Highlights from the Rio Olympic Games


After Rio I took some time to relax, reflect, travel with family, and get some distance from the Games. The Olympics, to put it simply, were amazing. After two decades in the sport, after enduring the many highs, lows, and years of injury and disappointment I had finally achieved my dream – it was and it still is all a bit surreal.

However, my Olympic experience was not all positive. For me, making the Olympic team was bittersweet. Many of you will know at least some part of the story about my wife, Rachel Cliff, and how she met the qualifying standard for the women’s 5,000m only to be left off the team. This obviously had a huge impact on us both. So while I was supposed to be relishing in what was meant to be the highpoint of my career, I was being torn apart by what had happened to her. And, while she handled the disappointment with class and courage it was a very challenging period for us both (to put it mildly). Once the Games began we were able to put her personal matters aside and she flew to Rio to support me and the entire Canadian team. (I fully plan on returning the favour by being in Tokyo to cheer her on as she lives out her Olympic dream).


My race in Rio was challenging from a few perspectives. For my whole career I had always had one goal – to represent Canada at the Olympic Games. To be honest there had never been much thought put into what I would do once/if I got there. Fortunately, I had previously competed in a World Championships and Commonwealth Games so I was familiar with competing on that level, but I still found it very challenging to identify concrete goals.

Of course every athlete competing wants to win a medal but, the rational side of me knew that wasn’t likely in the cards. I also really wanted to make the finals, and knew that if everything aligned just right it was possible; however, I came into the games ranked 32nd of 45 and only the top 15 make the finals – it was a long shot. I was also in the best shape of my career and knew I was ready to pop a fast one, but running in qualifying rounds, early in the morning, didn’t necessarily mean there would be an opportunity to run a fast time.

Ultimately I came to the conclusion that success for me was going to be defined by my effort. I wanted to stand on that start line healthy and both physically and mentally prepared, and then once the gun went off, to give it 100%. If I did that, there was nothing more I could ask of myself.

In the end I feel as if I did just that and with one lap to go I was still within striking distance of the best in the world. While I ultimately failed to make the finals, or run a PB, I knew I had given it my all; not just that day, but throughout my whole career. I knew right then, that that would be my final race. I took a few moments to look around the stadium. There I was standing in the Olympic stadium wearing the colours of my country. My family and friends were there to support me, and so many people back home had got up early to cheer me on – it truly was a dream come true.


Highlight of the Games

My race being the obvious highlight, there was a few other defining moments that stand out to me and continue to send shivers down my spine. One of them I would like to share with you. As the track and field team didn’t arrive into the village until the 2nd week of the Games we missed the opening ceremonies – as a result, one of the highlights for me was the closing ceremonies. Walking into the Olympic Stadium behind the Canadian Flag with all your Canadian teammates knowing that the entire nation at home was watching and cheering was exhilarating and an experience I’ll never forget.


What Do the Olympics Mean to Me

Making the Olympics will, for obvious reasons, come to define me and my achievements as an athlete, but for me it has always been about the journey, not the end result. The Olympics were never a certainty and I wouldn’t have viewed my career as unsuccessful had I not made the team. Having taken some time to reflect on the past 20 years, it’s the friends I’ve made, the places I have visited, and all the great moments along the way. That in my mind is what will define my athletics career.



Originally Published on the Powered By Chocolate Milk Blog


The Rio Olympics are less than a year away. Like a black hole, the Olympic Games seem to have a gravitational force that sucks everything towards it and the closer you get to it the quicker time seems to move. As the Games draw closer, expectations increase, the spotlight intensifies, and the pressure builds. For some this is the pressure that’s needed to achieve greatness – for others it proves too much and causes them to crack. In the next 12 months the Olympic dreams of some athletes will be fulfilled, while others left off the team will be faced with a decision – retire, having missed out on a lifelong dream or, push on for another 4 years in hopes that things will be different next time around.

Twenty years into my track-and-field career I have accomplished much of what I set out to do. I have qualified and competed for Canada on 10 National Teams – from the youth level all the way up to the Senior World Track and Field Championships. In my mind, the only thing missing from my personal resume is an Olympic Games (in 2012 I missed making the Games by a matter of seconds). Having achieved the Olympic Qualifying Standard last month in London, England, I’ve come closer to realizing my Olympic dream than ever before. The only things standing in my way are three of the top Canadian Steeplechasers ever.

Canada – A Steeplechase Powerhouse

Never before in the history of the modern Olympics has Canada sent more than one entrant in the Steeplechase, an event that takes place over 3000m, 28 barriers, and seven water jumps. Heading into 2016, Canada already has four athletes who have met the qualifying standard, me included, and there are a couple of other athletes knocking on the door. For the event, the sport, and for our country this sort of progress is nothing short of fantastic! In fact, across most event disciplines, we are seeing a renaissance of sorts here in Canada in athletics (case in point: In the 2015 World Track and Field Championships, Canada won more medals than ever before).

On the flip side, come July 1st, 2016, after the Canadian Olympic Trials comes to a close, there will be athletes left off the Olympic team. Athletes that have sacrificed much for not only the past four years but for many, much longer than that.

10 Months to Go!

Over the next 10 months, as the Games loom ever larger in the foreground, I plan to do everything in my control to be as prepared as possible on the day. One day will make all the difference. There are no “re-dos” or “next times.” Hopefully, on that one day, at the Canadian Olympic Trials in Edmonton, I can achieve this Olympic Dream I have nurtured for over two decades.

Follow My Journey

Twitter: @cwinter3

Instagram: chriswinter2

Achieving Your Goals

8:26.55…. only a mere 1.6 seconds faster than I had run previously but unquestionably the biggest 1.6 seconds of my life, taking me under the Olympic Standard of 8:28.0.

This “breakthrough” happened this past weekend in London’s Olympic Stadium – and what a venue she was! A sold out stadium (2 days in a row), 50,000 passionate track and field fans, Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, World Record Holders, Olympic Gold Medalists, & near perfect weather. If I couldn’t run fast in an atmosphere like that then, I’m not sure when I could. As I stood on the start line alongside my friend and teammate Taylor Milne, we both knew that opportunities like this are rare and this day was a day meant for special performances. I didn’t have to think much. I just needed to get on the pace, relax and go with it. As the race progressed I barely paid attention to the splits, I knew I was moving well. With 1km to go I could still feel the lead pack in front of me. With 2 laps to go I saw 6:12 on the clock and knew I needed at the very least a 2:15 last 800m to get under the Olympic standard. I knew I could do it. Coming down the home stretch I felt the heat from the pyrotechnics blasting and as I crossed the line under the Olympic Standard a sense of peace came over me. This was a standard I have been chasing for the past 20 years, since I first joined a track club at the age of 9. It’s been a long road and I had finally done it. wow!

While I have not actually qualified for the Olympics yet, I have hit a major mark in doing so. The next step is to finish in the top 3 at the National Championships next July. No easy feat.  Right now we are seeing what the renaissance was to art, happen here in Canada in the sport of Track a field. Across all events we are seeing Canadians break records, win global medals, and raise the bar. Case in point – I am currently the 8th ranked Steeplechaser All-Time in Canadian History but, I’m still only the 4th fastest steeplechaser THIS year. I have work to do but, I am confident in my abilities and the team around me.

Thanks To My Team 

We all know that a performance is not the result of a single person’s’ actions. It takes a whole team, and I am fortunate to have one of the best. From the beginning my family has been behind me. They have always believed in me, through all the ups and downs, injuries and successes. To this day they are still my biggest supporters. My team and coach (Speed River and Dave Scott Thomas) took me on when I was fresh out of university and only an 8:42 guy at the time. For some reason they believed in me when not many else did. They took me in and I remember when DST said early on that he thought I could run well under 8:30. (I thought he was nuts, but turns out he was right.) And then their is my sponsors. New Balance, Inbox Marketer, and Chocolate Milk. These are organizations that have chosen to support me and my Olympic dream and continue to do so. Without their support it would be impossible to do what I do.  Thank You. And lastly my Fiancé and soon to be wife (that’s a word I’ll have to get used to) you have seen it all. The good days and bad, the nerves, the tears from injuries and failure, and the moments where everything comes together. Thank you for being there beside me through it all.

While no one knows what the next year and track season will bring, I hope to not let the Olympics define me as a person or my athletics career (whether I make the team or not). To do so would diminish everything else that this sport has given to me. I love this sport and I would not be the same person without it. The people and experiences it has given me have been priceless. I look forward to the challenges and experiences yet to come!



After The Dust Settles

This track season has flown by in a hurry. After running 8:29 in mid-May I was left in an unfortunate situation of being just 1 second shy of the World Championship Standard, forcing me to continue to chase the standard in hopes of hitting it prior to the Canadian Championships on July 3rd. As a result, I ended up racing 3 times in 2 weeks, each race a bit more desperate than the last.

Attempt #1

My first attempt in my chase for the standard was at the The Speed River Inferno in Guelph, Ontario. This shaped up to be a great race, with a number of entries having season’s bests better than my own and a couple of other guys in the race who were also looking for the standard. Unfortunately the weather failed to cooperate. Rainy and windy, the pack didn’t seem interested in running fast. I didn’t want to waste an opportunity so I took over the race after 800m and ran out front alone for much of the race. With a lap to go I was finally caught by the pack and a couple of guys went past me. I managed to regroup and pull together a solid last 150 to move up and take 2nd place for an 8:36.

Attempt #2

My next attempt was at the Harry Jerome Track Classic a week later in my home town of Vancouver. My coach and I felt this would be another good opportunity, as I wouldn’t need to travel and we could control many of the variables. The weather, albeit hot for Vancouver, we great and my teammate Jacob Smith flew out from Guelph to help with pacing duties. (Thanks Jacob!) Jacob had us close to standard pace through 4 laps when pulled off leaving me to take on the pace myself. I still felt really good at thsis point and continued to push. With about 600 to go I began fading and Taylor Milne and an american went past me. I tried to fight for it but it wasn’t enough and I crossed the line in 8:32. So close!


Attempt #3

On June 14th still without the standard and with my options limited I headed down to Portland for the Portland Track Festival. I knew going in that the competition would likely be weak. Many of the Americans had already got their standard for worlds and the NCAA championships were being held that same weekend down the road in Eugene. I felt that I had no choice. If I wanted to go to Beijing in August, I had to try. Ryan Brockerville having just run the 1500m only 45 minutes earlier stepped up big time and offered to pace me. Ryan did a great job (Thanks man!) bringing me through a mile right on pace. When I took over I still felt strong. I maintained the pace and could feel the standard within my reach. With 700 meters to go I began to fade, but hoped that I had enough time in the bag. With 400 to go I realized it would take something special to hit the time and I knew my legs didn’t have it in them. I continued to push the next 300m but when I entered the homestretch for the final time I could see the clock, time was not on my side. I shut it down the last 100m and crossed the line in 8:40. Total bummer.

The Aftermath

I was tired and demoralized. Chasing standards will do that to you. And, while the window for hitting standard remained open through Nationals, Nationals was to take place in Edmonton, at 2,100ft above sea level and, without anyone else in the race also chasing standard I knew the likelihood of running under 8:28 at nationals to be highly improbable. I had to face the reality that I was likely not heading to Beijing this summer. This crushed me. My goal this year was not just to make it to Beijing, but to make the finals.

I will say that despite being left off the team this summer for Beijing, the team we are sending has got to be one of our best ever. It’s a testament to how strong of an event the steeplechase has become in Canada with 4 of the top 10 Canadians of all time being active right now and one of them (Matt Hughes) is our national record holder. This depth is great to see and it pushes us all to be even better!

With a 4th place finish at nationals I am now looking forward to heading over to Europe to get into a couple of faster races with hopes of knocking off the Olympic standard for next summer. The goal… sub 8:28!  My first race will likely be in Heusden on July 18th. I will try and keep you all posted!

2015 nationals



The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Man does time fly! It’s an often overused cliche but with 2 races already under the belt the season is moving along in a hurry. There’s been some good things, some bad, and some downright ugly! Here’s a quick update:

The Bad

After a month at altitude I, along with what seemed to be half the population of Flagstaff, headed to Payton Jordan for my season opener. We travelled most of Thursday which gave us two nights at sea level to recover and prep for the race. I was tired coming down from a hard 4 weeks at altitude but hoped that those couple of days at sea level would do the trick and that I’d feel good and rested come race time. When the gun went off I didn’t feel bad, but just flat. The race went out at a comfortable pace and my legs felt good. I made a few tactical errors which left me sitting at the back of a pack of 10+ guys just doing everything I could to spot the barriers and stay on my feet. With about 1km to go I missed the break and ended up running 8:35. Not a terrible time but not what I had come to do and nowhere near what I knew I was capable of. I kicked the dirt for a few hours, upset that I squandered a great opportunity to hit a fast time. After I finally decided to wrap up the pity party I changed my focus and got excited about the 10 days ahead leading into my next race at Oxy (AKA the Hoka One One Middle Distance Classic). After a couple of more days at sea-level it appeared that Altitude had done its trick. I felt great and I had a couple of the best workouts of my life! As a result, I was feeling much more confident and I couldn’t wait to toe the line at Oxy.

The Good

Oxy was a much different race this year. There were less Americans running the steeple (there were plenty of Canadians!) and so we had to rely on a pacer to get the race going. Credit to this guy as he pulled us through the mile in 4:30 and set up a great last few laps with Matt Hughes and Taylor Milne trading the lead back and forth and me just hanging on for the ride. I let a little gap open up over the final 800m but I closed well (64.5 last lap) and just dipped under 8:30 for a final time of 8:29.86. While it was frustrating to miss the World Championship and Olympic Standard by just over 1 second, this is the fastest time I’ve ever run this early in the season and I feel like I’ve built some great momentum for the rest of the season.


Race Video

The Ugly

Whereas last year’s race in LA we were holed up in air-conditioned hotel rooms, trying to avoid the 100+ heat, this year I was complaining I didn’t bring an extra sweater. With cool temps and stormy skies the steeplechases, 800s and women’s 1500 lucked out and got pretty ideal conditions for racing. However, immediately after the first heat of the men’s 1500 crossed the finish line, the skies opened up unleashing 4 years worth of pent up moisture onto drought-stricken California.  There was thunder and lightning. We all hustled for shelter and the meet was delayed. After a few minutes of torrential downpour lakes were beginning to form and it was getting tough to stay dry, even under the relative protection of the tents. We moved indoors hoping that the storm would soon pass and the rest of the meet would go on. However, with every lightning strike the meet would get delayed another 45 minutes. Finally at 9:30pm the meet organisers cancelled the remainder of the meet. I don’t think many expected that – and rightfully so it was tough news to take for those who hadn’t raced yet. Most had travelled a good distance and spent money out of pocket to get to LA and didn’t get to see Disneyland, let alone race.

Storm during Hoka One One Middle Distance Classic
The Steeple Pit during Hoka One One Middle Distance Classic (PC:

Next up is the Speed River Inferno on May 31st which is shaping up to be a great race!



400’s at 7,000ft

An update from up high!

Every March and April there is a great migration of some of the world’s best athletes to Flagstaff, Arizona. Known for it’s dry, warm condition, great trails, and access to tracks at lower altitude in Sedona and Cottonwood – Flagstaff it is about ideal as an athlete could ask for.

I’ve been in Flagstaff for over a week now with the Speed River Crew as well as many other Canadian Athletes. The first week was spent getting acclimatized with shorter runs and easier workouts. But now its game on. With a little over 2 1/2 weeks until my season opener at Payton Jordan, now is the time to take some risks, explore my limits in training and hopefully come out of the camp fitter and faster than ever before.

Yesterday was one of those sessions. While it looked simple on paper – 2*200m, 5*400m – the X Factor is the 7000ft of altitude Flagstaff is sitting at. At 7,000 ft just climbing a flight of stairs will leave you breathless. 400 meters at sub 60 secs pace will leave you bent over on the side of the track for 2 minutes while you gasp for air and struggle for life. It’s exactly what we traveled up here for.

The Details:

2*200 = 28.9, 28.5 (with 75 secs recovery)

4′ rest5*400 = 60.1, 59.2, 59.2, 57.7, 57.6 with 3 mins rest

5*400 = 60.1, 59.2, 59.2, 57.7, 57.6 (with 3 mins recovery)

Alex Genest, Jeremy Rae & I rolling through 5*400m at 7,000ft

An easy 10 miler through Stanley Park

Yesterday was the first big track specific session of the year. There were hurdles, spikes, and a whole lot of lactic acid. It was great! When I woke up this morning I was tired and I was sore. My motivation was…low. Luckily I have a good friend who was willing to accompany on his bike for my 10-miler through Stanley Park. Armed with a GoPro he captured some great shots along the way. Thanks Blaise for the company!