Red Deer runner catches bike thief after 40-minute chase

Click to play video: 'Alberta thief can’t pedal away fast enough from championship runner' Alberta thief can’t pedal away fast enough from championship runner
WATCH: It was late last week when a Red Deer, Alta. man spotted a man riding his wife's stolen bike. As Kent Morrison explains, his running skills came into play for what happened next – Nov 4, 2016

Devin Woodland is a pretty low-key guy. He speaks softly and chooses his words carefully. Even when recalling his pursuit of a bike thief through downtown Red Deer, he keeps it simple.

“It was a good morning jog,” Woodland said.

It was more than a jog though; it was a flat out race and Woodland won.

The race began the morning of Sept. 27. The starting line was the McDonald’s on 52 Avenue. Woodland out for a run when he spotted something familiar so he decided to take a closer look. He was sure that he was looking at his wife’s bicycle that had been stolen two days earlier. The only difference was her bike was blue; this bike had been spray painted red and white.

Woodland confronted the man with the bike.

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“His story didn’t add up so I was holding onto the bike, talking to him about it,” Woodland said. “I asked if I could have my bike back.”

But the thief didn’t want to give the bike back. Instead, he took off. So Woodland ran after him. He kept pace for more than 30 minutes.

“He was doing all these random turns around back alleys so I would cut corners and meet up with him,” Woodland said.

What the thief likely didn’t know was that Woodland was the 2012 Alberta College Athletic Conference provincial champion in cross country running. This summer, he ran his first triathlon, which he also won.

“I thought about giving up,” Woodland said. “But I’ve run marathons before, so what would another few kilometres do?”

Not only did Woodland keep pace, he was also on the phone with police, directing an RCMP constable in a car where to go to catch the thief.

“They didn’t really believe me. They kept asking where I was and I kept telling them the location was changing because I was running,” Woodland said. “But he was a sneaky guy. He didn’t really go where any cop cars could follow him.”

The thief may have dodged police, but he couldn’t ditch Woodland, who runs downtown roads and trails nearly every day. He could anticipate what would happen next. Finally, after nearly an hour, Woodland and an RCMP officer had the man cornered.

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“When the cop arrived, he just threw the bike down and dove under a bush,” Woodland said.

When the RCMP officer retrieved the suspect from the bush, Woodland said he didn’t want to press charges.

“His day was already miserable. I believe in God. He forgave me, I can forgive other people. Didn’t need to make it worse than it already was.”

And with that, he hopped on his wife’s bike and rode it home in search of breakfast.

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