This column ran in the Aug. 8 edition of the Daily Gleaner.
The Running Whys caught up with Bernie Doucet, an avid runner with a great deal of experience. We conducted a short question-and-answer session with him to learn about his perspective on running, his passion for the sport and where it has taken him.
First, tell me a bit of your background, your family. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?
I am 48 years old. I grew up in Moncton but have been working and living in Fredericton for 20 years with my wife Rebekah Chasse. Working for GNB in various roles but currently working in Crown lands management at DNR.
When did you start to run?
Eight years ago.
Most importantly, why did you start to run?
As a younger adult I was involved in team sports, primarily Ultimate Frisbee, and only ran and cycled a bit for base fitness for other sports. After tearing my ACL in the early 2000s and having knee surgery, I gradually moved away from team sports.
That’s when running progressively became more dominant for me. However, it was not until I ran my first marathon in 2007 that I got hooked on the sport and started running and training consistently. I ran my first marathon in Saint John in the Marathon by the Sea in 2007.
Many people have goals for a particular year – what were/are your big goals for 2015 and beyond?
My main goal for 2015 was to complete the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run (trail race) on June 27. The Boston Marathon, although part of my build-up for the WSER was also a goal race for me. My third goal race for 2015 will be the Stone Cat 50-Miler (trail race) in Massachusetts in November. However, in 2015 I have also run GUT, a 10-hour snowshoe (trail running) challenge on Wentworth Mountain in February, as well as the Wascally Wabbit 80km (trail race) in Nova Scotia and the Mont Sutton 23km mountain run (trail race) in May.
Going forward, I am registered for the Vermont 50 Miler (trail race) in September and the Mont Orford 23km (trail race) Mountain Run in October.
For 2016, my racing calendar will look similar, but the only race that I am committed to at the moment is the Boston Marathon. The rest will depend on scheduling and race lotteries. However, my ultimate goal is to try and fit in two 100-mile races in 2016, but I have not yet decided which.
What is your most memorable run?
My most memorable race is the 2013 Vermont 100-mile race. It was my first 100 miler – the element of the unknown was the biggest I have ever faced so finishing that race was a huge high!
Maybe there are two or three memorable events?
In a three-way tie for a close second place would be the 2010 Boston Marathon, which is my marathon personal record of 2:56; my 2014 Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim run (Crossing Grand Canyon from the South Rim to the North Rim and Back to the South. Although it is not a race, I cannot imagine a better way to experience the Grand Canyon in all of its glory – I will do this one again!); and lastly this summer’s Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. This was the 42nd consecutive edition of the first 100-mile endurance trail run in North America and is largely touted as one of the most prestigious.
The views on historic gold and silver mining trails were nothing short of spectacular and the organization and energy of this event were astounding.
This is basically where endurance mountain and trail ultras really started and the race’s prestige draws in the best mountain trail runners in the world.
Do you have regular training partners, a regular training route?
Although I do a lot of running on my own, I also often run with local trail running legends such as Andrew Titus, Nathaniel Couture, Josh Dick, and Jeremy Ritcey (Woodstock), Blair Mann (Moncton) and Jody Isenor (Nova Scotia).
My training routes range from the hilly Fredericton roads, the flat rail trails; the O’Dell Park trails as well as the local mountain biking trails. The Cape Chignecto Loop is an annual pilgrimage, while the Fundy Park as well as the Crabbe Mountain trails are also on the regular rotation.
I have been going back to the two mountain trail races in Quebec mentioned above for three consecutive years and have run the Boston Marathon four times as well as four consecutive years at the Vermont 100 (twice for the 100km and twice for the 100 miler, which are run concurrently on the same course). So I guess you could say those races are on the regular rotation as well.
What do you like most about running?
I love living a fit, active lifestyle and discovering my limits – whether it is how long can I hang on at the verge of oxygen debt for a 5km or seeing how far I can push my endurance in a 100-mile mountain or trail race. I also love spending time in the outdoors, especially in the backcountry and mountains trails. Running and racing, in particular on trails, is just about the perfect venue to fuel those passions.
Do you have any other thoughts about running you would like to share?
Running is a great sport to maintain a fit active lifestyle and Fredericton has a great supportive running community. For anyone thinking of getting started, be it on the trails or on the road, they should contact the Capital City Road Runners Club and/or the Fredericton Trail Runners and they will find overwhelming support.
Kevin Barrett’s column appears every other Saturday. If you have a suggestion for a feature story, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit barrettkevin.wordpress.com.