Mike Sandrock: McCandless eyes Bolder Boulder, 2020 Olympic marathon trials with ‘appetite for hard work‘

McCandless Bolder Boulder Tips

• Don‘t fret; start preparing now. You still have time.

• Register as soon as possible, to have that Memorial Day commitment to race.

• Establish a routine; consistency is key.

• Be confident.

• Write down your Bolder Boulder goal, so that you see it every day.

Jogging over to meet friends for the start of the 2018 Bolder Boulder, I paused on Pine Street to watch the leaders come by. Except last year, it was “leader,” as we saw when Tyler McCandless came storming off the 13th Street hill and made the turn onto Spruce.

“Looking good, Tyler,” I yelled. McCandless had his game face on and did not acknowledge the cheers. He was concentrating so much it is doubtful he heard me. One of the top local road racers for the past several years, McCandless wanted to run on Team USA in the International Team Challenge, which was competing for a chunk of a $161,300 prize purse. Since 1979, the race has awarded nearly $3.5 million in prize money.

McCandless was not part of the pro team, which, he admits, was motivation to win the citizens race; not only to win, but to dominate, breaking away from what is typically a competitive field early on and clicking off sub-5-minute miles on his way to clocking 30 minutes, 54 seconds for the 6.2 miles, the fastest of the six Bolders he has raced.

McCandless, 32, is a racer. Just as dogs can look and act like their owners, so do runners sometimes end up emulating their coaches. Such is the case for McCandless, coached by former great Steve Jones, head of the Boulder Harriers. “Jonesy” was a racer par excellence, who, when I interviewed him for my first book and asked about his world record race and all the big names he beat as a relative unknown, said simply, “Competition is my clock.”

Such is McCandless. He has a ph.D. from Penn State and is a machine learning scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He trains at a world-class level, up to 115 miles a week, focused on the Feb. 29, 2020, Olympic trials marathon in Atlanta. Ga. Last Thursday, McCandless was part of an InMotion panel discussion of Olympic Trials qualifiers that included fellow Boulder Harriers teammate Deanna Ardrey, Nell Rojas and Jason Simpson.

“I did want to run the Bolder Boulder pro race last year, but was unfortunately not selected for the team,” McCandless explained. “I felt that I needed to prove what I was capable of in shorter races. My motivation for winning the Bolder Boulder was really high.”

Elite athlete coordinator Don Janicki made sure McCandless was part of Team USA this year, and McCandless has planned his spring racing season to be as ready as possible come Memorial Day. After six years with Jones, McCandless has a deep aerobic base, which he will put to use Sunday when he races the Los Angeles marathon. Then comes eight weeks of sharpening before the Bolder Boulder, which will include one- and two-minute efforts as well as intervals of 200, 300 and 400 meters on the track. As with any Jonesy workout, these are “eyeballs out,” or those requiring maximum physical exertion.

The Harriers do not have a team social media page, even though they have two other Olympic Trials qualifiers in Ian Butler and Kurt Roeser. They are all business. Serious. All work full-time, showing up ready to start the workout right at 7 a.m. That means McCandless is up at 4:55 a.m. daily.

“We are still pursuing the sport at the highest level,” McCandless said. “It is Jonesy believing in us. That was him; he broke the world record when he was still working full-time for the RAF (Royal Air Force). He said he had ‘a strong appetite for hard work‘.”

Like coach, like runners. “We set goals; we give our best each workout, and we build each other up,” McCandless said. “It is a very special thing that I am thankful to be a part of.”

One other key to McCandless‘ running success, in addition to inculcating the Jonesy “eyeballs out” mentality, is the gratitude he feels for his wife, Kristin, who is expecting their first child in July. “I am beyond fortunate to have her. Kristin is incredibly supportive and encouraging. It is easier to run when you are happy and inspired.”

Receive News & Ratings Via Email - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.