Vegan Alister storms Bromont Ultra
Return to Bromont - with hopes of a course record
Last year Alister Gardner put in an amazing performance at the Bromont Ultra. The event has races at various distances, and Alister had a convincing win at the longest 160 km distance (which was reported here). With enormous 6000 metre height gain, this really was a hard course by anyone’s standards.
This year Alister was seen lining up at the start of the 80 km race, although in the days before he had planned to run the even shorter 25 km.
“The Bromont Ultra was not originally on my race calendar as I am training towards Philadelphia marathon in November” Alister explained afterwards. “The plan was to do the 25 km race as a ‘fun’ long run, but I had a feeling I was in good shape to have a crack at a new course record on the 80 km course. So the day before the race I changed my plans.”
The course record was 8 hours 21 minutes, a strong pace for any 80km race, but a step above this for the Bromont with an incredible 3500 metres of height gain. Of course, nobody break the course record without winning the race, and the win was far from inevitable for the Canadian vegan.
“I was far from confident of a win in the first 30 kms” he says. “At the 15 km mark I felt the lead group (about six of us) were going to fast so I eased off to do my own thing. Almost immediately I reconsidered that decision as I wondered if the pace could actually be held for the whole race. At around the 35 km I had caught up with first and second place but wasn't confident of a win until around the 70 km mark.”
Coming in first at 7:53, Alister took a large chunk off the old course record. He was grateful for good weather conditions.
Fuelling during a race of this distance is crucial, and Fruit2 and Fruit3 energy bars were really helpful.
“As my stomach shut down (which is often the case in ultra races) I finished off with maple energy gels. I ate a couple of pretzels at one station but it wasn't easy.”
Alister was pleased to note that he was not the only vegan taking a course record on the day. Elliot Cardin ran the 55 km race and set a course record there too.
Alister felt that between them they had made a point, and told Great Vegan Athletes “I am stoked to be demonstrating that vegans can dominate in such tough sports.”
Alister turned vegan over two years starting in 2010.
“I had been reading a series of articles from the Guardian about the hidden truth of modern farming” he explained. “I was horrified to realise I was being a part of that by buying meat products so I told my wife we had to source only local, ‘free range’ meat produce.
"Then I read the final article about the abattoir and it stopped me dead - I had never considered it - so when I got home I said that was it, no more meat. It all happened in a week. I tried to source local eggs from neighbours farms and organic cheese (assuming it was more humane) but after two years I knew I was kidding myself and so stopped completely and have never looked back.”