Meet Your Coach: Brendan Hunt
I started running competitively in 1997, during high school. I trained with Mississauga Track Club in Ontario and raced both track and cross country throughout Ontario regularly and at a highly competitive cross country race in New York every year. I quickly improved, from a 31st place finish at the Ontario high school cross country championships in grade 9 to a 4th place finish in grade 11.
Between 2002 and 2007, I ran with the University of Guelph Gryphons. During my rookie year, the men’s cross country team was shooting for their 5th straight CIS (national varsity) win. In cross country, the top 5 runners from each team count for the team scores. With 2km left in the 10k Championship race, I was running directly behind a competitor from Guelph’s rival team, and my coach told me from the sidelines that I had to finish ahead of him or the Guelph team would finish in second. But after finishing 2 seconds ahead of him, our team score tied with our rival team’s score. In the case of a tie, the winner is decided by which 5th place runner was ahead of the other team’s 5th place runner – and that was me! It is comparable to winning a 50k race with only a 2 second margin. It remains the closest win in CIS history.
Brendan’s Running Highlights and Accomplishments
Click to expand each of the sections below.
- 5:27:45 (3rd) at my first ultra-marathon at Whistler Alpine Meadows 55k (2019)
- Won and set course records at Sky Pilot 25k (2017), Squamish 23k (2018), Whistler Alpine Meadows 25k (2018), and Vertikiller 25k (2018)
- 49:04 (2nd) at Gutbuster 11.8km, Wellington, New Zealand (2008)
- 26:19 (1st) at Oakville Magical Races 8km, Ontario (2007)
I owe much of my successes in the sport to my past coaches, who have provided a wealth of knowledge that helped me understand what was required to be the best you can be as a distance runner. These were highly accomplished coaches. My coach throughout high school was the former Canadian record holder in the 3,000m steeplechase (8:36 set in 1977), and represented Canada at 15 international events (including Pan American Games, Commonwealth Games, World Cross Country Championships, and the World University Cross Country Championships). My university coach is considered the most decorated coach in Canadian history. These coaches showed me how to lead and inspire as a coach through communication, support, and getting things done. They taught me that there is a balance between being precise and when you can free form it a little more. There needs to be a freedom in the sport, and a hunger and an ability to just riff off of where you’re at. I have integrated their training methods and techniques, and applied these to my own coaching philosophy for trail running.
The core principles are: personalized training focused on the athlete’s abilities and the goal race; and making the process fun and memorable. I focus on designing workouts that simulate the profile of your goal race, and adapting your body to manage what it needs to handle on race day. Many ultra runners assume that high mileage equates with success, but if you just go and run a ton of volume without planning it sensibly, you’re going to break down. The Shire Racing Team training plans will help you to optimize your training and achieve your racing goals.
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