On Saturday, June 3, 2023, 14 year old Ronnie set out to conquer his first 50-mile segment of the FAwR run. FAwR is a 100+ mile journey across Windsor-Essex Ontario, which can be completed in multiple chunks across an 8-day span.
Ronnie had this 50mi goal last year, but an injury kept him from attempting this daunting distance in a single chunk.
Anyone who has been following Ronnie knows that he’s not just naturally talented, but also possesses an extraordinary level of drive and grit. He participates in these runs to challenge himself, but also because they instill in him an immense sense of self-confidence and pride.
Despite months of training, Ronnie’s volume didn’t reach the levels we had initially planned. This shortfall was due in part to my own injuries, and time spent away at another race. Nevertheless, in the couple of weeks leading up to the run, anticipation and excitement grew. Ronnie, who attends a supplementary educational class known as RISE for a portion of his school day, shared his excitement about the upcoming run with his friends and teachers.
Ronnie (at school during the sharing time):
“I’m going to run almost 2 marathons. That’s 80km!”
Ronnie half jokes and half complains all the time about school announcements that congratulate mathalon (Math marathon) winners. He wants nothing more than to get acknowledgement for his achivements.
The night before the run, Ronnie, who often struggles with sleep before runs (like his father), took a small dose of melatonin to help him sleep. He managed to get 3-4 hours of sleep before I woke him up.
We arrived 15 minutes early for the race for a start time of just after 5:00 AM.
Only 30 minutes into the run, with only the dim light from my headlamp, Ronnie tripped on some uneven pavement and crashed to the ground. He scraped his knee and wrist but popped back up before I could ask him if he was OK. He had a couple of minor scrapes, but nothing that would stop him from his goal.
About ninety minutes into the run, we stopped at a golf course building along the route for Ronnie’s second restroom break of the day.
I started a tradition during my first year running the FAwR: giving the middle finger to a difficult segment of the route named Soul Crusher. I’m a particularly quiet reserved person so I think for that reason it caught on within the weUltra group. We’ve continued to give a “salute” to Soul Crusher every year since then.
We continued down the Soul Crusher (also known as Meat Mincer) portion of the trail. His mom, Nana (with Cookie) and Meme (with Pepe) did stops to drop off water and supplies to him along the route to get him past the halfway mark.
During the Meat Mincer part of the course, Ronnie warned me he had to poop again. Outside of road angels, this section has no aid, it is exposed, hot, and has absolutely no bathrooms in sight for hours.
I told him we had 15km remaining until we’d reach a town but I knew that it would still be a couple hours. Within 30 minutes he told me he wasn’t going to make it.
I said: “OK let’s do this”. Ronnie proceeded to squat and have his first trail poop. I had toilet paper and wipes in my bag that he could use. A few minutes later, I’ll spare you the details, but the mission was successful. He was feeling better and he stayed clean. Ronnie was extremely proud of himself for this feat.
“I’m going to tell Mrs Wong’s class and my friends all about having my first trail poo.”
“Are you sure you want to do that? I don’t think I’d tell anyone about it”
Ronnie (With a huge grin on his face ):
“No wait, it’s cool! Mrs Wong will probably say too much information. I can’t tell my other class because the teacher will get mad, but I’ll tell my friends.”
Throughout the remainder of the day, we stopped at nearly every bathroom. He was doing the run of his life with the “runs”.
A friend of the family, Serg, met him for the last half marathon to help distract Ronnie until the end.
Ronnie had pre-planned to push slightly past the halfway mark, aiming for 80.1km, to finish just past Colchester Bar and Grill. His aim was to “Beat all the dummies that stopped halfway”. Slightly more than half the field did stop before or at that exact location.
As we approached the halfway mark (of the entire 100+mi course), we realized it would be a couple km more than 80km. Ronnie complained but kept going. We finally arrived at Colchester Bar and Grill, and he had beaten his estimated time by so much that no one was there to greet him! He decided to keep going.
A couple more kilometers later he asked why this run keeps getting longer? He spotted his mom in the distance and sprinted towards her for the finish. His Aunt Christie, Meme, Pepe, and brothers were there to greet him too.
Ronnie wrapped up the day with an impressive time, just shy of 14 hours, covering an astounding distance of over 84km. He indeed achieved his two full consecutive marathons! With just over two hours spent in various washrooms, and of course, one memorable stop in nature, it was a day of monumental achievement. I’m not sure if he’s more proud of the new personal best distance or the trail poo. Congratulations on being officiated! “Achievement unlocked!”
Over the next week, Ronnie will tackle the remaining ~80km of the run. His FAwR journey run is far from over and there will be more stories to tell. His next segment begins in 2 days on Wednesday. Stay tuned and join Ronnie’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3574016429370493.