Chris Duke (above, at race finish), a Guelph Victor for more than ten years, finished the 200-mile solo race at Sulphur Springs, Dundas on Sunday morning, placing third in the unique event. (It’s the first time the distance has ever been run at Sulphur and one of only a few such ultra-ultra events ever raced in Canada.)
“I’m a little tired and sore,” he wrote with typical understatement to his supporters on Sunday afternoon, after finishing the event at 5:15 am the same day, about 65 hours after he began last Thursday. He ran and power-walked almost the whole time, navigating a hilly, 20K trail loop 16 times (320 kilometres), stopping only for meals and naps in his tent. His first day featured constant rain and a very muddy trail. The weather improved through Friday and Saturday, but the mud remained for the nearly three days he was out there.
For much of the race from Friday on, Duke was accompanied by multiple training partners, many of them Guelph Victors, who urged him on and helped him make mental decisions about when to rest and eat. He ran his first loop in 2 hours and 20 min, then slowed gradually to four-plus hours per loop by Saturday night. His last 20K loop, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, was run in 2 hours and 49 minutes, with Victor Stephen Kilburn, who reported, “He’s on fire!”
Duke is 51 years old, and works as an environmental consultant with OMAFRA. He and his wife Elise have three teenage kids, a boy and two girls. A few years ago he wasn’t running at all, after undergoing two knee surgeries in 2010 and 2012 to fix a torn meniscus. His doctor advised him to give up running. But Duke bounced back in 2013 and has taken to ultra running with a vengeance, with a several 100-milers to his credit before suddenly doubling the ridiculous distance last weekend.
Just one week ago, he was part of the Guelph Victors team that placed fourth in the Cobourg to Niagara Falls non-stop relay race. That event had 12 guys covering 304 km over 24 hours on roads and bike trails, a little insane, but not certifiably crazy. The following weekend, he covered 320 km, on muddy woodland trails, all by himself.
Eureka! indeed. As of Monday morning he said he was “feeling pretty beat up” and the bottoms of his feet were “like pins and needles on fire.” He thanked his family, and training partner Christa Yoshimoto, who coordinated his race support team of volunteers and running companions.
Duke was one of nearly a dozen Guelph Victors participating in the multiple events at Sulphur Springs last weekend. There were many other good Victors results (Ed Ross, Geri Higginson, Maria Batty, Kelly Rupoli, and more), but two spectacular ones:
- Christina Clark, 41, won the 100K race outright, first among women and men, in 10 hours and 29 minutes.
- Michelle Brady, 44, who is having a breakout year, was first female in the 25K race, in 2 hours flat, winning in a sprint finish.
benjamin catton is back at home
Andrew and Shannon Catton’s 22-month old toddler Benjamin is back at home in Guelph finally, after spending 90 days at the Hamilton Health Sciences Centre coping with a life-threatening infection caused by his congenital kidney condition. (Andrew owns The Running Works, which is integral to our running community, and we’ve been well aware of his absence since about December.) While in Hamilton, Benjamin underwent the removal of a kidney, intubation and even a tracheostomy, before beating the lung infection and returning home on May 17.
Andrew said, “Emily [Benjamin’s 7-year-old older sister] is especially happy. We’re back to the same noise, chatter, yelling, laughter, and other sights and sounds that have been missing from our home for far too long.”
Although Benjamin’s medical situation is complex, with many doctor’s appointments over the coming weeks, Andrew says, “we’ll gladly take them over what we’ve been through.” We send our best wishes to Andrew and his family, and express our relief that Benjamin is back at home again!
The singlets are coming; the buffs are next
If you ordered a Guelph Victors singlet when you registered this spring, then it’s being manufactured by Sugoi and will be here by June 20 or 27. We’ll notify you by email, and we’ll distribute them at the Tuesday track workouts when they arrive. Even if you didn’t pre-order one, you can still purchase your very own singlet as we’ll have lots on hand. As well, we’ll be placing an order for Victors buffs – a lightweight headband, scarf, balaclava all-in-one shortly – and will be selling these as well. Stay tuned for more info on this new, $10 Victors item.
How far would you run for a book?
Several Guelph Victors are organizing a fun race on Thursday night, June 22, to benefit the One World Schoolhouse Foundation, which raises money for literacy in St. Lucia. The trail run starts at 6 pm at the Turfgrass Institute, Victoria and College. The course will be marked and timed, but participants are free to run it as a tempo run, a race or a social run. Bring your own water – no washroom facilities provided. Bonus: there will be homemade cookies by Kelly Rupoli at the finish line! Suggested donation is $10, receipts for donations of $20 or more. No need to register, but please email email@example.com you plan to participate. Learn more about this Guelph charity is at OneWorldSchoolhouse.org.
Stroke and Stride: a new local multisport series
There’s a unique new way to break into multisport racing with the monthly “Stroke and Stride” events starting June 7 (next week) at Guelph Lake, and continuing the first Wednesday night of every month through September (four nights / races in total). It’s “Swim, Run, Done” with no bike portion, and multiple race distances from 25m swim / 250m run (for 3–5 year olds) up to 1500m swim / 5km run (for adults), and many combinations in between. The events happen from 4–7 pm each Wednesday night, and cost $30 to $50. (Guelph Victors enjoy a $5 discount, and their children a $3 discount.) The June and July races are at Guelph Lake, while August and September are at Gulliver’s Lake, south of Guelph. More information at strokeandstride.ca, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Run for the Cure looking for Guelph race director
The fall Run for the Cure 5K has been a hugely successful race in Guelph and beyond for the last 13 years, raising $3.2 million nationwide for breast cancer research. They’re now looking for a local run director and committee members (all volunteers) to help with this year’s event, to be held on Sun. Oct. 1. Contact email@example.com for more information.