at the races “I’m excited and we still have more to go.” Charles Philibert-Thiboutot after...

“I’m excited and we still have more to go.” Charles Philibert-Thiboutot after hitting the Olympic Standard, twice.


Coming off a monumental month where twice Charles Philibert-Thiboutot has run under the Olympic Standard in the 1,500meters, the 32-year-old pride of Quebec City seems to have the universe bending to his commands. But the path to 2024 Paris for the Canadian 5K record holder hasn’t been easy. After suffering injuries and changing sponsors, CPT has struggled to find his form, which makes his current success that much sweeter. “I’m one of the old dudes now,” he told iRun, after his Diamond League run. We checked in with the New Balance athlete, one of Canada’s greatest middle distance athletes of all-time.

iRun: Unbelievable month you’re having. Two-times hitting the Olympic Standard. How do you feel? 

Charles Philibert-Thiboutot: Tired.

iRun: That’s fair. 

CPT: In June, I had races five weeks in a row and traveling from Quebec to Europe to Vancouver back to Europe, and then I was going to stop racing to train, but when I got the last minute call to run the Diamond League in Poland—can’t say no to that, but it was another big nine-hour trip. 

iRun: That’s cool, though. That you’re able to hit the Olympic Standard at a moment’s notice after an unexpected nine-hour trip.

CPT: I would’ve liked to have competed more and I didn’t sleep the nights leading up to the race, but I am happy and it’s the result we wanted. A big part of it is what you’re saying: the mental toughness of being ready and willing to compete. 

iRun: And now, with the pressure off—it’s still possible for three athletes to dethrone you, but unlikely, and it’s never happened before—what does that mean for your training? 

CPT: It’s a huge difference. I ran around the world five weeks in a row to get the Olympic standard and had to go with the flow, but now I can set my plan in advance and it becomes easier. There’s less pressure for sure. 

iRun: Well, don’t go getting carried away. We don’t want to read reports of you binge eating McDonalds. 

CPT: I don’t think that will be the case and in my career, the opposite has been more likely. I race better without pressure and the training is easier and staying healthier is easier, because we’re able to exert more control. Having the standard will push me to run as fast as ever, it’s funny how things work out. I’m excited and we still have more races to go.

iRun: Those races, of course, include the National Championships later this month in Langley and the August World Championships in Budapest. Are you still hungry?     

CPT: You either have it or you don’t. The greatest runners are those that can perform good even under hard conditions and part of me feels disappointed in my last two runs. In my best capacity I can compete at 3:30 or 3:31 [ed note: the Olympic standard is 3:33:50]. With these races, I didn’t blow up and didn’t kill myself mentally, but I also didn’t have much kick with 300 metres to go. I felt flat. I’m not giving myself excuses, but I am saying that I’m definitely still hungry to compete.  

iRun: So what’s the immediate plan? 

CPT: I want to get to the Worlds rested—above and beyond fit, fitter than I am right now. So we’ll have a few key training sessions, Nationals in two weeks, and keep training. I can’t take a break from the training. I want to get back in my routine. 

iRun: You said that you’re one of the old dudes now. What have you learned since the 2016 Olympics or even in the twenty-one years you’ve been battling on the track? 

CPT: Not to distract myself and make things confusing, to eat well, and make sure I sleep. Eight or nine hours of sleep every night is important and I just feel really good and confident. I feel energized again.

iRun: Now, you’re not totally locked into the 2024 Olympics, but obviously you’re super close. What do you think of the field? 

CPT: In the history of the Canadian 1,500 metres, there’s never been more than three to qualify for the Olympics, but young talent is definitely coming up. I’m certainly not going to wish for my competitors to get injured or not run fast—I want them to do well—but I’m going to keep training hard. I’m definitely looking forward to where we take off from here.