Two years ago, Gabe Ghiglione was devastated when he got the news that he didn’t make the Marauders cross country team.
After time trial, Ghiglione waited all night to find out if he made the team through an email that the coaches sent out to all of the athletes that tried out.
Around midnight, after hours of anticipation, he received an email from head coach Rory Sneyd letting him know that he would not be on the roster.
“I was crushed,” said Ghiglione. “I was thinking of quitting running all together.”
But with track try outs just a couple of weeks after the cross country time trial, Ghiglione decided to give running one last shot to test his limits and see what he was capable of achieving.
“I ran a 1500 metre by myself, and it sucked. It was absolutely horrible, because the standard was 4:15, and I ran a 4:16,” said Ghiglione.
After the tryout, Ghiglione went up and talked to track head coach Paula Schnurr, who was hesitant about letting him on the team.
“She said ‘we’ll see, we’ll send you an email tonight,’ and I was thinking they better not say no this time,” said Ghiglione.
Ghiglione waited by his computer, similar to how he did just two weeks before, but unlike last time, the email told him that he was on the team.
Fast forward to two years later, and Ghiglione is not only one of the fastest runners on the team, but he is one of the fastest runners in the entire country.
His success in the sport is due to his dedication to running that has stayed consistent since he has arrived to McMaster.
His dedication to his sport is also seen in some of the other activities he is involved in with the school – like the fraternity on campus, Phi Delta Theta, and his involvement as President of the ALS society.
“I’m the philanthropy chairman at Phi Delta Theta, so I’m in charge of all of the philanthropy events and volunteering events, and different things that we do on and off campus,” said Ghiglione.
“I joined the fraternity because I saw the state that the organization was in before I joined, and I took it and I’ve been building it up, and I really like how its represented on campus,” said Ghiglione.
“We’re known as the gentlemen on campus, so that’s pretty cool.”
On top of being a member of Phi Delta Theta, Ghiglione is also President of the ALS society here at McMaster, he teaches kayaking lessons with the outdoor club, and he has also been an instructor of the McMaster White Water rafting club.
His involvement with several activities around the school separates him from the majority of the runners on the team and throughout the country, who usually just stick to school and training, because their time is extremely limited.
“It’s not like they’re missing out on their university experience, I’m just having a different one than them,” said Ghiglione.
There are other athletes on the cross country team who also happened to be very involved with the school, including Maddy McDonald, Paul Kolb, Chelsea Mackinnon, and Luke Charbonneau.
Overall, the cross country team is easily one of the most involved varsity teams at McMaster.
When it comes to training, however, the majority of runners take it very seriously, and that is where Ghiglione differs from the rest of the pack.
“All of last summer I worked as a rickshaw driver in downtown Toronto, and I called that training, so in that sense I have alternative ways of training compared to the rest of the team,” said Ghiglione.
“I’d be running around the track last year and Coach Schnurr would be yelling, ‘run you crazy rickshaw driver,’ that was her joke.”
This past summer, Ghiglione was also a leader in MOOSE, which is a week-long portage canoeing trip in Algonquin Park for first-year students with the outdoor club.
During that week, Ghiglione and teammate Paul Kolb had to wake up at five in the morning in order to run for 80 minutes, before an entire day of canoeing and portaging.
“We had one run where we were bush-whacking the entire way, because we were in the interior of Algonquin. And when Paul and I are on a run, we’re both really distracted trainers, so we’d just go take a bizarre off-trail, or just stop to jump off a cliff or something, and we’d get lost usually,” said Ghiglione.
His summer training methods would shock any serious runner who would have a very different definition of what constitutes as training.
“In this one run–that we counted as a run–our group was doing a 1.6k portage, so Paul and I ran up with the canoes on our backs, dropped them off, then ran back, helped the rest of the crew and continued packing, and we just ran back and forth with the packs, and we were like, ah, that counts as a run, right?”
Aside from Ghiglione’s differences in training, he also prides himself on getting to know as many people as he possibly can – which is a concept that can be difficult when being a part of a varsity team that generally does everything together.
“A lot of runners tend to stick with their one group, but I really like expanding my social circles and having a lot of friends on campus,” said Ghiglione.
Despite Ghiglione’s busy lifestyle, the social aspect in university is extremely important to him, and he believes it as being something that is essential.
“I think it’s important to chill sometimes, and not constantly be thinking about running. Having fun is important for the human brain, you need to do it,” said Ghiglione.
Ghiglione’s involvement in several social circles around campus has made him a very popular person with a popular nick name – “Gabe the babe,” which has stuck with him throughout high school, has followed him in university, and is now rippling throughout the CIS, as seen in the blog “Putdowns & Prognostications,” which includes CIS cross country predictions.
Although Ghiglione is laid back in many ways, when it comes to the competition and the future of his running career, he has very serious goals.
“My goal for this year is to hopefully be an all-Canadian at CIS. Top 14 would be All-Canadian, but if I came top 20, I’d be very happy with that too.”
With Ghiglione’s dedication and drive, finishing within the top 14 overall is a very reachable goal.
In order for him to do this, he has made some big decisions in the past year, and has made a conscious effort to make running his main focus.
“I decided to work in Hamilton this summer, because I wanted to train with the team, and that was a big decision for me, because two summers ago I worked in the Ottawa River as a white water rafting instructor, and there was no way for me to get training done there,” said Ghiglione.
Ghiglione worked at Altitude, the climbing tower on campus, and he worked as a wilderness instructor at a summer camp in the Hamilton area as well.
A job like that in the Hamilton area has allowed the coaches to remain in close contact with him and for him to get a solid summer of training in before the cross country season.
As for his other interests – which includes eventually returning to his summer job as a white water rafting instructor – Ghiglione knows that the option will be there for him after his running career is over.
“I can just do all of that stuff later.”
“Right now, if I’m still doing this running thing, I might as well do it well.”