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In Search of Al Howie - Contest Winners

Here they are: three running stories submitted in the book giveaway. Make the most of the lockdown and read!! Or just listen to good music. Or both!

Stewart Gunyon of Quebec

"My first Ultramarathon was in 2015 at 53 years old. The trail was basically a hiking trail in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Fairly gnarly territory, roots, rocks, mud, that kind of thing. The race was a 50k. I had contacted the RD, she knew where I lived and suggested that my training ground was nothing technically compared to the race trail. I said "okay" and went ahead and registered anyways. Looking back, I realize my training was entirely inadequate, but I am used to getting things done "on grit". As it happened there was a heavy rainstorm the night before the race. The race was quite small, maybe 25 starters for the out and back course. There was also a 12-hour race going on at Base Camp which was quite popular.

I was wearing my fairly new Hoka Challengers which proved to be completely inadequate for this terrain. I was looking around me and all the locals were decked out in their rugged Salomon gear. The race progressed, and I missed a turnoff that climbed to a lake. I hit the turnaround and wondered why I was seeing so many frontrunners (embarrassing!). I eventually figured out that I had missed the when I got there on the return leg, I did it twice. By then it was clear that my lack of training and poor shoe choice were slowing me down considerably. I was demoralized at the 35km CP. But the guys there were so cool. "Here, take all the donuts you want!" They also encouraged me to continue, as the 12-hour race was going on for many hours, and I also wasn't injured, nor dead last!

So I slogged on, in ankle deep water and mud. My shoe liners crimped up so I took my shoes off and removed them. I had brought caffeinated drink mix, and learned that it just made me angry! I went through all the stages of "never again" to "stupid RD"! Finally I passed the marathon mark, and about one kilometre before the finish I stopped, tucked my shirt in, washed my face and put on my best smile. I jogged in to the finish line and actually finished my first Ultra in 11 hours. After the high-fives were done, I went back to the car and got a beer out that I had kept cold. For about 30 seconds I allowed a bit of a sob to escape, as it had been a pretty rough day. Then I thought of a chap who had come in his wheelchair to cheer on his brother...and I pulled it together! So it was a pretty horrible day, but in the end wasn't so bad. I finished, and learned a heck of a lot!!"

Mike Kotska of Michigan

"I had to go number 2 so I snuck into a barn where there was cow watching me doing my business. It was a 20 mile training run. The finish was worth it!!"

Tim Wilkinson - Knight of Sufferlandria

I did my first Ultramarathon when I was 17.

It was 50 miles.

I finished.

My time was 10:36:12

Youngest in Canada to finish an ultramarathon.

The race? Al Howie Ultramarathon Classic.

Guess who came out to Meades Creek after they won ?

That’s right, Al did !!

He ran with me to Lake Cowichan. Up till the last km.

“Go ahead, finish it off, you earned it. Well done!!”-Al Howie.


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