Looking Ahead

2009 was an excellent running year for me, and I expect that 2010 will be even better. So here’s my wrapup for the past year, and some projections for the coming year. (As always, your comments and feedback are much appreciated!)

There were a number of noteworthy events and learnings for me in 2009. Among them was my first ultra race, the Niagara 50K Ultra on June 22. Considering that I had no real idea what to expect in attempting this kind of distance, and that it rained torrentially for the whole race, I was pleased with my 6:19:00 finishing time. After the Niagara 50, I ordered my first pair of Vibram Fivefingers KSO shoes (I now own two pairs), and, while waiting for them to arrive, started running barefoot. Not the easiest of transitions from running shod to running barefoot, but that was own fault, as I went at it hammer and tongs, and wasn’t as gentle with myself as I should have been. But I’m committed to barefoot running now, and can’t see myself running any other way, unless it’s to wear VFFs or a pair of Barefoot Ted McDonald’s custom-made huaraches because of weather or trail conditions. (I’m just about to order a pair of the huaraches.) Lastly, I bought myself a treadmill. Now I can run at home, alone, and in any kind of weather, all of which are major incentives for holding to a rigorous training program.

So what do I have planned for 2010?

I want to run and race barefoot. It’s good for me, body and soul, and it’s good for my running. I want to run and race further – much further – than I have before. The Niagara 50K, in spite of the rotten weather, was an absolute delight, and made me hungry for ever more distance. I want to run injury-free in 2010. I’ve spent part of each of the last two seasons dealing with injuries, but like to think that I’m a little wiser now, and can do without that. Besides, running barefoot is a great way of avoiding injuries, so I know that I’m on the right track. I feel very strongly that, if I can do these things, I’ll become a better runner, and perhaps even a better person. (One can always hope, right?)

I’ve built a nice race calendar for 2010. Here it is:

  • Around the Bay 30K, March 28. This one’s a beauty, and the oldest footrace in North America, as it pre-dates the Boaton Marathon by three years. I ran it in 2009 in 3:02:07, in conventional shoes and in wet and windy conditions. I’d like to do the ATB in 2010 barefoot, but may have to wear VFFs, as there’s every likelihood it’ll be a cold day. It would also be really nice to break the 3 hour mark, but we’ll have to see.
  • Mississauga Marathon, May 16. I had to bail this year at the 27K mark, but will look to break my 30 year old marathon PB of 4:30. I’ll do the marathon barefoot.
  • Niagara 50K Ultra, June 20. Maybe get a little closer to the 6 hour mark, though I doubt very much that I’ll break it. Barefoot, for sure.
  • Iroquois 32K Trail Test, August 20. Something very different – a challenging trail run along the top of the Niagara Escarpment. There are seven very tough climbs on this route, and particpants are encouraged to take a one hour earlier start time if they have a marathon PB of over four hours. (Jeesh!) The huaraches will be just the thing for the ITT, I think.
  • Toronto Underwear Affair 10K, August 28. This is a charity fundraiser for “cancers below the waist,” and something I do as a prostate cancer survivor. It will be, as it was in 2009, our official corporate findraiser, so I’ll try to put together a team of staff and clients for the event. Barefoot, without a doubt.
  • Ottawa 24 Hour Run, September 18. A very big challenge. I have to learn more about the running surface for this one. It takes place on the Louis Riel Dome indoor track in Ottawa, the surface of which is a uni-directional composite called Mondo. Looks interesting, and is said to be fast, but I don’t know what it’s like to run on barefoot.
  • Port Credit 52K Pick UP Ultra, October 23. This will be run on four loops of road and trail near my home. Probably quite casual, with no awards, timing chips, or anything fancy. But it’ll be a nice way to close off the racing year, I think. Definitely barefoot.

My overall goal for 2010, then, is to really get into being a barefoot ultra runner. Maybe get quicker than I have been, but the real point will be to explore the joy of running, rather than looking to pure performance.

The race schedule I’ve oultined above will keep me busy from late March to late October. Until then, though, I’ve got an awful lot of training to do.



  1. As always, an inspiring blog post. I also like the new name for the blog.

    Also, I did not know (perhaps I should have before now) that you are a cancer survivor. I continue to admire your running journey more and more.

    Best in 2010.


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