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Evan Dunfee plans to balance athletic world, potential council duties in future

Dunfee is vying for a seat on Richmond City Council in the fall election.
Evan Dunfee is heading to the Worlds Athletics Championship on Sunday.

Richmond Olympian racewalker Evan Dunfee's athletic career is not ending just yet despite him vying for a seat on Richmond city council in the upcoming fall election.

Dunfee is planning to balance his role as an athlete and as a member of council, if he is to be elected, in the future.

"I'm going to put out my best effort in both and see where those chips lay and what's possible," says Dunfee, while hinting he still has his eyes on the 2023 World Athletics Championships and the 2024 Paris Olympics.

While he can't say for sure if he'll be able to do both, he is "certainly not ruling out the possibility."

"I don't want to be be in a position where one thing or the other isn't getting the time it needs."

Major championships and Olympics, Dunfee explains, often take place during summer break for council and he doesn't see much conflict in that aspect where he would miss council meetings.

"It comes down to whether or not I can do the training around council duties."

To him, there is a lot of similarity between municipal politics and preparation for a 50K race.

“I see a lot of similar things in my preparation for a big race as I do with how city council operates in terms of digging into the fine-grained minutiae of things,” says Dunfee.

And while not many people can say it’s fun to read a 200-page planning document, Dunfee says he has found it to “spark joy.”

“I feel very content, like at peace with the direction that I’m going and knowing that I’m sort of easing out of my life as an athlete and putting energy into this new thing that I’m passionate about."

But making sure the “most vulnerable” people are heard in decision-making is another issue Dunfee would like to champion, which he thinks would make the city more equitable.

“If people align with the vision that I have for what my priorities are, I reckon that no one will out door-knock me,” says Dunfee.

His first priority after returning from his summer competitions is to convince the Richmond community that he would be "a good person to have representing their desires and beliefs at the council table."

In the meantime, the 31-year-old is taking part in the 35-kilometre racewalk at Eugene, Ore. on Sunday, July 24 and says he feels “ready to go.”

“The goal really on Sunday is to go out there and just have a race, be proud and leave everything out on the racecourse,” says Dunfee.

“I don’t necessarily know or have a plan of what place I want to finish, but I just want to get everything out of body, and I’ll be happy with what I can do.”

Despite being excited for the upcoming and non-stop competitions, he told the News it hasn’t been an easy year for him since his bronze-medal triumph at the Tokyo Olympics.

World Athletics and the International Olympic Committee for the 2024 Paris Olympics scrapped Dunfee’s signature 50K racewalk event, leaving him to readjust his training in new distances for competitions.

Dunfee stopped training “as an excuse” to justify an echo in his mind telling him he “was not good at the 35K as the 50K” early in the season.

“It’s been a mental struggle for me, finding the motivation and … mostly related to just coming to terms with the 50K not existing anymore and that was so much of my identity,” says Dunfee.

He was able to “put in some decent training” in the last few months with the help of his sports psychologist, physiotherapist and other staff.

“I owe so much credit to the support staff and everyone for getting me healthy, happy and ready to race.”

Not only that, Dunfee also had a physical set-back where he re-injured a hamstring that pulled him out of an event in Spain recently, which forced him to return home early.

“I told (my physiotherapist) that I’m never going to be more than an hour away from you,” says Dunfee, adding that he is 85 to 90 per cent better and training again without any issues.

But the competitions don’t just stop at the Worlds Championships after Sunday.

Dunfee will also be heading to the UK for the Commonwealth Games from July 28 to Aug. 8 to compete in the 10,000-metre race on the track.

And while he has performed time trials, he has “never actually done major races” on the track before.

“It’ll be really cool to be in the stadium and racing on that track. It’ll be fun to see how it plays out,” says Dunfee.

Following that, he will be heading to the Bahamas for the 2022 NACAC in late August to defend his title in the 20,000-metre racewalk event.