One of the great features of sports is how you can step away from one and take up another — all the while staying active and engaged. For Simon ten Cate Brouwer, it was a health diagnosis that caused him to switch gears in a big way.
“I’ve just got into running since January,” said the 33 year-old member of the Hope Secondary 2004 grad class. “I was having back troubles and I found I had two fractures in my spine — so I’m shifting away from lifting weights for my hockey and I’ve switched to running.”
A sign that he was on the right track was his winning time of under 21 minutes at this year’s Hope Hustle on the Brigade Days weekend.
“I’ve been training around town for fun and I’ve been doing the Hope Hustle quite a bit,” he said. “That was the fastest I had ever done it. My legs were burning pretty good!”
After a great result on the popular 5 km trail, ten Cate Brouwer was looking for another challenge. That’s when the idea of a 50K mountain ultra marathon came along: the Frosty 50 in Manning Park on Sept. 21.
“I have some friends in Abbotsford who I’ve been running with and they said I should do it,” he said. “I signed up on the last possible day, a week before the run.
“I did a half-marathon in London, earlier in the year,” he added, though he hadn’t been putting in the typical training distances in preparation for this grueling mountain race.
“A normal marathon is about 42 kilometres, so they added another eight on this one,” said ten Cate Brouwer. “You go up and over Mount Frosty and back down to Lightning Lakes, then up and over Skyline and back down to the lakes. It’s eight kilometres of descent, then a flat run to the finish line. I think in total, it was 7,800 feet of elevation climb”
The five aid stations along the route had some surprising refreshments, along with the water, energy gels and electrolytes. Competitors could have their own special packages stored at the stations as well.
“There was candy, chips and all sorts of junk food,” said ten Cate Brouwer. “Coca Cola is a favourite amongst runners. I packed dill pickle juice at the halfway point, to restore my electrolytes.
“There’s a fair amount of planning that goes into it,” he explained, “and before you feel thirsty — even before the race — you take on water. Once you feel thirsty, it’s too late.”
Local outdoor enthusiast, Ferd Alcos happened to be hiking the Frosty trail on the same day, when he saw ten Cate Brouwer bounding down toward him.
“We said a quick hello and I wished him luck as he ran down the mountain,” said Alcos, “and I yelled out, ‘It figures that you’d be out here, doing this!’ He’s a pretty fit guy.”
After completing the second peak, potential troubles emerged.
“Before the 40K mark, I began to cramp up in my hamstrings and quads,” said ten Cate Brouwer. “That eventually faded and the last five kilometres were my fastest of the day. I was passing a lot of people.”
Out of 32 starters, ten Cate Brouwer finished in sixth place, with a time of 6 hours, 5 minutes and 18 seconds — minus perhaps a minute, as his exact finish was missed when a bunch of other shorter-race finishers came in at the same time.
Parents, Ben and Sandy and sister Janelle were at the finish line to greet the weary mountain man, who had some big recovering to do.
“I ate a large pizza when I got home — and I had a hard time sleeping that night, as my adrenalin was still pumping,” said ten Cate Brouwer. “I watched football all day on Sunday and about 48 hours after the run, my legs were pretty sore. It’s called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS.”
He should know, as he earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology at UFV, before a master’s degree in physiotherapy at Manchester Metropolitan University.
“I’ve been practising in London for a few years and now I’ve been sponsored by a sports medicine clinic in Hong Kong. I’m just waiting for my visa to go through and I’m working on construction with my dad in the meantime.
“I hear the trail running scene in Hong Kong is enormous,” he said.
With the current mass protests in the city streets, the hills could be a good place to head to.