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The mid-race diet of a Big’s Backyard ultra runner

Ginger ale and burgers got Stephanie Simpson through Big's Backyard Ultra

Stephanie Simpson was the Canadian winner at Big’s Backyard Ultra – an event put on by the legendary Laz Lake. Simpson completed 43 hours of running before claiming the crown. This is her first major win in an ultra event. Simpson is a mortgage broker from Montreal by day who says her goals only went as far as doing her best to help Team Canada. She ultimately became the team’s biggest asset, running the farthest among the Canadians and helping the crew to their third-place finish (despite terrible conditions). But how does someone fuel 43 hours of running? And how do you stay warm when it rains for 12 hours straight? Simpson walked us through her tactics. 

RELATED: Canadian results from Big’s Backyard Ultra

Simpson says she’s relatively new to running, and she did her first 10K in 2008 just after her mom passed away from cancer. “I started running when my mom was sick. After my first race, I was hooked. Before 2008, I’d only run occasionally to warm up at the gym, but I wasn’t a runner.” Since that 10K, Simpson has slowly moved up in distance. One of her biggest accomplishments was getting named to the Canadian 24-hour team for the 2019 world championships. However, now her title of Canadian champion in a Laz race probably takes the cake. 

The grocery list

Simpson says she really craved salt throughout this event. Well, salt and ginger ale. “I ate so much during the race. My rule of thumb was that I had to eat and drink something every lap. I ate burgers, waffles, pretzels, chips, candies, chocolates, McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches, coffee, ginger ale, peanut butter and jam sandwiches, bananas and fries. Really, I ate almost no healthy food for two days.” Simpson’s beverage of choice was a concoction of half ginger ale and half water with some Nuun tablets. 

The McDonald’s run was done by a parent of another competitor, and the runners ended up having a food truck come to the course, which supplied the burgers and fries. 

She ate normally in the days leading up, just a little more than usual. In the days following the event, Simpson says her appetite has been huge. “I wasn’t hungry the day after, but two days after I was starving. I’m trying to eat healthier food now, but I don’t even have a craving for fast food. I think I had enough during the race.”

Staying warm

The first 12 hours of the event were cold and rainy, so staying warm was extremely difficult. Simpson says she only brought three pairs of shoes with her. Since they became soaking wet, she decided to line them with plastic bags in an attempt to keep her feet warm. She also padded her bra with napkins, trying to add a layer between her wet sports bra and her skin. “I don’t think I’ve ever been that cold in my entire life. I was trying to run faster just to get warm.”

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