Former Pistons Run In Manitoba Marathon

Content Provided By: Dave Anthony – Voice of the Pistons



Several former Pistons could be seen running in the most recent Manitoba Marathon, two of which were former captain Tyson McConnell and hard-hitting defender Caydin Cleland.

“After my hockey season ended last spring, I wanted to train in a different way,” McConnell said. “I know I probably won’t be playing hockey again in the fall and I’ve always enjoyed running so I thought I’d give it a shot. I was looking for a different challenge from training for hockey like I’ve been so used to.”

The now 26-year-old who suited up for 228 regular season games for Steinbach plus 48 playoff games say’s he used the mental strength he gained from hockey to help him through the tough grind of training and doing a marathon run. “When you think about hockey, you think about the season and the schedule, and it can be a grind. That’s the way I approached the marathon, I just wanted to keep going mile after mile, getting to the next checkpoint, the next checkpoint. As a hockey player, you kind of have that same mindset, you want to get to the next shift, the next period, the next game. I just tried to stay focused on the next little part of the run and it seemed to work out okay for me.”

McConnell clocked in at 4 hours and 35 minutes. “My main goal was to finish. It was the first race I’ve done. I finished middle of the pack overall, but my main goal was to finish it for myself without stopping, so I’m very happy with that.”

For Cleland, he says running the marathon has always been a thought. “It’s been a goal in the back of my head for a while” he explains. “It’s kind of a bucket list thing.”

Training for a long time, Cleland says he set a high goal for himself. “I did 16-week prep and went in with the goal of doing it in sub four hours. I finished 3 hours 49 minutes and 58 seconds. I beat my goal and I’m super pumped about it.”

Having played 107 regular season games and adding 16 more in the playoffs, Cleland says his hockey background helped set him up for success. “I think on the physical side of things, having an athletic background helped but it’s a mental grind. Hockey played a huge role. When your legs are burning and you’re stuck in your zone, it’s times like those that factor into race day” the 24-year-old says with a laugh. “Your legs are burning but you’ve still got 5 miles left and you’ve got to grunt it through. You know you can make it but it’s for sure a mental grind.”

There was more to the race than just setting a goal time and breaking it for Cleland. He ran with a purpose and a heavy heart.

“I lost my dad about a year and a half ago to a drug overdose. Substance abuse is something he struggled with throughout his life. His brother, my uncle, also passed away from a drug overdose 4 years ago. So, coming into the marathon on Father’s Day, I thought I’d try and make the most of it, doing a fundraiser with it going to a cause that means a lot. It was super significant for me, and I was very happy to take something that affected me and try and do something about it personally.”

Cleland says he raised more than he expected. “I raised $7,000. I was very pumped. The goal was $5000 and to surpass that, I was super happy.”

Both Cleland and McConnell say future marathons are in their futures.

Another former Piston Julien Koga finished 13th overall. Koga suited up from 2014-17.

Connor Lockheart who spent the 2013-14 season in Pistons blue also took part in the marathon.