Keith Wakelin, seen here leading an Island Race Series race, set a new Canadian record in the 50-mile ultramarathon distance at the Elk/Beaver Ultras in Saanich recently. File photo

Merville man shatters Canadian ultramarathon record

Keith Wakelin takes 22 minutes off the national time for 50 miles in the 60+ age group

Keith Wakelin of Merville shattered a long-standing Canadian record at the Elk/Beaver Ultras in Saanich recently.

Wakeling ran the 50-mile ultramarathon in a time of 7:43:57, shaving an incredible 22 minutes off the old Canadian record for 60-year-olds and over. The record had stood for 24 years before Wakelin dismantled it.

“I’ve been training for this for a long time and couldn’t wait to turn 60, so that I could take a shot at the record,” said Wakelin.

Wakelin has been running and racing for 50 years now and doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

He has run more than 750 races and about 75 races of the marathon distance and over. While he has had moderate success over the years, since turning 60 he has won his age category in the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon; the Tarawera 50k Ultramarathon in his home town of Rotorua, New Zealand; the Island Race Series, including the Comox Valley RV Half Marathon; and now the 50 Mile at Elk/Beaver Ultras, which was the Canadian National Championship this year. Wakelin was third overall in the race, but won the Masters (over40) category.

The race went according to plan, sort of.

“I had some challenges during the race which I had to overcome,” Wakelin said. “The first came at 48k where I ran out of energy and barely made it to the aid station where I ate and drank a lot to replenish my energy stores.

“Then during the next lap I got a nosebleed that I couldn’t stop, so I came into the aid station with blood all over my face and shirt. The volunteers thought I had fallen. I also had to deal with very sore feet and extreme fatigue in the final 25k or so.”

Wakelin doesn’t race many times beyond the 50k distance because of the severe discomfort. However, he knew he had a good chance at breaking the Canadian record so was up for the challenge.

“I’m elated to be a Canadian record holder and relieved it’s over, but mainly I’m grateful for still being able to compete at a high level for my age,” he said.

Wakelin also broke the six-hour Canadian record for 60+ during the race by two miles, but it is not an official record, as the organizers were not in position to measure where Wakelin was at the six-hour mark. However, Wakelin said he was contemplating going for the six-hour record next year in Kingston, Ont.where an official race for six hours is held.

Wakelin is currently training for his 26th time running the 30-mile Kneeknacker race in the trails above North Vanvouver in July, where he will be attempting a course record for 60+.

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