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Township roads dotted with runners pushing to the limit

Weeklong series of events in the ENDURrun will test the mettle of even the most seasoned joggers

Organizers of the annual ENDURrun call it “the ultimate test of endurance” and “the Tour de France of marathons,” and it’s not hard to see why. Spanning the Waterloo Region over seven stages, with events ranging from a 16km hill run to a 25.6km alpine run to a concluding 26-mile marathon, this weeklong endurance test promises to challenge even the most determined runners.

Local joggers hit the ground running for Wednesday’s 16km hill run in Heidelberg, one of seven stages of the ENDURrun event. A concluding marathon departs from Conestogo on Sunday.[Will Sloan / The Observer]
Local joggers hit the ground running for Wednesday’s 16km hill run in Heidelberg, one of seven stages of the ENDURrun event. A concluding marathon departs from Conestogo on Sunday. [Will Sloan / The Observer]
With a 6-10km time trail departing from Elmira on Saturday at 8 a.m., and the concluding marathon beginning in Conestogo on Sunday at 7:30 a.m., runners could use a little advice on how to keep going. Lloyd Schmidt, ENDURrun’s race director, has some pointers.

“Stay hydrated, don’t go out too fast, and know the course,” he said of the Conestogo marathon. “It is a hilly course, not a flat course, so you’ll want to prepare for that. And look at the temperature that day, because the forecast says it will be pretty hot.

“If you take all those considerations into account, that should be able to help you get through it.”

While ENDURrun mostly attracts seasoned runners, Schmidt said that neophyte marathoners are often caught off-guard by their first 26-mile jaunt.

“It’s all a learning experience,” said Schmidt. “Your first marathon, you’re probably not going to do it right. You’re either going to go too hard or go too slow or not drink enough. You learn from it, and try to do better the next time.”

How exactly does one make it to the point where one can run 26 miles without collapsing into a puddle of sweat and shame? As you might expect, it’s a long process.

“There are a number of different programs, like 20-week programs where they build up each week,” said Schmidt. “They gradually build up, increasing their longest run every week by a couple of kilometres. They hit about 30km about two weeks before the race, and then they taper off and rest for the final two weeks.

“They don’t go too far past 30 in their preparations, because that takes a lot out of you and you still have to train.”

Schmidt estimates that at least 95 per cent of marathon participants in the ENDURrun make it to the finish. “For the weeklong event, if you run all six stages before the marathon, it’s pretty rare that they’ll drop out then. They’ve gone so far, they’re going to gut it out until the end.”

Whether you run 26 miles or a leisurely 5km, the ENDURrun is all about promoting the running lifestyle.

“It can change your life,” said Schmidt. “So many people tell us they lose weight, get more confidence in their job, they feel better, just everything in their lifestyle. It’s such a healthy thing to do, they don’t go back.”

More information on the ENDURrun, including entry rules, can be found at endurrun.com.

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