Ultrarunner Matt Shepard of Valleyview, Alta., embarked on a six-day running challenge on Canada Day, and although he ran 551.2K in that time, he was unable to break the Canadian record that has stood since — wait for it —1891. The 129-year-old record was set by David Bennett, who ran 870K in six days in New York all those years ago. Ahead of his run, Shepard told CTV News that he hoped to run 1,000K before his six days were up, but he fell short of that goal and the record as well. Shepard, a member of the Personal Peak team in Alberta, ran with teammates Keeley Milne (who covered 427K in six days) and Derek Yip (who ran 322K) in what was dubbed the 6 Days in the North challenge.
6 Days in the North
Shepard has already had some big results on the ultramarathon scene, and he is better known for his win at the 2019 Outrun Backyard Ultra marathon, which was created by Dave Proctor. Over the course of the 6 Days in the North challenge, Shepard averaged 91.8K per day. When Bennett ran his record, he covered 145K every day. To reach his ultimate goal of 1,000K in the span of six days, Shepard would have needed a daily output of 166.6K.
Had Shepard made it 1,000K, he would have also set the Canadian record for the distance, which currently stands at seven days, 14 hours, 43 minutes and 37 seconds, set by Trishul Cherns (formerly of Hamilton, now living in New York City, and still racing) in 1987.
The Personal Peak team posted inspiring words following the completion of his run, writing about American ultrarunner and world record-holder Zach Bitter.”It took [Bitter] five years to reach a goal he thought was in his grasp on Day One. But he did eventually achieve it.” Shepard may have fallen short this time, but he’ll likely be back for another attempt soon.
Bennett’s six-day run is by far the longest standing Canadian ultrarunning record, with the next oldest having been run in 1986, according to the Association of Canadian Ultramarathoners record database. In 1993, Michel Careau of Quebec came agonizingly close to beating the record, running 868K, just shy of beating Bennett’s 870K mark. He couldn’t cover those final few kilometres, and so the record still stands today, and it looks like it will for at least a little longer.