Five years between Ultimate entries is a long time.
Of the 2017 Ultimate field, Merzi Dastoor has taken the second most years between Ultimate finishes (his previous was 2012). Many Ultimate runners compete for one single year, or run many, often consecutive years. Merzi was one of those one-timers until we were pleasantly surprised to find out in June that he was back in for 2017, if only because it is generally so rare to have such a large gap between entries. As his family has grown and as Merzi has kept busy with a variety of sports, he has also continued to be involved with Run Waterloo and ENDURrun, and it’s great for everything to come together for another Ultimate this year. So being back for the week, is it as he remembers? “It’s like coming home, again.” Except for the Stage 5 course, which is more technical and less flat than the last time! Excuse me if we’ve covered this before, but it’s the people and the food that really stand out as excellent, five years on.
Merzi is lucky to have some good competition in the cumulative rankings, both in 2012, and again this year, with spots 4-10 separated by less than 20 minutes after Stage 5. Being in the middle of these battles has some perks, including that Merzi has a witnessed one of (many of) the cool on-course moments of ENDURrun 2017. For this we need some context: Catherine was trailing Vicki for 1st Overall by 6:43 after Stage 3. About halfway through Stage 4, Vicki made what she describes as a series of “rookie mistakes” – first by carrying fuel for the 10 miler, and then by stopping to pick it up – because she had dropped it! Merzi, who has had a back-and-forth battle with Vicki all week (the gap was less than two minutes after Stage 4), had the perfect view of the episode unfolding in front of him. Vicki turns around, which is a bizarre thing to witness in a race, especially with the Gold Jersey involved, and Merzi knows things are about to get interesting. And it would, as he sees Catherine make a move, and go on to extend the gap and win the Stage by 43 seconds, marking the first (and so far, only) time the cumulative leader has seen their lead decrease. It’s a case of right place, right time, and it only happens when battles are close.
Thanks for sharing that. Great having you back, Merzi!
One of the early storylines of ENDURrun 2017 was the enforcement of time limits, the tweaking of some limits, and the resulting community debate.
In the months since, as 12:30pm on Tuesday, August 15 drew closer, not many people were more affected by that deadline than Michelle Barnes. Of the seven Stages, 3, 4, and 5 can be the tightest. Michelle Barnes has created two of the moments of ENDURrun 2017 with her finishes in Stages 3 and 4, coming in a combined 6:15 under the time limits.
Michelle commutes over an hour each way during ENDURrun, so we conducted this interview by email. That gives us the opportunity, to publish in her own words, Michelle’s journey to this point and her outlook for this morning.
“I originally withdrew from the event because I had a knee injury and I knew that my breathing would not enable me to finish within the time limits. I didn’t want to force the volunteers to stay longer because of me, and I also was very prideful. I’ve never DNF’d, so why should I intentionally put myself in a situation where I was guaranteed one? I stopped running for a few months, and during that time my knee seemed to have healed. So did my pride and ego. I started running again and realized that a DNS is worse than a DNF and that I should just do what I could. So here I am, not worried about missing a time cutoff because that’s not what ENDURrun is about. It is about pushing yourself to your limit. It’s about finding out just how strong you really are, even when you think you can’t possibly make it. It’s about supporting each other and having your ENDURrun family believe in you even when you don’t quite believe in yourself. I am so incredibly glad that I decided to run the event anyway, even if I do spend every stage doubting myself. I don’t think I’ll make the cutoff on Friday because of the ski hills, but I will still do my best and will be proud of myself no matter how long it takes me. Besides, there is a huge advantage to coming in last – I get the biggest cheering section!
I want to thank all of the volunteers! It is so exciting to see who is at each aid station or who is marshaling various points along the course. Everyone is so enthusiastic and supportive. I also want to thank all of the other runners who tell me that I am doing a great job as they pass me; if I don’t verbally respond at the time it is because I am focusing on my breathing and can’t talk. I do appreciate the encouragement even if it doesn’t appear that way at the time.”
Michelle is currently halfway through her second lap here at Stage 5. Good luck! Update: Michelle made it in 7 minutes under the cutoff! How does she feel? “I’m shocked.” Congratulations!
It’s hard to believe that we’ve known the Putmans for eight years now.
It took some prodding from Paul Mora and Mark McDonald just to get them into the Relay competition, and then several years of organizing teams (2010-2013) before Cathy finally took the plunge in 2014. Both she and Aaron have extensive histories of ultramarathoning, multisport, and international competitions, so it wasn’t until 2017 that we finally get to see them in action together.
Throughout the years, ENDURrun has always felt like home to the Putmans. Although they live in Durham Region now, Cathy grew up in Kitchener, so the rest day is a good opportunity to spend time with friends and family, and of course, stop in at KW Health Connection.
ENDURrun history is checkered with many couples, and the Putmans will join that group on Sunday!
Without a doubt, Jack Kilislian is one of the most enthusiastic ENDURrunners.
In a community brimming with enthusiasm, Jack stands out. He is often one of the first runners to arrive and and one of the last to leave. He’s a fixture at all ENDURrun socials – including the rest day brunch, where we caught up with him today – and is well known for always lending a helping hand to volunteers. But Jack has another extraordinary claim to fame: more often than not, Jack is the first registrant for next year’s event (2018 included).
Why is Jack making the commitment so early, year after year? Simply put, it’s his “favourite running week of the year.” It’s a vacation, it’s and a strong community experience. He relishes the chance to feel like a professional runner (if you haven’t experienced the care of the ENDURrun food crew, you’re missing out). Many people need goals to plan towards or a commitment to ensure training, but with Jack, it’s just a no-brainer. (We truly appreciate the support!)
Jack approaches the subject of ENDURrun training as a dedicated ultrarunner. He sees the training for ENDURrunning and ultramarathoning as complementary to each other. (This is a topic we will explore in depth over the next year). This year, Jack is able to enjoy the event a little more than usual, as it is the first year since 2011 that he hasn’t run an ultra the day before Stage 1!
So you know where Jack will be on August 12, 2018. Who’s ready to join him!
At the time of writing, we have Rebecca, Merlin, Ashley, Race Day Mark, and Maureen too!
ENDURrun will be back for a 16th year in 2018.
Join us August 11-19, 2018, for an unforgettable week of challenge and camaraderie.
Register for 2018.
The base cost of the Ultimate is $400. We are offering a $50 promo code this week (ENDURRUNNER) for $50 off, which also includes a 2018 Run Waterloo membership, which will be available in the fall.
Registration for Ultimate is open now; all other divisions will open later in the fall of 2017.
Such is Merlin’s state of mind at Stage 4.
Flash back to Merlin Frey‘s attitude when he entered and finished the ENDURrun in 2015: he expected it was a one-time thing. But in the weeks leading up to ENDURrun 2016, he already knew he was missing out and decided that he would be back in 2017.
Fast forward to Tuesday, August 15, 2017, and Merlin is having a great week, until a freak toe injury while assisting the ENDURrun race crew (“Dang!”) ended his week after three Stages. So when Merlin did not start Stage 4 today, he officially became a DNF in ENDURrun 2017. But his attitude is positive and he is already anticipating 2018 and beyond. Merlin has come from discovering running in 2009 to embracing the Run Waterloo community and making ENDURrun an annual fixture in his year.
Merlin’s week will be a combination of spectating and volunteering. It’s great to have Merlin’s positive attitude around!
Glen Avery is the lone American in the field this year, but his running exploits are much more exotic than that.
Like many ENDURrunners, the event has been on his radar for for many years and many miles. Glen started running when he was 51 years old, and in the fifteen years since, Glen’s journey to the ENDURrun includes stage races of a different kind: seven marathons in seven days.
He first accomplished this in the Eastern United States (West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama) in October 2016, which was in training for the World Marathon Challenge (seven marathons, seven days, seven continents — with 24,000 miles in the air) which he completed in January 2017. In total, he has run at least three marathons/ultras on all seven continents, and he is the oldest person to ever complete the World Marathon Challenge. These great experiences with stage racing convinced Glen to try the Ultimate this year, and he signed up a mere 13 days before Stage 1. He’s thoroughly enjoying his week so far, which he considers to be a unique challenge.
At Stage 4 tonight, Glen will enjoy the 10 Miler. All things considered the stage is quite short, and it’s in a familiar measurement system, too!
Such was Susan Moizer’s experience in 2015.
All of our profiles so far have covered Ultimate runners currently in the competition. Susan’s story is different – she did not start Stage 1.
This story starts in 2015, when Susan, a three-time Ultimate finisher, sustained some devastating injuries that significantly affected her running and kept her off the start line for Stage 1 that year. It was an emotionally tough experience, harder, in her estimation, than her three finishes.
In 2017, Susan is back as a volunteer with a fresh perspective. She pulled the plug on a potential Ultimate attempt six weeks ago due to injury and how it has affected her training. Don’t get us wrong – we love having Susan in the neon shirt – but by Stage 3, she was starting to really long for the running side of the 8 Days, 7 Stages challenge. Susan knows that Friday is going to be a tough day as well (Stage 5 is her favourite), but she will get in the action as the Stage 6 runner for one of the #TeamLloyd Relay Teams.
The Stage 1 DNS is a complicated decision, especially after you’ve invested time, money, and emotions into the event. Sometimes it’s for the better, but it still doesn’t make it easy. Susan, it’s great to have you back this year, and we look forward to having you in the field again!
Overheard at the massage table today, from Amy Robitaille.
Amy’s ENDURrun journey began in 2015, when she first heard about the event from her coach and alumnus Mike Coughlan. A few years and a few Guest stages later, Amy is, in her own words, hooked after just three Stages. As pleasant as her two Stage 6 entries were in 2015 and 2016, we know that running Stage 6 is kind of like showing up late to a party where you know you’ve missed something great. This year Amy is getting the full ENDURrun experience and loving every minute.
We are excited for Amy because, although she lives only 30 minutes away, she is blissfully unaware of the Wilmot Line hills. She is planning to “enjoy every step of it” on Wednesday, and we think that she will probably make it out to Wilmot Line again sometime over the next year in training. Enjoy the morning off tomorrow, and see you in the evening for a 6pm start. All the best!
We caught up with Will Spaetzel over the first kilometre of his third lap in Stage 3.
Will is one of the Run Waterloo super-volunteers, dedicating countless hours over the year and during ENDURrun week. Will has often videoed and interviewed runners out on the courses, so we decided to return the favour this time!
This year is a different experience for Will, with his second entry in the Ultimate division (2013). Will is a few minutes behind his 2013 pace after Stage 2, but is also a few minutes off his Stage 3 time from that year. He isn’t sure yet if he can better his first Ultimate, but he will certainly have a better idea after today.
Asked, would you rather be running or volunteering? “Ask me on Sunday!”
For some Stages, we publish live results. Check out the Ultimate participants. As I write this, Rob Brouillette is on his sixth and final lap and we are expecting him any minute.