in Victoria; he stands tall amongst the most dedicated of volunteers.

He was front and centre when raising thousands of dollars to purchase green space land for people to enjoy uninterrupted forested lands, which was a partnership with the Prairie Inn Harriers Running Club and The Land Conservancy (TLC) in 2009. At the time they purchased a tract of land to connect Thetis Lake, Freeman King, Gowlland Tod and Goldstream Parks.

He has been there for many elite athletes to make their all-important qualifying race overseas, “It’ll be difficult to put into words how much he has done for the running community, I don’t think you can do it in the space provided,” offers one club member.

To him, Mecca exists in the Thetis Lake trails where moss gathers over giant fir tree roots and bedrock; blanketing the panorama like freshly-fallen, green snow.

He has run too many miles to count, raced too many races to remember and has been holding the candle on his running club’s mantel for more than 40 years. He is past president of British Columbia’s largest running club; however; he continues to preside over many details and leaves the minutiae to the good people he surrounds himself with. Club member, Dee Ogden says. “Bob Reid has motivated me to become a more focussed runner. He is encouraging and helpful in pointing out strengths and where one could improve and does so in an open and easy manner. One of the best parts of racing is seeing and hearing Bob on the course and finish-line offering encouragement. I believe the runner I am today, is due in large part to Bob Reid.”

Since the late 1970s, he has held an executive capacity within the club where the effects often extend well into the greater running community, here is a truncated list:

Director (many races) currently Thetis Lake Relays, Bob Magical Mile, Stewart Mountain 10-mile, Gunner Shaw Cross Country Classic and Pioneer 8K. He has created several races that are still running today.

He is a post PIH club president, which he held for five years. He is the long-serving Club Treasurer, Equipment Manager and Select Teams Manager. For years he created and led the club’s weekly workout program.

A onetime rugby player, Reid found running when he was told to stop taking contact on his broken collarbone. Until recently, he was umpiring competitive ball on the various diamonds throughout Greater Victoria. An arthritic hip hardly slowed him and when he finally got it replaced, he was up and beating the medical staff across the hospital room floor performing one-legged hops.

He has a more detailed trail map system memorized, than the CRD parks department have documented on paper. His trail knowledge is probably second only to his long-time training partner Dan Harlow, to whom Reid claims to be most indebted to after many years and many miles run together.

On one marathon-training long run a few summers ago, Reid crewed a few runners on a route aptly named, “the Highland Grind”, which roles over 22 miles of back-country roads and forested hills. The Highland Grind is a route where the climbs seem to have no end. He rode his bicycle to certain points and ran for stretches to show us shortcuts and where to run in, when the signs read, stay out. Reid hung a left on one of these trails onto a bridge, which collapsed under his weight. We found him standing in the middle of it, knee-deep in the creek grinning.

The bridge collapse represents a Reid-aphorism; you haven’t had a good run until you have bled.

Personal Bests (All achieved as a master, 40-plus)

400m – :58
1,500m – 4:19
Mile – 4:40
5K – 15:47
8K – 26:05
10K – 32:54
12K – 41:33
15K – 50:43
10 Miles – 54:55
20K – 1:08:47
21.1K – 1:11:47 – (Provincial M40-44 Record)
42.2K – 2:38:31
50K – 3:34:34
60K – 4:22:34 – (Canadian M40-44 Record)
50Mi – 5:59:05
100K – 8:09:30
100Miles – 27:39:13

He has won the Prairie Inn Harriers (PIH) Most Valuable Runner award, Master of the Year and the Durability Award three times. He continued to race into his 60s, with a new right hip.

Reid launched the Gunner Shaw Cross Country Classic after his good friend, club founder and president, Bruce ‘Gunner’ Shaw died too early in a car crash.

Shaw, like Reid, enjoyed the trails. So in his honour Reid designed the race as a gnarly fixture; the way Gunner would have liked it. The race provides 10K of hills, mud, rocks and roots. ‘A fall classic’ according to Runner’s World Magazine.

Most importantly, race proceeds go to bursaries. To date, the event has raised over $200,000 for various projects.

It is surprising how many hundreds of people show up to run this 10K cross country race, complete with a knee-deep, cold-water hazard at mid-point, which is about 50-metres long. In order to enter the finish chute, runners must first enter Thetis Lake for a waist-deep run for a further 50-metres. The race, of course, happens in mid-November. Some people swim those last few metres.

Common Reidisms

  • When in doubt go up.
  • There is no such thing as over-training, just under-training.
  • When the signs says, ‘Keep out’, go in.
  • Sometimes it is easier to run hard than it is to run easy.
  • When you reach a fork in the trail, take it.
  • Only running will help your running.
  • The only thing harder than running is not running.
  • Never think about yesterday’s run, when you are running today.
  • When your doctor tells you to alternate hard/easy runs, start running twice a day, so you can run hard every day.
  • Every hill has a top, find it and enjoy.

Asked why more people run road and trail races today, yet do not perform nearly as well, he said, “there too many distracting gadgets, too much science, too much cross-training, not enough hills or interval sessions and not enough punishing group runs.

Reid likes his mileage. At a training discussion that he hosted to give direction for would-be marathon runners to follow, he took out his old training logs and showed his meticulous attention to detail of his marathon and ultra-marathon training. The pages looked eerily similar to each other. Each week ended with another 100-mile (162K) week completed, ad-nauseam.

“Runners need to run a minimum of 70 miles per week (115K), 80 (135K) is even better, 100-miles (162K) per week is optimum.

Asked about his old training friend Dan Harlow said, Bob Reid is a kick-ass runner, a trail fanatic, a meticulous organizer, supportive club member, a true mentor, the most loyal of friends. It has been a real privilege to run races, relays, mountains and trails with Bob, these past 20 years.”