This has been a gruelling week for a group of dedicated runners, putting in 160 kilometres of racing by Sunday during the 12th annual ENDURrun.
The running series kicked off in Conestogo on August 10 with a half-marathon, and continues until the coming Sunday with a full marathon in Conestogo again.
The other five days include races of 10km, 15km, 16km, 30km, and 26.5km.
Jordan Schmidt, operations manager of Run Waterloo, said 46 people signed up to do all seven stages, nearly double last year’s participation.
“That’s big because the ENDURrun is a very close community,” Schmidt said. “For the event to grow from 25 to 46 in one year is a big step for the event.
He said they average 80 to 90 people per race, as many people come out just to do one race, or the weekend races.
The idea for the running series came from his father, Lloyd, who wanted to create a “Tour de France” type event for runners. The distances and locations are based off of how he trained in his younger days.
“He would be running up to 100 mile weeks and he varied his training that involved long runs, short runs, and trail runs, a lot of things that are involved in the ENDURrun,” Schmidt said. “In a way it’s like a Tour de France because it’s staged races where people compete in very different events every with a cumulative time.”
Schmidt said they see the biggest turnout for the 10km run and the weekend races, since some of the weekday races are in the morning. He noted they have a lot of runners from out of town staying in Waterloo to compete, which helps bring people together as friends and competitors.
“This event has a very unique set of feedback,” Schmidt said. “In the running industry a lot of the events are quite similar and this is totally unlike other running events. Some people look at that as a summer camp for runners.”
For new runners interested in trying out the sport, Schmidt offers his advice. First, get the right pair of shoes. Talk to someone at a running store because there’s nothing more discouraging than going for your first run and getting injured.
“The next thing would be to find out what your capabilities are,” Schmidt said. “Don’t run too much too quickly. That’s a recipe for disaster. Another important factor would be to find out what motivates you, for a lot of people that’s running with other people.”
He also recommends sticking to a schedule and gradually increasing time and distance.
This year’s goal of growing the event was achieved. They’re also happy to see how competitive it’s becoming. In stage three, the 30km, neither the men’s or women’s champion from last year won the event.
In 2006 there were only five competitors, compared to the 46 now. He said this adds more depth to the competition. It should be mentioned that the marathon is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon, a monumental achievement for any serious runner. Runners from across Ontario, into the U.S., and even Portugal came out for the races.
After the first three stages, Matthew Leduc of Ajax is in the lead for the men, three minutes ahead of Patrick Kelly from Ottawa. Toronto resident, Mindy Fleming, leads the pack for the women with Angela Batsford, Petawawa, four minutes behind.
“The community that’s created from the event is like nothing else. That’s what keeps people coming back. They get attracted to that community.”