When I ran my first marathon, I qualified for Boston but didn’t think much of it. Shortly thereafter, it seemed that in every running conversation I was asked when, not if, I’d race the Boston Marathon. I questioned the hype and truly didn’t know the significance of arguably the world’s best-known road racing event.
Until I did it.
And I got it.
Twenty-one years after that initial 42.2K I finished writing my marathon chapter at the 2023 Tokyo Marathon. It was the race of my life, the brightest and most incredibly satisfying experience of my athletic career. In my twenty-second time racing the distance, I mastered it. Everything about it, and the events leading up to and around it, was perfect. All of the uncontrollables worked in my favor toward achieving this finale on such a high note, one that I was blessed to write on my terms.
In the months after, I had no desire to even think about racing again. I continued running for the pure love, joy and satisfaction of it, and waited to see when, and even if, the ambition to compete would return. I enjoyed completing workouts and long runs with my Coolsaet Go athletes I was coaching, and eventually started thinking about racing again.
When writing about my first (unofficial) ultra, a 54K in 2020, I discussed similarities and differences in road marathons vs trail ultras. I said the most common comment and question after a marathon is, “Congratulations! Enjoy the downtime. When is your next one?” whereas from the ultra runners it’s:
“Congratulations! Welcome to the club. So, when is the 50 miler?”
While I truly thought my next ultra race would logically be one step up—a 50 miler—I’m jumping ahead to the 100K distance, which I plan to run on May 25, 2024 at The Sulphur Springs Trail Race in nearby Ancaster, Ontario.
I’ve heard great things about this race for years, some while on long runs with my friend Dale who once held the 100-mile course record. The same Dale who suggested I try to make the Olympics. The same Dale who said I’d make a good ultra runner. And I also listened to positive experiences from Tina, a running friend who shared the same desire to venture further into ultras after finishing the marathon journey. I knew it was a race I’d likely try some day. And after learning about the excitement around the news that the 2024 race needed 100 finishers in the the 100K (18 hrs) AND/OR 100 Finishers in the 100 Miler (30 hrs) to be granted Western States Endurance Run Qualifier Status, I knew it was the year.
I know several running friends who have registered for this event, which includes other race distances and relays. Some friends even include those from my high school track team who had asked if I’d run in a relay with them (sorry, David, but I’ll see you there!).
I look forward to learning more about training for and competing in this distance as both a coach and athlete. And I know I’ll be once again guided by the right person, Coach Reid Coolsaet who successfully ventured into the ultra scene himself, also after completing his marathon finale. Lastly, I’m most excited to run alongside my closest running friends with whom I’ve shared thousands of kilometers for over twenty years.
Let the new chapter begin!