Jamie Gray knows when to make concessions. That’s what makes him a better runner.
After winning the Bucks County Roadrunners Club’s Winter Series overall titles in 2018-19 and 2019-20, he found himself in the runner-up spot last year.
The guy who finished ahead of him was 24-year-old Alex Carideo, the outstanding runner who made a name for himself with a great career at The College of New Jersey.
Gray, who just turned 30, could have been a little unnerved by having a “younger” runner take over the No. 1 spot last winter.
But Gray, a Langhorne native, decided to take the high road and actually approached Carideo about training tips and so forth. Instead of a rivalry, this has become more of an association.
“He kicks my butt pretty much up and down the block,” said Gray with a laugh. “He’s really, really good. I guess that happens to someone like me when you get older.”
Gray can still post some impressive times on the challenging hills of Tyler State Park. If he can pick up a few seconds here or there, then that’s all the better.
“I’m no longer a ‘young guy’ anymore, I just turned 30 and it’s a little bit downhill now,” Gray offered. “I would say Alex is a smarter runner than me. He’s obviously more skilled and faster.
“It’s something I can definitely work off of. I’ve seen him at a bunch of races. I ran against him at Broad Street this year. He beat me (finishing in 52:55 to Gray’s 55:01) but afterward he at least gave me some feedback. Part of that is because I’m trying to go for a Berlin Marathon qualifying time next year and Alex has picked up his coaching a lot more.”
Right now Carideo is mentoring a group of runners from BCRR which does track workouts at Council Rock South High School from about April to October.
“I’m eager to pick someone’s brain like his just so I can hopefully get to that 2:45 (Berlin) qualifying mark,” Gray said. “I ran Philly (Marathon) a couple weeks ago and I had around 2:40 in my sight until I crashed and burned at the end. I did a 2:47.
“It’s never a bad thing to have someone like Alex to give you feedback on what you can work on and what you can do to better your goals. He’s a smart enough guy to kind of lend me his expertise, even though he’s younger than me.”
The Winter Series officially kicks off this Sunday with the first of 11 races at various distances. The schedule runs through late February. To register, visit http://www.bcrrclub.com.
“I know a bunch of guys throughout the club, but to have someone my age who is hitting the qualifying time for races frequently ... I didn’t run in college (he attended Temple University),” Gray said. “So to be able to talk with him definitely adds a little more different exposure to the thing, I think it’s fantastic.”
Gray currently resides in the Philadelphia section of Fishtown and said on a good day he can make it to Tyler in about 25 minutes. Then, after races, he heads over to his parents’ house for a welcome visit.
He recently got married (Alyssa) and that’s helped stabilize his life. He continues a career at Graphic Packaging International. Chances are you’ve consumed something from one of their containers.
Since the last time we spoke, Gray has really made some improvements in his long-distance times. He recently ran the Philadelphia Distance Run (half-marathon) in 1:14 and his Broad Street clocking was cause for more optimism.
“I definitely put in more mileage,” he said. “I’m pushing close to 3,000 miles this year. And the Winter Series is very productive. It gives me something to go out there for every weekend. I’m trying to get in as many long-run weekends where I’m getting above that 17-mile, 18-mile mark. Being able to run in Tyler for most of those miles can only be a good thing for courses like Boston in the spring.”
Gray has run Boston twice and will be running his third next spring. His best time in Beantown is 2:48.
His 1:14 should project to something under 2:40. Now it’s just a matter of execution.
“That’s the goal hopefully for Chicago next fall,” he said. “Just being able to run more miles, run with a couple people down here in Philly is good. It’s the incentive for doing 8 to 10 miles instead of 3 or 4 on a cold day.”
Tyler remains one of his favorite places to train and compete.
“To be able to go into such a challenging park is really nice to have,” he said. “And with some good competition. It keeps you motivated. That’s the benefit I’ve found from doing the Winter Series every year.”
– 12K o’Christmas, 9 a.m., Tyler State Park, Richboro. Contact www.runsignup.com.
– BCRR Winter Series Covered Bridge 5K, 9 a.m., Tyler State Park, Newtown. Contact www.bcrrclub.com.