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Cawston man runs London Marathon, aims for Boston next

One of the founders of Sharpe Distillery chases dreams on world stage
Cawston man CEJ Mussell ran in the 2024 London Marathon, one of six major marathons he aims to participate in. His next goal is Boston.

After starting with upholding a long-held dream, a Cawston man's goal has grown beyond running a simple marathon to running in the six major marathons across the world. 

"I used to run track and field when I was younger, then as I got older, I thought to myself, 'One day, I'm going to run a marathon,'" said CEJ Mussell. "Then all of a sudden I was turning 50 I thought, well, better get to it."

Mussell, one of the founders of Sharpe Distillery in Cawston, set the Boston Marathon as his target. To make it in, he would need to train and qualify by running in a different marathon first. 

After launching himself into training, including injuries and recovery from pushing too hard, Mussell hired a coach to make sure his training was helping, not hindering.

While there is more to training than just running, like strength training and balance work, a lot of it is simply getting out and moving. 

"I run every day of the week, at some level," said Mussell. "Even my days off are a 40-minute walk. If you don't work out for a few days in a row, you lose what you gain very quickly."

When Mussell started training, he set himself an additional goal on top of participating in a marathon. 

"I wasn't actually gonna attempt to run one until I knew in my mind I could go under four hours," said Mussell. "In that first month or two of training, I thought there's no way I'm gonna be able to do this because the speed required to run a sub four-hour marathon, I couldn't even sustain for three kilometers."

Over the next few months, with more training, and after hiring David Haro to coach him, that time came into sight. 

Mussell didn't let his original goal be a plateau for him, as once four hours were within reach, he started striving towards a 3:45 time, and then 3:31, and then on the day of his first marathon in Washington State, it was sub-3:25. 

He ended up completing the Tunnels Marathon in 3:23:30. 

"I was quite pleased with that," Mussell said. "It didn't leave much room to qualify for Boston, but it was under it."

Unfortunately, despite having been enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon's original mark, the event lowered its qualification times after being flooded with entries. While his time was 0:01:30 below the normal cutoff, the organizers dropped the cutoff point by five minutes, well below Mussell's time. 

Unable to run in the Boston Marathon, Mussell looked around before finally setting his sights on the London Marathon. 

"So I had this idea that I'm going to maybe run all six majors in marathon running; Chicago, New York, Berlin, Tokyo, Boston and London," said Mussell. "I had this idea that maybe I'll try to run them all."

On April 21, Mussell set out as one of over 65,000 runners, crossing the Tower Bridge, and passing Big Ben, before he finished with a time of 3:25 on the dot. That's enough to qualify him for Boston, if they don't drop the cutoff again. 

"The London Marathon itself is pretty spectacular because for 26 miles, it is lined with people rows deep cheering, and there's bands playing and there's cheerleaders and there's bagpipes and everything you can think of happens on that course in support of the runners," said Mussell.

Now, the Cawston rummer is once again preparing to take on the Tunnels Marathon in Washington State, where he hopes to better his time from 2023 and secure a place in Boston. 

"What I found in London is with these bigger marathons, it's hard to get a personal best time because there are very big crowds," said Mussell. "So you can't run in a straight line, you're zigzagging the whole way."

With the Tunnels Marathon not happening until September, Mussell is focusing on other events, including the Interior Racing Series of shorter races, and events down on the coast.

The distillery is holding its own Fun Run/Walk on June 30, with kids and pets and everyone else welcome to come down. There will be a 5K race around 1 p.m., and games and events on the property all day. 

Mussell made sure to thank his family for their support with the committment of energy and time for the marathons. 

"You have to have people on your side who are willing to put up with your early morning and late night runs and weird eating routines and all these sorts of things," said Mussell. "I'm very fortunate that I have a wife who's very supportive and keen to support me in my ambitions."

Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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