Ken Duncalfe may be a late bloomer in the running world, but not even a global pandemic could prevent him from competing in the 2020 GMS Queen City Marathon.
Determined to complete his second marathon, Duncalfe took to the streets of Swift Current on Tuesday to complete the 42.2 miles necessary for a full marathon.
“I had registered for the Regina marathon back in February, but it got cancelled pretty quick. I think it got cancelled in early May or April. At the time what they said was they would offer a virtual marathon. If you wanted to do it you could do it any time in September. You use a running app on your phone, carry it with you, and you just do the race on your own,” he explained.
Duncalfe had already paid his registration fee and at the end of August he received his swag bag, which included a finishers medal. “I thought to myself I didn’t earn that. If I am going to earn that I have got to run the race.”
He said the training to compete in the marathon was an ongoing process.
“I train year-round, but summer time you have to ramp it up. Leading into races you start doing longer runs, weekends is when I do my long days where you are doing 20-plus kilometres. But I’m running four days a week, anywhere from eight to 30 kilometres depending on the day.”
On the other hand, this year’s preparation wasn’t exactly smooth sailing due to COVID-19.
“It was a little bit of a strange year for training because you had a race you were working towards and then it got cancelled, so it brought you down a bit. Then the Winnipeg marathon was going to be a go, the Manitoba Marathon. So I thought well I’ll register for that one. They were a go for the longest time, so it kind of got me motivated to get my training going again.”
Eventually that marathon was also cancelled, but Duncalfe still hit the streets to train and finished his race in 4:22.00 on September, one day before he would have ran in Regina.
“It was tougher to train, so I probably trained a little bit less than I should have. I wasn’t pumped about my time, but I wasn’t surprised,” he admitted.
Duncalfe had participated in his first marathon in Victoria last year.
“That marathon had three or four thousand people running in it and it had a crowd of at least that many people all the way along the trail that are motivating you. It’s just a different atmosphere than going out in Swift Current and going for a run. It’s tougher to stay motivated.”
Duncalfe was accompanied by his friend Homie Haghighi Jadid, who ran 16 kilometres and then biked the final 10. His daughter Elliot also biked the final 10 kilometres with him to help make the successful full marathon possible.
“They had their backpacks that had the water and whatever I needed with them. Without them I would have been in trouble,” he admitted.
Duncalfe paid the price for his ambitious run on Tuesday.
“The after effects hurt. The next two hours after you’re done are pretty uncomfortable. You don’t really have an appetite but you feel like you just burned 4,500 calories so you ‘ve got to replace that. I was pretty happy with the way my body reacted during the race. Balancing the nutrition for something like that is tricky. You don’t want to overeat. You don’t want to overdrink. But you still have to be feeding your body as you go.
“I was happy with the body during the race. But after the race it’s pretty uncomfortable. Your legs are giving out on you. Your stomach, you’re not sure if you want to eat, puke, or somewhere in between,” laughed Duncalfe, who was feeling better the following day, but still sore.
At the age of 43, Duncalfe is a relative newcomer to the marathon community.
“I made the decision to get healthier, so I started exercising more in my life and then I found that I needed a goal, I needed a reason to be going out there and doing it.”
He ran a 20-kilometre race at the Beaver Flat 50 when he was 41 in 2018.
“After that I needed a new goal, so that’s when I decided to do Victoria or to do a marathon period. I enjoyed it and I wanted to keep motivated. I’m the kinda guy that as soon as I sign up for something, once I commit to doing something, I want to do it right, I want to do it well.”
Duncalfe said he will take it easy for the next month and then get back into training in hopes that marathons will be possible next year. He also hopes to eventually participate in a marathon in Niagara Falls that starts in Buffalo and crosses the Peace Bridge where he can combine a marathon and some travel.