The Boston Qualifier Questionnaire – Simon, Raymond and Benard

This is a cool one, and a first for the project. Three runners from the same club all qualified at the same race and sent in a joint response! For two of them, it wasn’t the first time they bq’ed, but for one of them it was.

Its also worth mentioning that Bernard Onsare is an elite runner, he WON the calgray marathon in 2013. Interesting, he also doesn’t track his miles.

Anyway, cool to see a group of runners do this together. Thanks so much for taking the time to share you story Raymond, Simon and Benard!


Raymond, Benard and Simon

Names: Raymond Ong

Simon Ong

Benard Onsare


Club Website:

Raymond’s Social Handles:

Simon’s Social Handles:

Benard’s Social Handles:


Sex: Male


Age: Raymond Ong 24 (first BQ)

Simon Ong 29

Benard Onsare 34



Raymond Ong, Simon Ong, Benard Onsare 5’8



Raymond Ong and Benard Onsare 58 kg (127 lbs)

Simon Ong 78 kg (171 lbs)


At which marathon did you get your BQ?

Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017


Tell us about the race

Toronto Waterfront Marathon is one of the fastest running courses in North America. The organizers claim it is the second fastest course in North America. Although there are “mini” hills, the course is pretty flat and fast. Race morning starts with a temperature of 14 degree Celsius, which is optimal for anyone looking to run a personal best, or to obtain a Boston-qualifying time. There is relatively no wind, unlike previous years. However, as the race progresses, the temperature can reach to as high as 21 degree Celsius, making it hard to maintain the planned marathon pace. There is an aid station at every 2 to 4 km, which helps the participants to stay hydrate and fuel.


How long had you been running when you ran your first BQ?

Raymond Ong earned his first BQ this year, and he has started running consistently for 3 years.

Simon Ong has earned his first BQ at Toronto in 2014, but this year, he managed to earn a second sub 3 marathon under his belt. Simon has been running for 6 years.

Benard is running his 23rd marathon, and has been in the elite marathon field for over 20 years.


Did you run in college or high school

Both Raymond and Simon have no running experience in high school or college. As in the article found in the Impact Magazine (, Raymond went through a struggle with alcohol and smoking, and Simon went through a weight struggle. Raymond took up running under the influence of his brother, Simon, who lost over 60 pounds from running alone. Both Raymond and Simon took up running in their early mid-20’s.

Benard ran at a very early age.


What was your approximate lifetime mileage at the time of your first BQ?

Raymond Ong’s approximate lifetime mileage before his first BQ: 4,000 km in the last 3 years of running

Simon Ong’s approximate lifetime mileage before his first BQ in 2014: 6,000 km, however for this training, he put over 2200 km for the 22 weeks of marathon training (this year)

Benard Onsare’s approximate lifetime mileage: Does not count his miles


How many did you run in the year before your first BQ?

Raymond ran 2,524 km this year before his first BQ.

Simon ran approximately 1,880 km the year before his first BQ in 2014. This year (2017), he put in 3,800 km before his BQ and sub 3.

Benard does not really keep track of his mileage.


Approximately how many races did you run in that year?

Raymond ran 5 races this year before his first BQ (‘1’ 3 km race, ‘1’ 5 km race, ‘2’ 10 km race, ‘1’ half marathon)

Simon ran 10 races this year (‘1’ 5 miles, ‘1’ 5 km race, ‘4’ 10 km race, ‘4’ half marathon)

Benard ran 6 races this year (‘4’ 10 km race, ‘2’ half marathon)


Did you follow a canned program?


Our training philosophy is to challenge the body and legs, but giving it enough time to adapt before adding a new challenge or stimulus. We believe in order to be a well-rounded runner; we must do a mix of everything (hills, speed, easy, tempo, long run). It’s like cooking chili, we cannot emphasize on only one ingredient. We must listen to our body, if our body is not ready for the next challenging workout, we either rest or do easy recoveries run. We limit to approximately 2 hard workouts a week, and the rest would be very easy conversational run.


Did you run with a club or utilize a coach?

We do not have an official club, but Benard Onsare has started the OB Athletic Club (based out of Calgary, Canada). It’s open to everyone. It is beneficial to do run as a group, because it keeps everyone honest, and accountable. Also, we are able to motivate each other, and to give each other feedback.


Did cross training play a roll? If so, how?

Both Raymond and Simon do weight training as their cross training. It improves speed, but also prevents running injuries down the road. However, to be good in running, we believe we have to run a lot, as we get good at what we practice often (Rule of Specificity).


Did speed work play a role? If so, how?

Most of our speed work is from doing hill work. When we are able to run fast uphill, then running fast on flat ground would seem much easier. Also, it teaches the body to run with better form, and it builds strength to handle the distance of a marathon. We often say to see running hills as “opportunity” to become faster.


Any other thoughts you’d like to share with those of us working towards a BQ?

It is important to see your training in a bigger picture. What we are trying to say is, there will be moment where you will experience the lows in training (e.g. GI upset, minor injury, sickness, unable to complete the workout or long run, etc.). In that moment, it is important to remind yourself that one “low” moment will not ruin your whole training plan. Treat it as a learning experience, and move on! Learn to trust your training plan, fitness, and have faith in yourself. If you do not believe in yourself, then it is very difficult for your mind to direct your body to achieving your desired goal. Do not be afraid of failure, as failure is part of the road to success, but success is much further down the road. Keep working, and sooner or later, you will achieve your BQ!

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