When Troy Sandwith made a commitment to running, the first race he picked to compete in was the 2011 Fredericton Marathon.
Was he crazy?
As it turns out, it was just part of a perfect lifestyle choice that continues to pay dividends for the Fredericton native.
And just to cast any doubts about his initial interest levels, he ran so well that May morning in 2011, he not only finished second in his age category but also qualified for the Boston Marathon with a stunning debut time of 3:14.32.
“I looked up a training schedule for a marathon and started to follow it,” he said. “I was not intending on running a marathon at that point, I was just seeing where I could take it. I had so much fun watching my progress and how I would improve, I decided to run that Fredericton Marathon.“
Until earlier this month, that was Sandwith’s only marathon experience, but one that remained prominently in his mind as he progressed through his professional career as a financial analyst with NB Power and also his various forms of recreation.
His final time that day had qualified him for Boston but due to demands for entry into that race, the actual standard for qualifying was less than a minute under his recorded clocking.
So with no formal followup event to train for, he admits he scaled back his running and noticed its impact on his weight and his fitness levels a year or so later.
That’s when his partner, Rebecca Freeze, suggested he join her cousin’s team that was heading to the Cape Breton Relay one spring – a challenge he accepted and enjoyed.
It became a regular event for the couple but it was not until 2015 that Sandwith ultimately rekindled his long-distance training schedule to those earlier 2011 levels.
Once 200 pounds, he found himself on a rollercoaster of weight loss and weight gain, a ride he wanted to end.
“When I stopped running, I saw my weight creeping back up again,” he said. “I changed my diet, got into a healthier diet and just made sure I was always active.”
Which leads us to earlier this month, when he tackled the Prince Edward Island Marathon, where he ran 3:38:37 and took another step in the progress toward his dream Boston berth.
Just as important, however, was the fact it was another part of a journey he’s now put in place, one with diligent long-term and short-term planning, complete with goals beyond the current training regimen.
“The reason I keep setting the goals is basically to be an example to others,” he said. “I was about 50 pounds heavier than I am now when I started. I want to be healthy, active and to show others it is not hard to do.
“You just put on your sneakers and get out the door. Everyone should be doing something they enjoy to stay in shape. Running is just my thing.”
As a youngster, Sandwith was not running at all, other than school events that were basically one-off races. He did well but was more interested in hockey and baseball. Then his attention turned to skiing and ultimately backpacking as an adult. Now 43, he recalls there were no other runners in his family and, generally, he was not interested in the sport until 2010, when as part of a program at his gym, running drills were incorporated into a fitness regime.
“I really enjoyed it, so I decided to see where I could go with it,” he said.
“Once I got into it, I followed it through and finished a marathon. However, I made the mistake of not setting any follow-up goals, so I slowly got out of it and got out of shape.”
Now that’s he is back, he is extremely active.
This year, he ran the 10 km in the Fredericton Scotiabank Marathon, winning his age group and earning a personal best. He ran two legs of the Cabot Trail Relay, competed in the Confederation Bridge half marathon, raced the Bike for Breath Gran Fondo 2017 in September (160 km cycle) took part in the Rum Runners Relay in Nova Scotia last month and then ran the P.E.I. Marathon.
“I was hoping to qualify for Boston,” he said. “I fell short but I am still hoping to get that in Fredericton in the spring.”
As for his progress, he’s delighted by what he has been able to accomplish and how the sport has helped him.
“I went from not running at all to do doing so well,” he says. “I was just amazed at how well you can do if you put your mind to it. I enjoy running, it keeps me in shape, so just staying healthy is what drives me to continue to do it.”
Kevin Barrett’s column appears every other Saturday. If you have a suggestion for a feature story, email him at email@example.com or visit barrettkevin.wordpress.com