Ultrarunner Steve Bridson emerges series champ
Steve Bridson ran 1,024 km during 13 ultra marathon races and this past season to become 2015 Ontario Ultra and Trail Race Series champion.
An ultra marathon is 50 km or longer, sometimes much longer. Among this summer’s races, Bridson placed first at the Dirty Girls Run, completing 156 km in 24 hours (a repeat performance from the year before), placed second at the Creemore Vertical Challenge, running 75 kilometres, and ran the Sri Chimoy Self-Transcendence Ultra Marathon in Ottawa completing 162 km or 100 miles in 24 hours around a 400-metre track. Bridson had to circle the track about 400 times, which he said is exceptionally challenging because unlike trail running, participants can always see the finish line and the repetitive motion is more difficult on the legs.
Bridson is the recipient of the Norm Patenaude award three years running for completing nine or more races in one season and was Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series’ top male runner for the United States and Canada in 2014 and 2015. Also in 2014, he came in first in Ontario for his age group (50+ years) and second overall and was a member of the “petit slam” running three races of more than 100km and one over 120km.
“Pushing the envelope and exploring the limits during the races is what motivates me. Otherwise, I just like running for fun or to de-stress. I always set goals within reason, re-evaluate them periodically and raise the bar whenever I can. The initial goal this year was to just complete all 13 races and to beat my good friend and rival Jack in one race this year. Things turned out better than I planned,” said Bridson.
The 53-year-old elementary school teacher began running long distances when his family went down to one car and he ran back and forth to school in Nottawa, 16 kilometres.
Bridson drives to school these days but he is out running everyday before 5 a.m. getting in 10-17 km each day, more on weekends. He says whether or not he drags a tire behind him on a rope depends on how motivated he feels.
When asked where he finds the motivation he said, “I usually explain it this way, I run because I can. I get up each morning, get out on the country roads and run for an hour or two. I feel accomplished after each run, then anything else I get done during the day is butter on the bread. When racing as I said before, I love the challenge of seeing how far I can push the envelope.”
“It is funny, during training, it is like a recharge of my mental energy. My thoughts bounce around constantly from one thing to another. By the time I’m finished I am relaxed mentally and ready for the day. During races it is different, anything longer than a 50 km race, it does become a mental game, the body can be well trained, but if you lose your focus your race usually falls apart. During the real long races, it is bound to happen, but through experience you learn, if you dig a little deeper there is always a way to get back on track. Mental strategy is to understand it is a long race, and when the going gets tough, focus on small gains, like to the next aid station and I always tell myself to “never finish with any gas in the tank.”