Monday, September 23, 2013

Sick Kids Foundation 60Km ultra run turns into record attempt

Three weeks before the Great Lake Ultramarathon was to take place I received a discouraging e-mail from the organizer saying that the event had been cancelled due to the low number of registrants. I had been training weeks for this and had already started my fund raising campaign for Sick Kids Foundation. My nephew Joseph was recently helped tremendously by Sick Kids after being born with a serious heart defect (he is in need of a heart transplant). I still wanted to follow through with my running commitment, but didn't know where I would do it or with whom.

A week later I saw a post on Facebook from a fellow ultramarathoner, Stacy Wallington, from Nanaimo, who was going to do a 60km run of his own at Westwood Lake on the same date the Great Lake Ultra would've been. He put out the challenge to other distance runners in the region. The Nanaimo Daily News picked up on the story the week before and interviewed Stacy. He hadn't heard of anyone ever running ten consecutive loops of the Westwood Lake trail before, so this 60km run would be a record breaking attempt, the FKT (fastest known time).

I was almost late to the 8 a.m. start because I was reading my Google Map print out upside-down. I didn't realize that Jingle Pot Road crossed Highway 19 at two separate intersections. Thanks to a couple walking their dog, who gave me directions, I arrived at the Westwood Lake parking lot with about 15 minutes to spare. Stacy was laying out his aid station in the trunk of his car as I drove in. I had a cooler prepared in my back seat with a jug of Gatorade and high carbohydrate snacks. Stacy's wife, Katy, and his mother, arrived just before we departed. They were joining us as walkers.

We set off at an easy pace, running together most of the first loop so I wouldn't get lost. The weather was perfect, and the trail had a lot of activity, as this was the same day a Dog Triathlon was taking place (something I had never witnessed before - dogs and their owners, racing, tackling an obstacle course, and swimming together). I think the local running club was doing a four hour run as well. Stacy passed me as I was at my aid station after the second loop.

Around noon the park began to clear out. The Dog Triathlon ended, and the other runners must have gone off for lunch. I was alone for long stretches, running, thinking of my nephew. Over four hours into the run I changed into a new t-shirt before heading out on loop 7. Stacy had already lapped me but said he was suffering leg cramps and wasn't going to continue. He decided to stay at his car to wait for his wife and mother. When I returned after the next loop they were waiting for me and politely asked if I wanted to end. I declined, saying I was into the ultramarathon groove and wanted to continue. So I went on alone.

The last three hours, at times, was a fight. I had a laminated photo of my nephew pinned to my t-shirt. I glanced down to it for inspiration from time to time. This was the most emotional ultra run I had ever done. I guess because this time I was running for someone who was family.

To keep track of my loops, once another one was completed, I would place a small stone by my aid station on the pavement. As I put the tenth stone down at the end of a neat row, I felt excited. Not only had I finished the 60km run but I had set a new record. I ran into the lake fully clothed and took a swim to celebrate.

Video on Little Joe Sargeant. Please share.

Donations are still being accepted here: Sick Kids Foundation 60 Km Ultra run And here:Heart 2 Heart for Baby Joe


Museum Strathroy-Caradoc said...

Congratulations Rob. When our little boy grows older, we will tell him about his uncle and the caring tribute made for him. You've made your parents proud one more time,

Deborah Strandberg said...

Love the faith Rob! Such a precious gift you are giving to honour your nephew! He and his family will remember this honour for a long time! <3

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Rob. You are an inspiration:-)