54km Bike and Run Race. Still Actif. Still Epic.

As you may have noticed, the new 54km bike and run event registration is now live.

We’ve added this event because we’ve received feedback from potential participants who say our longer events are just a bit more than they’re interested in. Maybe this seems odd coming from one of the race committee members of an ultra-endurace event, but let me tell you, I get it.

In university I was a 400m middle-distance sprinter. Maybe it’s just my pride talking, but I’m not sure there’s a harder Athletics event than that. I would have preferred to be either a longer or a shorter distance runner but my genetics had other ideas. In Track & Field all events seem to garner respect (okay, the 100m is definitely the glamour race, but no one thinks anything in Track & Field is easy).

In the broader athletic community it’s often the longer distance stuff that gets the attention.  If you run a 10k cross county race in a reasonably brisk 36 minutes your mom may pat you on the back, but if you paddle 100km in 20 hours everyone thinks you’re incredible (for a minute or two anyway). I’ve done both. I wasn’t more impressed with myself doing one over the other. They were simply different accomplishments.

I’ve also been on a few epic bike rides that have had me questioning my sanity. Here’s a pic of one such ride.

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It was taken near the end of an all day exploration of Grosse Isle. It was 36C and sunny. My wife and I, along with two friends, got lost less than half way through the ride and ran out of water a bit after that. I crashed more than once, physically and mentally. The picture is hanging on the wall in our home gym as a reminder that together we can persevere and conquer the crappiest of days. But you know what? It’s possibly been harder for me to summon the physical and mental strength to get through a local 40 minute B category cyclocross race, and finish mid-pack at best.

My point is almost any physical challenge can be epic. Heck, the last of 10 reps of a chest press can be epic. I haven’t always made it through the last one of those. Or the last 3. They’re just different challenges that sometimes suit different people.

I have tremendous respect for our long distance competitors. There’s a perverse romance to seeing some of them creep across the finish line after 30-some hours out on course, offering a really sad but somehow still enthusiastic high five as they receive their medal and then collapsing into fetal position for the next 15 minutes as the little energy they have left reconstitutes. There’s something equally impressive about watching our shorter distance competitors sprint against each other to the finish, trying to hold off the leg cramps that have been threatening them for the last 4 hours.

There’s even something cool about not pushing yourself to the very extreme, no matter the race distance. 54km, 120km, 162km, or 200km, you’re out there, Actively living life at whatever pace you chose, or whatever pace chooses you.  The Epic will come, whatever the distance or discipline. It always does.

Scott W

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