Reed Driven to Be the World's Fastest Runner

The 2009 Canadian track and field championships touch down this weekend in Toronto, featuring Canada’s best in athletics. They will compete for berths on the World Championship team at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre.

One of the headliners is 800-metre runner Gary Reed. He is five-time Canadian champion, current Canadian record holder, 2007 World Championship silver medallist, and a fourth-place finisher at the Beijing Olympic Games last summer.

Reed, of Kamloops, B.C., is renowned for his incredible work ethic and commitment to hard training. He is, in his own words, a silent leader on the team. He leads mostly by example. There is no doubt other athletes look up to him, watch how he does things, as there is no better Canadian model for middle distance running than Reed.

“Of all the athletes I’ve coached over the years, he has been one of the most talented and most consistent,” said his coach, Wynn Gmitroski. “He is very calculating. He knows himself very well. Gary knows what he wants and goes out and gets it.”

To the media assembled for a press conference on June 25, the straight-forward and mild-mannered Reed said his goal for the nationals and 2009 World Championships were “to win and to win.”

Three Ds adequately describe Reed as an athlete: driven, disciplined and determined. “Almost to a fault,” said Alex Gardiner, head coach and chief technical officer with Athletics Canada.

Reed, 27, said he chooses to live an athletics-focused lifestyle. “Track and field to me is like no other sport,” he told “There is no room to slip up. You are a twenty-four-seven athlete. Every decision, conscious and unconscious, has got to be directed toward being faster on the track.”

He acknowledges that it sometimes is not easy. You can’t stay up late. Watching what you eat. Missing many weddings and friends’ events. Despite this, he finds track enjoyable. “I realize that track isn’t something I can do when I’m 40,” Reed said. “I’m trying to get the most out of it now and be the best I can be now.”

To that end, Gmitroski devises training schedules that allow Reed to be in peak form when he needs to be. “Wynn is the master of piecing it all together,” Reed said. The runner trains 10 months a year, twice a day, six days a week. Much of it is punishing.

He is driven by one clear goal.

“I’ve never been number-one in the world. I’ve come close, but never been the number one guy. That’s what I want to attain. That keeps me going every day.”