Now healthy, Canadian Brandon McBride sets running priorities for 2023, brightens holidays for others
Fully healed from a broken left foot, Brandon McBride will work to improve his mental strength on the track in 2023, with an eye on qualifying for a fourth consecutive World Athletics Championships next summer in Budapest.
The Canadian middle-distance runner will take a more experienced, strategic and smarter approach to races after falling hard to the track while jostling for position in his 800-metre heat on July 20 at the world championships in Eugene, Ore.
McBride, 28, and Navasky Anderson of Jamaica exchanged shoves near the turn off the backstretch. About 200 metres into the race, McBride said he was bumped during the cut-in and lost control but stayed on his feet before suddenly colliding with others.
The Windsor, Ont., native fell nearly five seconds off the pace and finished eighth, and last, in one minute 57.43 seconds.
“You could say it was a freak accident [but] I take full responsibility,” McBride, told CBC Sports over the phone from Victoria. “It could have been avoided if I had raced smarter. I need to approach races as a six-foot-five speed/power athlete [and] have to know I can’t fit in certain spaces [between opposing runners].”
WATCH | McBride falls in world 800-metre heat in Oregon:
Going forward, McBride suggested he would sit at the back of the pack for the “first lap or so” and work his way up from 400 metres.
“That’s something I [did] last year,” said the two-time Olympian, “but maybe it’s something I didn’t have the confidence to do during world championships.”
McBride encountered a similar situation in the first round at the 2019 worlds in Doha, Qatar, where he allowed Peter Bol of Australia to cut him off and almost tripped 150 to 200 metres from the start. At the time, McBride recalled, he had the utmost confidence in his endurance and speed. He recovered to win the heat while a tired Bol faded to fifth.
“In the future, I would love to have the confidence in myself to allow the individual to go ahead instead of jostling,” he said. “You have to protect your space but remember the goal of the race is to finish.”
In Eugene, McBride broke the fifth metatarsal, the long bone on the outside of the foot that connects to the small toe. The four-time Canadian champion worked with physiotherapist Mary Brannigan in Windsor during his rehabilitation and Dr. Brian Murer, a chiropractic specialist based in Indiana, who solved overall movement issues the runner was experiencing.
Four weeks into recovery, McBride could walk without issue and returned to his regular training program at the beginning of October.
“Rehab was straightforward, strengthening the muscles and tendons near the bone,” said McBride, who ran a Canadian-record time of 1:43.20 in 2018. “[The broken bone] was the most painful experience I’ve ever had. I couldn’t walk for the first 72 hours and it hurt when I was at rest and when I [eventually] moved around on crutches.”
McBride moved to Victoria in late November to join coach Mark Rowland, with whom he has worked since November 2021 when he joined Oregon Track Club Elite in Eugene. Five months ago, Rowland accepted a job to coach endurance athletes out of Athletics Canada’s West Hub in the B.C. capital. McBride and three others also relocated and live together in a cottage.
These days, McBride runs a combined 21 kilometres across morning and evening workouts and over the past month has experienced his best period of November/December training since turning professional in June 2016.
“Physically, we’re [pushing] him a little harder [than in early 2022] and he seems to be responding,” Rowland told CBC Sports. “We haven’t done the anaerobic speed [workouts] or speed testing because I don’t think we’ve done enough conditioning work to put his body in that position. We’ll do that probably in January.”
I believe every child has greatness within them. They just need an individual or situation to bring out that greatness.— Canadian professional runner Brandon McBride
During his downtime, McBride has kept busy with his not-for-profit group. McBride Youth United Association has partnered with several organizations and this week will help 50 families in need ahead of the holiday season.
Care packages, which will be distributed in Windsor through Friday, include cognitive toys, sensory toys, board games, action figures, building blocks, hygiene products, gift cards and food cards.
McBride and the six-member MYUA — which includes his girlfriend, Yesmina Captan — has partnered with the Border City Athletics Club, Border City Boxing Club, Windsor United Basketball Training Facility, Windsor Region Hospital and Eastern Flavours Restaurant and Banquet Hall.
“It means the world to see the direct impact you’re making with these kids and their families,” said McBride, who has a master’s degree in business from Wayne State University in Detroit. “I want to do my best to help the youth of Windsor and their development. It ties in with our mentorship and tutoring services we’re going to be offering in 2023.
“I believe every child has greatness within them. They just need an individual or situation to bring out that greatness.”
Early in 2020, McBride and Captan purchased grocery cards from FreshCo in Windsor and delivered them to eight families in need during the coronavirus pandemic. Later in the year, McBride delivered over 100 winter coats for children connected to nine organizations.
A year ago, McBride partnered with businesses, spending “a few thousand dollars” to give food and gift cards to sport and youth organizations.
McBride noted the desire to give and help others began with his upbringing and the values his parents, Marquita and Bernard, instilled in their family.
“They always made sure [my brother and I] knew, not necessarily how much things cost,” he said, “but how lucky and fortunate we were to have access to quality education and resources in order to achieve.”
McBride believes today’s youth are more informed than 20 years ago because they have access to so much information, with the majority owning phones and laptop computers.
“If they need to know something, they can Google it. But there’s also a downside that technology does a lot of thinking for us,” said McBride, who will begin working remotely in January as an analyst for Deloitte, a management consulting company in Toronto. “We’re seeing a lot of critical thinking and problem-solving skills fall by the wayside.
“That’s why it’s important for me to give developmental toys that will help spark some of those skills. If we can help guide [the youth] into [career] fields and along their journey, I believe all children can achieve something.”
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
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