Over the summer months, six local trail runners have made their mark on ultra distance trail running events around the province. Coached by kinesiologist and owner of Equilibrium Lifestyle Management (ELM) Sarah Seads, runners are finding a new challenge and sense of accomplishment with ultramarathon distances.
“Ultrarunning events take you to some pretty awesome places with fantastic scenery,” Seads said. “Ultras can take you through alpine meadows, along endless ridge lines and to the top of big peaks…it really is amazing where you can go with your own two feet!
“Combine stellar views with the great vibe of ultra events and it is pretty easy to see why more and more of our trail running athletes are starting to get the ultrarunning bug,” Seads said.
An ultramarathon is defined as any event that goes beyond the 42km marathon distance. Ultra events range from 50kms to 200kms as well as multi-day staged racing events. In recent years, ultramarathon running has seen a massive growth in popularity with the number of events and finishers increasing exponentially.
In August, ELM runner Chanace Vanderheide placed fourth in her first-ever ultra – the Fat Dog 50km race in Manning Park. Brianna Lawrence and John Murray both had strong first-ultra finishes at the uber technical Squamish 50km, and veteran ultra duo Paula and Murray Galloway tackled the epic Squamish 50/50- running 50 miles on Saturday and 50kms the following day. This 50/50 was just a ‘training weekend’ for their main event, the Javelina 100-miler in October.
“The human body is an amazing machine. I have watched many novice runners progress over time and successfully reach ultra distances,” Seads said. “Combining the key training principles with time, dedication and desire, I believe that nearly anyone can complete and ultra marathon.
“Long distance training is an art and a science and becoming an intuitive runner is an important part of the journey. Like any sport, it is 90 per cent mental and 10 cent physical.”
And Seads has put a few miles under her sneakers too. This year she competed in both the Miwok 100km run in San Francisco as well as the Fat Dog 80km run in Manning Park where she placed second female and eighth overall in the worst weather the event has ever endured.
“It was heinous. It rained for eight of the 10 hours I was on the course. But it was also an awesome journey – 3,300 metres of climbing, amazing volunteers, lightning, thunder and a close encounter with a lynx on the trail. I’d run through rain for eight hours to see that cat again!
“I love running in the mountains. That is really what ultra marathon running is all about for me. And races are a great way to spend time with other runners who share the same passion for travelling through the wilderness on human wheels,” said Seads.
ELM offers coaching and clinics for all levels of runners, from beginners to experienced ultra athletes. For more information go to elmhealth.com