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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Elk Beaver Ultras 2008 the story

Extreme runners tackle Elk-Beaver Lake ultramarathon

Non-stop running for 10 hours?

Some might think it crazy, some, impossible. But Carlos Castillo thinks it’s great.

He’s been running ultramarathons for more than six years now and when he describes the elation – the high – that comes from running 50 kilometres in under five hours, it sounds like he’s talking about falling in love.

The first stage (half an hour or so) can be a little rocky. Things are just starting to heat up. Then the feeling turns to fire for the next hour or two.

“It’s just a feeling that you get like you could run forever,” Castillo said. “It’s almost euphoric.”

Just like love, as long as you don’t push it, you can maintain that ecstasy for unimaginable periods of time.

The longest run Castillo has sustained was just over 30 hours.

“You see two sunsets and you’re in the same race,” he explained.

After so many hours of hitting the trail, a bit of pain can be expected.

“Normally it’s a little sore on the joints and your feet are a little sore,” he said. “And the bones ache.

“You have to spend at least 10 hours on your back in bed. But as long as you’re eating protein, you’re ready to go again in a couple of days.”

Although Castillo won’t compete in tomorrow’s Elk-Beaver Lake Ultra because he’s been designated the race director, 40 others will, mostly from Vancouver Island. They’ll take on four different distances: 40, 50, 80 and 100 kilometres. The latter lasts for about 10 hours, with the runners pacing, on average, 10 kilometres per hour. This is the 21st year of the event.

It’s easy to tell the difference between a marathoner (42 km) and an ultramarathoner because “marathoners look half naked,” Castillo said. Contrarily, ultramarathoners carry hydration kits, shorts with pockets to keep food and heavy, good quality trail shoes.

An ultramarathoner wears out five to six pairs of shoes a year.

Castillo says the 100-km race is definitely the most interesting. “There’s not too many men (and women) who can run 100K. It sorts out the ones who train from the ones who are just gifted.”

The Elk-Beaver Lake Ultra starts at 6 a.m. tomorrow (May 3) under the shelter at the Beaver Lake parking lot. The end time is 5 p.m. sharp. For more information, visit

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