Home > Trail Running

From sleepless nights to Barkley Marathons glory: Canada’s Ihor Verys chats about his journey

"When I first came to Canada, I worked evenings and nights to afford tuition and I lived on naps. Who knew it would help me as an ultrarunner years later?" says Verys

Ihor CDR 2023 Photo by: Ihor Verys

March 22 marked a historic date in the world of Canadian ultra-trail running, as Ihor Verys of Chilliwack, B.C., became the first Canadian to finish the Barkley Marathons. Verys was one of five finishers of the 100+ mile event and one of only 20 finishers in the race’s 38-year history.

Verys sat down with Canadian Running’s The Shakeout Podcast host David Stol to chat about the Barkley Marathons and his unfamiliar journey into ultra-trail running.

Ihor Verys becomes first Canadian to finish Barkley Marathons

The Barkley Marathons is known as one of the toughest races in the world. Participants run five 20+ mile loops on an insanely technical course while collecting pages from books located on the course, within 60 hours. They are not allowed to use GPS, just old-school maps, a compass and the wilderness.

Verys completed the five-loop course in 58 hours, 44 minutes, and 59 seconds, emerging as the first of five finishers. The 29-year-old mentioned on the podcast that years of preparation went into his accomplishment, including his early days in Canada in 2015, when he was fighting sleep deprivation to make a living. “When I first came to Canada, I was a student. I worked evenings and nights to afford tuition, and went to school during the day,” said Verys on the podcast. “I lived on naps, and little did I know it would help me as an ultrarunner years later.”

While many people find their way into running, graduating from roads to trails and gradually moving up in distance, for Verys, ultra-trail running seemed to find him. “I was never good at track or cross country, but running was one of the cheapest sports to get into when I came to Canada,” said Verys.

Ihor Verys
Ihor Verys Photo: Brice Ferre

He won the first race he signed up for, and ran a few half-marathons and marathons. When the pandemic hit, Verys was looking for places to run and socially distance himself, leading him to transition to trail running. “I discovered ultra distances there, and I got hooked,” Verys said. “I fell in love with the feeling of going the distance and chasing the impossible.”

In top-secret Barkley fashion, Verys does not know what the future holds, but he has aspirations to run ultra races in every Canadian province. “Canadian races are always in the shade [compared to larger American races],” said Verys. “I want to change that to keep growing the trail scene in Canada.”

For the full interview with Canadian ultra-trail running star Ihor Verys, tune in to this week’s episode of The Shakeout Podcast.

Check out the latest buyer's guide:

Top 10 shoes our testers are loving in June

We tested tons of great shoes this year, but only the very best make the list