Trevor Hofbauer: Life lessons from the pursuit of greatness in running

In his first national race as a SAIT Trojan, Trevor Hofbauer finished just 75th in a field of 112 runners. He had started running to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but the unfavourable result inflamed his competitive spirit. Today the 26-year-old has achieved elite status in Canadian half marathon and marathon running and IMPACT magazine touts him as “Canada’s Next Great Marathoner.”

Now in pursuit of competing at the 2020 Olympics — not to mention becoming the world’s fastest marathon runner — Hofbauer is pushing beyond his own expectations in a sport where races are won or lost by fractions of a second.

LINK asks what he’s learned from four of his career-making races.

Trevor Hofbauer smiling
Photo courtesy of Dave Holland/Run Calgary: Hofbauer's joyous smile after winning the men's division of the Centaur Subaru 21.1K National Championships at the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon in May 2018. 

Success means nothing if you don’t have anyone to celebrate with.

“I needed to finish the 2013 Victoria Half Marathon in one hour and 10 minutes to gain elite status, and I finished one hour and nine minutes. Only six months earlier my personal best had been one hour and 13 minutes, so that four-minute jump was pretty big. But having my aunt and uncle at the race, doing my best in front of them and hugging them at the end made that moment for me. Family is number one and I’ve realized I don’t want to do any of this without them by my side.”

Don’t limit yourself.

“When I started taking running seriously, it was pure ambition and I didn’t think about how realistic it could be to progress to the elite level. But I stuck with it. The 2015 GORE-TEX® Philadelphia Half Marathon was my go-for-it moment and I hit that level by finishing in one hour and four minutes — still my personal best. That was the time I was looking for to validate this is worth chasing.”

Money comes and goes, but memories stay forever.

“I celebrated with fans before crossing the finish line at the 2017 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and it gained a lot of attention, both good and bad. I would have won more money if I had crossed the finish line a few seconds faster, but that hadn’t even crossed my mind. At first I thought, ‘Oh darn, that sucks!’ But now that moment of celebration means more to me than a bonus. There was a lot of emotion around that race. It happened at a time in my life that was really tough mentally. My dad had flown out for the race and was on the track — he has been my biggest fan since I was a kid. My response was a celebration for all the people who have been supporting me along the way.”

You have to sacrifice to chase a big dream, but it’s always worth it.

“I didn’t put down a very fast time, but in the 2018 Centaur Subaru 21.1K National Championship race, the objective is to win — the best time is one second better than the second-place individual. That’s what it came down to and it worked out for me. Race day moments make the sacrifices between them worthwhile — there are days you don’t want to run, but you do it anyway. When the races come around, that’s when things come together and you know it’s worth it.”

Keep going. The finish line is in sight.

Update: July 19, 2021

In October 2019, Hofbauer raced in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. He was the first Canadian to complete the race and beat his personal best by more than seven minutes, earning him a berth with Team Canada at the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

Hofbauer will be representing Canada in the Men's Marathon on Saturday, Aug. 7 at 4 pm (MDT). Be sure to tune in and help cheer him on through the finish line!