Andrew Jacobs is one Ponoka marathon runner who has lost count of the number of miles he has run in the 2014 season.
He even donned a mascot suit in one marathon in an attempt at breaking a world record. Jacobs developed a love of running in his last year at Ponoka Secondary Campus and found himself wishing he started at a younger age. “I like running because you’re always running against yourself.”
Since attending Red Deer College (RDC), Jacobs made his debut in long-distance running at a half-marathon in Red Deer last year.
He hasn’t looked back.
Jacobs’ 2014 marathon season started at the end of April with the Edmonton Police Half-Marathon at which he placed 32nd out of a large group of runners. After that there is an almost dizzying schedule of marathons, grizzlies, triathlons, Spartans, ultra beasts and mudders that Jacobs competed in.
Just two days after the Edmonton race on April 27, Jacobs flew to British Columbia to compete in the Vancouver Marathon. He won a contest that earned him accommodation and entry into the marathon by submitting a video to organizers. “That was my first full marathon.”
For his world record attempt at the fastest time in a mascot suit, Jacobs donned the Jefferson the Dog outfit for the My Next Race group. The heat did not help his times but he wanted to see how challenging it would be as one of the rules is to keep the head on at all times of the race.
“I went step, by step, by step,” explained Jacobs, saying he kept drinking water to stay hydrated.
He didn’t make it, but Jacobs said he is considering another attempt next year. The trick is to be able to race on a day that is not too hot.
“That was mentally tough, as well as physically tough,” he added.
Among some of the challenges he faced was the Sinister 7 Ultra 100 mile relay in Kananaskis, B.C. He teamed up with other Ponoka runners to complete that race. Jacobs’ schedule was pretty tight, some weekends he would race a triathlon one day, and then the next day would be an eight-kilometre race for his cross country team at Red Deer College.
Some of the more fun races included the Night Race in Calgary, Aug. 9 where Jacobs ran the 10 km course in 39 minutes, placing fourth overall.
The Iron Legs 50 Miler Aug. 16 was one race that challenged not only his stamina, but his determination. Jacobs took on this challenge solo unlike some of runners who ran it as a relay. He finished in 13 hours and placed 22nd out of 65 runners. “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” he said.
The race took a meandering course up and down mountain paths and at one point runners found themselves above the tree line. Jacobs says the biggest challenge was staying mentally focused without losing site of his goal.
At one point in the race, he became angry at himself for even trying a stunt at doing the 50-miler by himself. That anger fueled his resolve and he pushed to the finish. All he could think at the end was “this really deep sense of accomplishment.”
For anyone attempting a race like that, Jacobs says mental resolve plays a large part in completion. He vowed never to do another race like that again, but Jacobs admitted he has since signed up for another one next year.
How does Jacobs stay in shape? He rides his bike from Ponoka to Red Deer. He also rides around the city as he prefers that to running on a treadmill.
Jacobs’ times are improving as well; his time splits in a marathon show the second half of his race is generally faster than the first.
“I try to pace myself so that I have negative splits,” he said.
Jacobs placed 13th in provincials recently and was RDC’s Athlete of the Week in October. He says he can’t wait for next year.