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Canmorite conquers Grande Cache Death Race

Before running nine kilometres as part of the Sir Norman Watson Classic, Bruce Romanek had a good warm-up the weekend prior. He ran 125 kilometres over three mountain peaks as part of the Grande Cache 2011 Death Race.

Before running nine kilometres as part of the Sir Norman Watson Classic, Bruce Romanek had a good warm-up the weekend prior.

He ran 125 kilometres over three mountain peaks as part of the Grande Cache 2011 Death Race.

Romanek finished 11th out of 360 competitors in the event on July 30, in what is considered one of the most gruelling races in Canada, spanning 17,000 feet of elevation change with a river crossing, bush running and deadly competition.

No wonder the Sir Norman Watson course was a little flat for his liking.

“It was fun. I like running long distances,” Romanek said.

Not only did Romanek complete the entire race by himself, he also went with no support crew. That meant he had to take care of himself at the transitions, monitoring his own food intake.

“The toughest part was up Mount Hamel. It was a long time between feed stations, about 38 kilometres,” Romanek said.

Not only was he 11th overall, he was second in his age category, defeating 74 other runners in the 40-49 category. He completed the race in 15 hours, 56 minutes, a minute out of the top 10.

Several sponsored runners also took part in the event. The top finisher was Rickey Gates, an American who completed the race in 12:15:54.

Fuelled on multiple cups of coffee, Romanek trained by running the trails in the Canadian Rockies, spending lots of time on The Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park and in between Sunshine Village and Assiniboine in Banff National Park.

“I tend to run 30 kilometres a day with a few longer runs each week,” Romanek said.

Most of his training took place by himself, as he scoured the trails in search of decent training runs.

The Canmore resident has been running since 2007 and has competed in the TransRockies running race in 2008 and the Iron Legs race in Kananaskis Country in 2010.

However, the Death Race is one he wants to try again.

“I’ll definitely try it again. It was a good time,” he said.

Canmore’s Andres Ambuehl also competed in the race, but withdrew after the third leg of the race. Of the 360 solo competitors, only 131 were able to finish the race.




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