Next time, they’ll bring more water.
That lesson, more than any other, is what Bryan Sommer, Brendan Singbeil and Mike Fraser took from their grueling 47-km Juan de Fuca Trail run earlier this month.
The three friends, and member of the Bayside Sharks Rugby Club, set out on the run – along the southwestern edge of Vancouver Island – on Aug. 4, in part to raise money for Bayside’s Adopt-a-Shark program, which pays registration and equipment costs for young players who could not otherwise afford to take up the sport. They also laced up their trail-running shoes simply to see if they were up for the challenge.
In both cases, the run was a success. The trio raised about $1,000 – enough for four youngsters to play rugby next season – and also proved that, years after they all stopped playing competitive rugby, they were still able to complete a grueling, physical feat.
The run was not without it’s difficulties, however.
“It was hot out. Really hot. And we ran out of water with about 10 kilometres to go, so that made it a bit of a struggle at the end,” Sommer said.
Still, they completed the 47-km run in about nine hours, which, Sommer said, was not quite what they were aiming for, but were proud of nonetheless.
“It was a little longer than we would have liked, but we’re happy we did it. For me, it was one of those things on my bucket list.”
Sommer admitted all three were sore for a while after the run’s conclusion, but “not so sore that we couldn’t walk or anything, but it took its toll.”
“We were all in decent shape. Mike is a firefighter and Brendan still plays with Bayside’s third division team, so we had a good (fitness) base,” he explained. “But playing rugby isn’t quite the same as running long distance. On the field, you run a short burst and hit someone. This was a little different.”
The team took their first short running break at the 29-km mark – where family members met up with them – and Sommer admits they got some strange looks from others on the trail, most of whom were walking at a leisurely pace.
“The heat and the lack of water was one problem, but the other challenge we discovered was how hilly, how up and down, the trail really was,” Sommer explained, adding that they trained for the run for about six months, often running local trails.
“It’s tough to find a running rhythm when you’re jumping over tree roots and things like that. And sometimes, you’d be on a stretch that was pretty narrow – you’d look to your left and it’s a 100-foot drop-off into water.
“But it was just beautiful out there.”
And while they may not repeat the same feat again in coming years, Sommer said they’ll likely continue to raise money for the Adopt-a-Shark program, perhaps through other athletic endeavours.
“We’ll do something with the same spin, but whether it’s another trail run, or a hike up a mountain, or a long paddleboard, I guess we’ll see.”
For more on Bayside’s Adopt-a-Shark program, visit www.baysiderfc.com/node/89