Fredericton ultra-long distance runner completes two giant races, two weeks apart

Drew Wallace’s body is sore, but his spirit is light. He’s elated he was able to complete a goal he’s trained hard to accomplish, running 100 miles (160 kilometres) in the Quebec Mega Trail race on July 1 in 33 hours, 3 minutes and 21 seconds.

The ultra-long distance race starts from the city of Baie-Saint-Paul. Part of the trail involves climbing Mont-Saint-Anne, almost twice. It was something Wallace tried to accomplish last year but had to stop at 90 kilometers.

“I was moving so slow and all I could think about is that I had 70 kilometers left and that number 70 just was so big in my head that I guess, like just dwelling on it and it’s like, I can’t do it at this pace. It’ll be forever.”

Wallace didn’t want a repeat of last year, so he continued to train. He tried to simulate what he would really go through by running 160 kilometers a week, including the hills.

“That was the hardest part of the whole hundred miler that I had to tackle was probably the amount of hills, so over 6000 meters of [vertical] in that. So I’m trying to match that in a whole week. So I’m going out to Crabbe Mountain, I’m going to Odell, I’m going anywhere that was a hill and doing that over and over and over until I reach the amount that the race requires.”

A tired buy happy runner at the end of the 100 mile race. (Supplied by Drew Wallace)

He knew he was going to also have to deal with extreme fatigue. The runners start at night, go all day and into the next night.

“And so you’re fighting tiredness and sitting down in a chair and almost falling asleep instantly and just trying to get back up and get going. To get through those things is just a mental checklist of just, you’re only tired and that’s your only excuse, and that’s not good enough,” said Wallace.

Two weeks before running 100 miles, he ran 100 kilometers in another race in Quebec. It wasn’t a long time to recover, but he was ready this time. He knew his biggest challenge would be his mind. Running is 85 to 90 per cent mental, Wallace said.

Drew’s running shoes take a beating during a race like this and sometimes he needs more than one pair. (CBC Jan Lakes)

“There are some really dark moments for sure. I think the more that I race, the better I am of kind of entering those little moments of when you’re really slow and you have to climb a hill and you don’t want to climb a hill and you have nothing left in you,” said Wallace, “You know that you can get through and your body’s capable of way more than you give it credit for.”

The hardest part of the race was the last 50 kilometers. But racers are allowed to have a pacer, someone who sets the pace and keeps them going for that last leg.

Wallace’s girlfriend was there for him and he says he wouldn’t have been able to finish without her.

“There was a moment where I was completely depleted and she just got me the things that I needed. Being at the finish line with her, yeah, it was really nice and a moment that I’ll never forget.”

And crossing the finish line was such a relief. “You’re just so happy that it’s all done and you just want to go to bed and sleep.”

Drew needs to keep things light when running. He takes headlamps to run in the dark and finds it easiest to hold onto his water bottles so the weight doesn’t hurt his back if he carried them in his vest (CBC Jan Lakes)

Now Wallace is recovering from the two races and enjoying time with his girlfriend and young daughter. But his mind is already on what he will accomplish next.

“I think when we pursue things that are tough, then it adds to our character and who we are. And I wanted to see what I was really made of. And as I climb this ladder of longer distances, it’s always been a goal. And it feels great to get there. And the question is always, what do I do now?”

Information Morning – Fredericton11:02​Ultra-long distance runner​

Running for a few hours can take a toll​ ​but what about 33 hours straight​, ​on some tough trails and high elevation. ​Jan Lakes spoke to ultra-long distance runner ​Drew Wallace ​from Fredericton​,​ who just completed a 100 mile race in Quebec.

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