Blog #110

Hey Folks, this weeks Post is a little different. This week I am pumped to have a guest blogger- My Dad!

Pops has always been a rock and he’s been there every step along the way. He has written up a history of my running endeavors of sorts. Hope you like it, Thanks Dad, love ya!

It Takes a Family to Raise a Marathon Runner

Sibling Rivalry

Robbie D has been running for less than 24 years … he didn’t start competing seriously until he was almost 7 when he successfully completed the London, Forest City 10k. The race officials were initially reluctant to let him enter until it was brought to their attention that his 2 older brothers, Peter and Michael, had been routinely winning their age categories for several years. Robin (aka Robbie D) was soon joined on the roads by his 8 year old brother Scott as they began a serious but friendly sibling rivalry that lasted for 6 wonderful spring-summer road race seasons. They had some classic head-to-heads at the Crim Races in Flint MI, the Huron House Boys Race in Sarnia, the Port Huron to Sarnia Race, the New Hamburg 8k, the London Forest 10k and one memorial battle at a July 4th 10k event  in Ottawa. Somewhere in the attic or behind the furnace at the longtime family home there is a large dusty plastic container full of plaques and medals collected along the way. Somewhere buried in that collection is the medal from a race run in the pouring rain in Sarasota, Florida where Robin captured the under 12 age category – the medals that day were handed out by John, the elder, Kelley of Boston Marathon fame. The Robin-Scott rivalry came down to speed versus focus and determination –  Robin became the grinder with relentless mental toughness that quite often overcame Scott’s superior speed and style.

Rob Finishing the 8km race at Crim 1995, he won his age group.

Family Roll Models

Even before Robin joined the chaos on the pavement he had been subjected to several years of being wakened early, forced fed a quick breakfast, packed into the back seat of the family mini-van and trucked off to a Saturday and/or Sunday morning road race. Brothers Peter and Michael were veteran road warriors of considerable early success. The expectation of running hard and winning was passed on from the older brothers to the younger pair …. from a very early age Robin wanted to run and he wanted to win. Scott didn’t feel nearly as much pressure and gave up running when he discovered girls and other distractions. Upon reflection it has become a strongly held family belief (it has grown from a mere suggestion to a theory to an unassailable belief) that the most important single event leading to Robin’s continued focus and resultant success after those early formidable years can be directly attributed to the impulsive family trip to Peter’s Big East Track & Field Championship meet held at Rutgers University when Robin was about 16. The weather was warm and sunny, there was excitement and competitive energy in the air, and Robin was exposed to a joyous gathering of several hundred physically impressive track athletes (including long legged females in shorts) having a fantastic time – what could possibly be better? Immediately, as the myth/theory/belief goes he became obsessed with eventually becoming part of that lifestyle.

A Family of Runners.

The Road Leads to ??

So far the supportive parents have been to  – (the first 20 or so that come to mind) –  Houston, Berlin, San Diego, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Washington, Eugene (very memorable) Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Guelph, Sarnia, Windsor, Terra Haute, Minneapolis, Fort Collins, Boston, Morgantown, Storrs, Flint, New Hamburg, Columbus …. The results at these venues were mixed but always memorable. The Steve Prefontaine Classic, Eugene, Oregon, June 7, 2009 was a last minute decision, and a truly magical experience, where Rob Watson – Canada  delivered his fastest career Steeplechase  …. sometimes just being there was the reward for past efforts such as a World Championship meet in Berlin or an NCAA Championship meets in Sacramento or Terra Haute …. other times it was the gratifying performances at a Conference Championship in San Diego or a National Championship in Ottawa or Toronto that reinforced Robin’s will to compete, and justified the sacrifice necessary to continue. We don’t spend much time remembering the difficult days – I think Robin learned that valuable trait as an oft-struggling /slump prone goalie in his hockey and soccer days.

Coaches and Family

Coming from a family including an Olympian Aunt, a CFL uncle, a World Champion cousin, a NCAA scholarship brother and a dedicated hard running mother it can be traced to the Grandmother (aka Dodie)as having provided the athletic genes. The father provided rides to the track, some financial support and the early FFTF strategy (fade from the front) which works up until you get a real coach. And nothing can diminish the support of the family fan club lead by sister-ln-law Kristin,  Aunt Jill ( of Olympic background), brothers Scott, Michael and Erik  (whose lack of an in-house sibling to rival leaves him as a great natural talent as of yet untested.)

Parental evaluation of coaches and opinion about coaching strategy is of very little importance and should be avoided in the best interest of the athlete – having said that I must confess that I haven’t always (actually never) adhered to that truism …. I’ve routinely given unsolicited advice but don’t expect it to be followed …. and because I personally knew some of Robin’s excellent coaches better than others (Sean Cleary of West Virginia was very important and brother Peter, now at Virginia, coached him to his fastest 2 marathons to date) it doesn’t mean that I don’t acknowledge that Robin has obviously had quality coaching at all the stops along the route or he wouldn’t be where he is now. Great work from Dave, Paul, Del, Brian and DST. Moving forward coach Rich now is at the helm with lofty goals.

Today, December 26, 2013, Robin won the Hamilton Boxing Day 10 miler in 49:52 – a successful day’s effort … it was icy, cold with a nasty wind off the lake but a good opportunity for Robin to get in a hard run and for the parents to watch their little Robbie D run faster than all those other boys.

Celebrating a good run, Ottawa 2013.

Jan 2014


COMMENTS 12 Comments

12 Responses to “Blog #110”

  1. Eric Spence says:

    That was a fantastic blog! The sibling rivalry. Great to hear how it all started.

  2. Fan of RW says:

    I need a tissue

  3. Anonymous says:

    Nice write up Mr Watson – you’re obviously very proud of your boys (and rightly so)

    Hey Rob – in the family pic, are you the one waving or sucking your thumb?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great Blog from your Dad, Destroyer. All the best with new coach.

    Stal Go easy on the suds lol :-)

  5. lwtrackclub says:

    I remember being at road races in london in the 80’s when Robbie was a short fat kid walking around with a torn up blanket. Never thought he would turn into the runner he is today.

    • rob says:

      haha, I was chubby as hell, that’s why they called me lumpy! I guess those 100mile weeks leaned me out and I have good genes, I’m a lucky one!

  6. TR says:

    Brought back a lot of family memories in my life. My father wore old running shoes and race t-shirts everyday of his life. My sister always won her age brackets and bragged about it. Me, I just thought it was the way every family should spend their time together. Thanks for the trip down memory lane

  7. Catton says:

    The Watson family legend. South SS heros!

    My favourite Watson family running memory is Pete smoking some oblivious girl while he was in the middle of an 800m race.


  8. Steepleman says:

    Thanks for that trip down memory lane, Peter Sr. Us here, back in old London Town are proud of all the Watsons and what they have brought to the running community here in London. Maybe you next big trip will be to Rio!

  9. Marilynn says:

    The Watson boys always Ran. They ran to school. They ran in the playground. They ran in the gym … and probably in the halls when we weren’t looking ! They were born to run !
    I can remember Mom pushing Erik in the stroller while walking(?) the boys to school.. They were in the playground by the time Mom turned the corner !!!!
    Happy memories of the Watson family !

  10. Anthony says:

    Good stuff from yer old man. Family beats all.

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