Running is a very popular individual sport and activity, and many of my students like to go running in their free time. After some experience in running, many people like to try out a running race. Usually, the distances for races start at 5K (kilometres) and they go up from there. The ultimate challenge for most runners is to run a marathon: 42.195 kilometres long. Marathons are popular around the world, and half marathons (21.1K) are even more popular. However, there are a few of us who become interested in an even bigger challenge. A race that is more than 42.2K long is called an “ultramarathon”, and often they’re called ultras, for short. Soon after I took up running many years ago, I met some ultra runners, and for some reason, that really interested me. I enjoy running on trails, and most ultras are held in isolated locations, while marathons are usually on city streets, and they’re frequently quite crowded and noisy. When I heard about the Blackfoot Ultra, east of Edmonton, I decided to do the “baby” distance, only 25K. Ever since it began, in 2002, I’ve gone out to do this race, while I’ve been living in Canada. Saturday was the second time that I completed the 50K distance.
Another fantastic ultra run is the Lethbridge Lost Soul Ultra. A friend of mine had done the 50K distance there, and so I began travelling south every September to attempt the distance. I wasn’t successful very often, but I really love this race, and the area where it takes place, in the Lethbridge coulees. It’s so peaceful to be alone in a wild place for hours and hours. This year, I’ll travel south again to try to walk and run the coulees for the whole 50K distance. Other runners are going 100K or 100 miles, so the event takes 36 hours. That should give me enough time to finish, if all goes well.