Male Runner of the Year - Tony Guillen

Felton Wright

I have a theory that I have researched over many years. It is that most people start running and improve for about 10 years, then start slowing down. This is usually true whether we start running at 16 years of age or are in our 50s. Few runners I have talked to have had PRs after 10 years of running. Tonight’s male runner of the year award winner blows this theory to hell. He had a year most of us could only dream about.

Let me provide some facts. This year’s winner raced a total of 134.9 miles in 2009 races. Of these 134. 9 racing miles, 90.1 miles were PRs. This year‘s male runner of the year competed in 18 races in 2009. He had PRs in 16 of them. Not only has he improved drastically in 2009, he has been competitive. In 10 of the 18 races, he has placed in the top 5 overall. 

Tonight’s winner has set PRs during 2009 in the 1 mile, 5K, 10K, 12K, 15K, and half-marathon. These PRs were not just set, they were smashed. His 5K PR dropped by over a minute in 2009. His 10K PR fell by 1 1/2 minutes, as a split in a 15K. 

The 2009 male runner of the year offers the rest of us hope about possibly improving after running for 10 years. You might ask, “What did he do different to improve like that? How can I do it?”

I have observed Tony Guillen’s 2009 racing success carefully. There are three aspects of his training that he changed in 2009. You don’t get these from Runner’s World or Gary Droze.

      1. Injury prevention. He was able to stay healthy. Our winner is mechanical in nature, as he holds an engineering degree from one of those small schools off of I-75. To prevent injuries in 2009, he pulled out one of his advanced college textbooks from his course “how to fix everything with duct tape.” Any time his knee was hurting he put duct tape on it. If his hamstring was hurting, he duct taped it. I am not sure and don’t want to know where else he put it. This kept him healthy for 2009. However, he only uses color coded duct tape that matches the rest of his outfits. For some reason, he thinks orange and blue tape works the best. Check him out at the next race. He will be wearing tape.

      2. Nutrition. In 2009 our winner changed his diet. He stopped eating. He has lost at last count 24 pounds. Rumor is the weight watcher’s racing team is trying to sponsor him. Money saved on power bars was spent on tape.

      3. Training partners. This was his real key. In 2009 Tony started sleeping in and ignoring his slower training partners.

By any standards, Tony Guillen has had an incredible 2009 racing year. In my 35 years of running, I have never seen any experienced runner improve like this.   It is with a great deal of pride that I would like to present the 2009 Gulf Winds Track Club Male Runner of the Year award to Tony Guillen.