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Trail running after 40: Eric Côté

At 47 years old, Eric Côté rediscovered being a kid again through trail running

Eric Côté was 47 years old when he rediscovered the fun of being a kid. Côté had just started road running three years earlier, when the idea of further exploration sparked his interest. As he started exploring the trails near his home in Sherbrooke, Que. he felt inspired to run longer distances. Before turning 50 last summer, he completed his first 100 mile race at the Badlands Ultra in North Dakota. Trail running makes the 50-year-old feel “like a kid again.”

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Photo: Eric Côté

Motivation in the mountains

At the age of 50, he is just getting started in the world of trail running. He prefers distances that keep him in the mountains for half a day or longer. 50K training runs or races are his favourite. “Exploring is what motivates me. I love the mountains.” 

Training schedule

As a husband, father of three, and an osteopath Côté realized it wasn’t always possible to train for multiple days. “So why not cover 50K on the same day?” These days, Côté practises consistency in his training. He runs “five or six days a week, sometimes twice a day. I’m not fast, but I love running. On weekdays, I’m usually on roads and my weekends are in the mountains.”

Photo: Eric Côté

The highs and lows

When Côté ran his first 100-mile race last summer, he hit a low point while running from 50K to 80K. “I was in a downward spiral into the abyss. The heat was exhausting and eating was tough. After the 82K aid station, my fifteen-year-old daughter paced me for 12K. We saw the sunset, then the moonrise over the badlands. It was not only my best running memory, but one of the best times of my life. After that 12K I was pumped and the rest of the race was great.”

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Côté suggests just getting out there and giving it a try. “Start with a short run. Ask a friend to show you the trails. Chances are good you might feel 30 years younger, and run down a mountain screaming Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

“Getting old is a mental thing. I think it’s important to get out of my comfort zone. We grow soft with age. Overcoming all the problems you encounter during a race or a long run makes me feel alive. I also try to show my kids that anything is possible. Their father who was 50 pounds overweight six years ago, ran for 106 miles last summer.”

Photo: Eric Côté

What’s next

After his 100 mile race for his 50th birthday, Côté decided not to plan any other major events for a while. “I don’t plan to go longer than that at the moment, but you never know. My goal is still to explore the outdoors while running. My wife Edith (also an ultrarunner) and I usually choose races in areas we don’t know, so we can discover new places in a fun way. We both have a long thru-hike on our bucket list. The Colorado Trail is calling me.”

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Learn more about Eric Côté and his adventures here.