Ultra Running

Why curiosity might just kill the cat…

There’s nothing much more curious to many than the desire to run. Up mountains or down mountains, early in the morning or through the night, in the scorching heat or in a torrential downpour. But when curiosity leads you to experience all these factors in the space of one very long run, it’s generally met with a blank stare, huge concern over the state of your knees and a real doubting of your mental state.

But for all the potential damage, it could be the benefits it provides to your mind and lifestyle is incomparable. Stag Leap reached out to a few local, ultra-running first-timers, to find out just how their curiosity got the better of them, and what they learned en route to tackling The Elk Valley Ultra, their first ever, last July.

Russ Trand, a local all-round mountain lover, who tackled the EVU solo, along with his wife Deb, to celebrate their respective 50th years. They were crewed by their awesome kids, Morgan and Owen, and were successful, jubilant and absolutely shattered.

Helen Fuller, a local, super fit Fernie’ite with an equally fit husband Dave, and young running champ daughter, Ella. After Helen’s amazing race last year, hubby Dave is toeing the line in 2018.

Jayme Smithers, a huge personality and the creator of the Fernie “sharpener.” He and wife Tove both raced solo, and yes, Tove was victorious, apparently passing Jayme at the top of Stupid while he was lying on the ground. Rumour has it she didn’t step on him. They were supported by four-year-old Henning.

Expectations vs Reality

“I tried to go into the race with a “what will happen, will happen” approach as I didn’t have the experience to form expectations! Mentally, the day went way quicker than I expected, however, the physical aspects were harder than I thought they’d be!”

“Expectations aside, the reality was that the entire experience was remarkable. From meeting amazing people training to figuring out a plan to completing the course. Not to mention all the other participants and the amazing volunteers supporting you to the finish line.”

Race Goals

“To finish and not be the absolute last – which is the same as on most of my long training runs! I also wanted to avoid getting caught up in the start and burn out going up Mt Fernie. I genuinely thought I’d dialled it back, only to find out that I’d set a PB! Races will do that to you I guess.”

“Be a role model for my daughter – lead by example set a goal and follow through. Involve my family - this made the whole experience, (training and race day) a heckuva lot more fun! Get through the training and make it to the start line. And lastly, finish the race!”

Best lesson learned

“Figure out a hydration and fuelling plan, practice it, and then stick to what works on race day, while remaining humble to whatever curve balls get thrown your way!”

“The event pushed me to find new limits, create new joy and emotion for running, nature and best of all it reminded me of being a kid. Kids experience new things for the ‘first-time”’ almost every day, yet as adults we forget”.

Why keep going?

“One of the best things was the new friendships formed while training. I’ve shared some miserable experiences on winter training runs, had a blast on a spring training camp, shared an incredibly rewarding race day and continue to explore with the same group.
Where do I mention the incredible volunteers and how I wouldn’t have been able to finish without their enthusiasm and support!? It was amazing to see everyone get to their feet to applaud the last competitors across the line.”

So why give it a try? Because it’s a sport like no other, full of highs, lows and everything in between. You toe the line next to both elites and first-timers, vegans and a dude ploughing through a chicken while running. You make new best friends at 2 AM as you’re sitting in a ditch, quietly hoping something would just come out the darkness and eat you. And, despite coming out of it broken and filthy, you find the truest, strongest most inspiring version of yourself.