Anyone who’s ever run a marathon will tell you that it isn’t something you wake up one morning and decide would be a good idea to do.
But the Yk Multisport Club decided to give people another challenge: an ultra race. It proved to be popular here at home and across the country. That last part will be explained in a bit.
The 6/12/24 Ultra was held for the first time ever at William McDonald Field on June 26 with a total of 59 people running in Yellowknife. Those running in town had the option of either doing it on the track and William McDonald or doing it around town on a course known as the free bird option. No matter how they did it, runners could choose to run over six hours, 12 hours or 24 hours and run as far as they could during their selected time.
Cameron Twa was the race organizer and he said he’s not sure if anything like this has ever been tried before in Yellowknife.
“People might remember the Rock and Ice Ultra from a few years ago, which had a 300-kilometre race, but that was over six days,” he said. “This one was continuous and we were debating at the track if this had ever been done but I was really happy to see people taking this seriously. It pushed a lot of people to the limit and they deserve to be proud about their achievement.”
Runners could run or walk as often as they wished and could take as many breaks as they needed with no limits, he added.
The only problem that befell the race was the timing, or lack thereof.
“The timing bar didn’t work,” said Twa. “We tried to get it going but no luck so we asked people to keep track of what they did and prove what they ran once their time was up. We gave people credit for every step they took, even if they had to go for a bathroom break. You did what you could do.”
On the track, Steven Griffith-Cochrane ended up running the farthest in the 24-hour track category with a grand total of 161.1 km traversed when time was called at 7 a.m. on June 27. Lauri Leppanen was next closest on the track with 120 km exactly while Lore-Ann Krysko ended up doing 109 km.
In the free bird, Jessica Chenkie ran the furthest over 24 hours as she clocked in with 71.27 km. Jamie Lavers was next with 45.6 km.
Loren McGinnis was one of those who did the 24-hour track run and covered the same distance as Chenkie: 71.27 km.
He said this was his first real run after having surgery earlier this year and in his words, it was a chance to put a defibrillator on his running life.
“I tried to have a good experience,” he said. “It was joyful, in a way, to be around everyone and to support Cameron. I haven’t done a lot of running but being a part of this was a lot of fun.”
The heat played a big factor at the start as the mercury hit 28 C and that was something which concerned McGinnis a bit.
“You don’t get a lot of those hot days up here so it gave me a bit of fear,” he said. “You see these people who come with support teams and I was self-supported – which was a big reason why I chose to do the track and not the free bird – but everyone was very kind and very supportive.”
Now for across the country.
There was a virtual option for people within the confines of the Canadian corridor that wanted to join in and several did with entries coming in from Calgary and Valleyview in Alberta along with several from the Greater Toronto Area and one from Saskatchewan.
“The ones from Calgary did the 24-hour option, Valleyview did the 12-hour and the Saskatchewan entry did the six-hour,” said Twa. “I was really impressed with those who did it outside of town.”
The plans for now are to have this race again next year, said Twa.
“I don’t think a lot of people knew what to expect from this year but now that they have an idea, I’m sure they’ll sign up to do it again,” he said.