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Tate sets provincial record in 5,000 metres

Mike Tate, shown in NCAA action with the Southern Utah Thunderbirds, is the new Nova Scotia outdoor record holder in the 5,000 metres.
Mike Tate, shown in NCAA action with the Southern Utah Thunderbirds, is the new Nova Scotia outdoor record holder in the 5,000 metres. - Corey LeBlanc

It might have started a bit early, but Mike Tate certainly knows how to celebrate his birthday.    

Just four hours before turning 22, the Heatherton native raced to a new Nova Scotia outdoor record in the 5,000 metres.    

At the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, California, March 31, the Southern Utah University Thunderbird runner finished the distance in 13:39.81, which eclipsed the provincial mark set by  fellow Antigonisher Eric Gillis.    

In 2005, at a Belgium meet, the three-time Olympian set the standard in 13:41.85.    

“It definitely means a lot,” Tate said, in a phone interview, about the athletic accomplishment.    

He noted he “knew going in” the record time he was chasing.    

“That was, definitely, in the back of my mind, trying to better that mark,” Tate said.    

“With Eric being from Antigonish, as well, and me looking up to him my whole running career and seeing him run so amazingly this past summer [in the Olympics], made it that much more special,” he added.    

The winning effort came in the first major race of Tate’s outdoor season in the competitive Big Sky Conference.    

“It was a big breakthrough – I had an awesome race,” he said.    

As for his approach heading into the meet, Tate noted he had “an A, B and C goal.”    

With the ‘C’ plan, the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional Royals product was shooting for a personal best (PB), bettering his 13:51.    

“I thought a decent run would be in the 13:45 range,” he noted of his ‘B’ goal.    

As for the ‘A,’ it centered on breaking 13:40.    

“I thought, if I had a really good run, I would be able to do that,” Tate said.    

“I was really prepared and ready to go.”    

When asked about the race, he described it as “fast.”    

“Before it started, our pacer said he was going to go through in about 66 seconds, for 400 (m), which is just about the pace that I was looking for to get into the 13:40 to 13:45 range,” he said.    

Tate added, when the gun went off, “I just slotted in right behind him.”    

“Unfortunately, he only lasted two kilometres, and I was the only one that went with him; so, for the last three kilometres, I was running on my own and, kind of, time trialed as well as I could,” he said.    

“I held it together pretty well and I just kept focussing on hitting around 66-second 400-metre splits and then, at the end, trying to pick it up and I was able to do that and get under 13:40.”   

Noting he redshirted for the conference indoor season, Tate said he was racing on his own, including a couple stops in Seattle.    

“They did not go well, at all,” Tate said of those runs in the Pacific Northwest.    

After not reaching his goal in those races – getting close to the four-minute mile barrier – he said he focussed on a   “long and hard training stint,” which spanned from mid-February until he toed the line for his record-setting effort.    

“I got my mileage up and I really started focussing on workouts a lot more and really, really dedicated myself to, hopefully, getting a better result my next time racing,” Tate said.    

In setting the provincial mark, he added, “I guess I got rewarded” for his preparation.    

With that result, Tate was named the Big Sky Conference men’s track and field athlete of the week.    

His time ranks second in Thunderbird history, trailing only Cam Levins, who claimed an NCAA championship in the 5,000m.    

For the season, the mark is the second best in the United States, behind only Jefferson Abbey of Colorado State, with a 13:37.23, who was the only collegiate racer to finish ahead of Tate at the Stanford meet.    

His time is also fourth-best in Big Sky history, with only three former Olympians having a faster finish.    

Tate was scheduled to be back on the track last weekend (results unavailable at press time) at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational in Pomona, California.    

“I would like to, hopefully, break another provincial record, if possible, in the 1,500, and run another PB,” he said.    

“I think I am in shape, right now, to do that.”    

Tate will return to the Stanford track, May 5, to compete in the 5,000m at the prestigious Payton Jordan Invitational.    

“Hopefully, I will be able to better my time and lower that provincial record,” he said.

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