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Reid Coolsaet Makes the Leap

Canada’s fifth-fastest marathoner reflects on lessons learned during his transition to the trails

It’s Monday, and most of the city of Hamilton is shut down due to the snow that’s been falling steadily since the previous night. Drug stores, coffee shops and schools are closed and most people still can’t see the end of their driveway. But Reid Coolsaet is gearing up for a run in what he calls “perfect conditions.” “As a track or even road runner, I wouldn’t have run outside today,” he says. “But for ultra-trail, you’re running slowly, so you need to train slowly. I’ve actually been meaning to do a really slow long run for a while. Today is perfect, because the conditions won’t allow me to go fast.”

Coolsaet, a 2:10 marathoner and two-time Olympian, has mentioned an interest in trail running for years, but officially (and successfully) took the plunge in summer 2021, when he ran his first ultra-trail race—Quebec Mega Trail 110K. He won, in spite of missing a turn and running about 10 km farther than the rest of the field. Since then, Coolsaet has compiled a calendar full of off-road events. In April he’ll head to The Canyons Endurance Runs 100K in Auburn, Calif., and in June, he’ll toe the line at the granddaddy of 100-milers in North America—California’s Western States Endurance Run (WSER).

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