Jasper runner pushes through the heat and the hurt
You could forgive him if he was starting to feel a bit overconfident.
Jasper runner Jean-Yvés Doucet has had a stellar season. He started out strong by winning the annual Mothers’ Day 10k, Totem Ski Shop’s Spring Run Off. In August, he was part of a group of five runners who took first place overall in the team relay at the 125 km Canadian Death Race in Grande Cache. Then he and fellow ultra marathoner, Bruno Bergeron (who was also on the Death Race squad) won the 108 km Black Spur in Kimberly, B.C., by more than 30 minutes, beating out teams of four and five runners.
“I was feeling really strong with all those results,” the 28-year-old said.
As such, when Doucet signed up as a soloist for the Lost Souls Ultramarathon in Lethbridge, a 100km sufferfest which tests racers’ will up and down the Oldman River Valley, he figured he had it in the bag.
“I was going there thinking I was going to win,” he said.
Twenty kilometres into the race, Doucet maintained that attitude. He was in the lead. Then he hit a big, nasty wall.
“It was hot. I thought I was drinking enough water. Clearly I wasn’t,” he said.
By kilometre 30, he realized he started too hard. He made it to the aid station, but he was destroying himself. “I wanted to quit,” he said.
However, Doucet didn’t want to disappoint his parents, who had flown from New Brunswick to support him.
“They were a big reason I didn’t quit,” he said. “They encouraged me to push through to the next leg.”
But he still wasn’t out of his pain cave. At kilometre 62, Doucet actually turned around, heading for the previous station, determined to pack it in.
“I’d turn around, ready to quit, then I’d meet a runner who’d push me. They’d give me a salt stick or an ibuprofen and I’d turn back around,” he said.
Five times Doucet did a 180, ready to pull the pin, but an equal number of times he’d be encouraged to continue by a fellow racer.
“I ran the same 150 metres five times, up and down the same hill,” he laughed. “I lost a lot of time doing that.”
Finally, he accepted he wasn’t going to win the race, and for that matter, even land on the podium.
“Once I accepted that it was a lot easier,” he said. “Once my mind was set on just finishing the race I could start to enjoy it again.”
Nearly 15 hours later, with 14 racers ahead of him, Doucet did finish. He’s glad he did. The result qualified him for a future Western States 100 mile ultra marathon, the world’s oldest and most prestigious trail race. He’ll wait for his name to be drawn.
Before he sets his sights on California, however, Doucet will wrap up his season at Canmore’s 50 km Grizzly Ultra on October 11. He plans to apply the lessons he learned the hard way in Lethbridge.
“All of these experiences will help me improve, I hope,” he said.