Lori Herron likes to run. A lot.
The Fernwood resident thinks nothing of running for hours on end. Over the last nine years, she’s competed in more than 20 ultramarathons, ranging from 50 kilometres to 120 miles.
Don’t think these races are a walk in park. Most of her races are tough trail runs, traversing mountain passes, river and rocky terrain.
And it’s all in fun.
“I’ve not yet had a bad race, despite having terrible blisters and throwing up,” says Herron, 55, a Canada Post employee.
“I guess some people would classify that as awful, but I’ve never mentally got to a place where I’ve been defeated.”
Herron got involved in ultramarathon running differently than many others in her sport. While most runners begin with 5, 10, even 21 kilometres races, she took on the Great Walk – a 64.5-kilometre run from Gold River to Tahsis.
Her running career began when a few women got together and decided to start running.
“It seemed like a fun thing to do with a group of fun ladies,” Herron recalls.
The race training didn’t start out as planned.
“It was very difficult. I can vividly recall my first run,” she says. “I went out by myself. I don’t know if I got an entire block in before I had to start walking. It was hard.”
It didn’t take long before those miles got easier and she was ready to take on the Great Walk. The achievement from that event was that she was able to run most of it.
She then made her mind up to run her first marathon before she hit 40. Seven months later, she competed in the Victoria Marathon and before she knew it had 19 more on her resume – each time getting a little faster.
Herron qualified for the much-heralded Boston Marathon, and then decided to put more of her efforts into ultramarathons.
She got involved in trail running when her ex-husband would come home from a run lauding about being out the woods, splashing through creeks and mud.
She turned out for a run with a trail group led by Mike (The Trail Guy) Suminski and was hooked.
“There was just something about being in the forest that was very therapeutic,” Herron says.
“It was just so much fun. You didn’t have to run up every hill. You could walk and it was OK. I love mud up to my knees. The dirtier the better.”
Soon, she turned all her efforts to trail running and ultramarathons.
Herron admits she isn’t overly fast as a runner, but has the mental capacity to tackle any distance.
Her proudest achievement, so far, was the Hurt 100, a 100-mile race in Hawaii, considered one of the toughest runs in North America, which she competed in January 2014.
A total of 132 competitors took part in that race, with only 52 finishing. Herron was the only Canadian woman and the oldest woman to finish.
“It’s just a hard, hard race. You are constantly going up or going down,” says Herron, who finished the race in 35 hours.
Suminski, who has run with Herron since 2006, says she has incredible athletic ability and a will to compete.
“Her accomplishments are unparalleled, not only here, but down in the States, too,” he says.
For Herron, it’s still about the challenge.
“These are huge accomplishments, but there is still this thing in your head where you’re thinking, ‘ah, maybe I should have been faster. I struggle with it, but I feel quite adamant that I have nothing to prove.”