anne da nova
I was never really involved in sports until I met my husband in 1994, he is an adventurer who loves outdoor sports. Since then I realized I also love outdoor activities such as hiking, short distance running, mountain biking, cycling, and snowboarding. We’ve also done some great hiking in Serra do Mar - Brazil, Mount Fuji - Japan; Mount Lemmon - Arizona; and explored great trails and rock formations in The Algarve, Portugal.
I’ve never raced until 2010 and since then I’ve completed some 5km, 8km, 10km, 2 half-marathons did some sprint triathlon races.
I started to enjoy trail running because of my dog Spalding, he loves to run free on the trails and it made me feel more confident being out there.
I love nature! There is so much out there waiting for me to explore, such as beaches, parks, trails, mountains.
My journey to ultras really started with a love for travel.
I have great memories of family trips as a kid. The one that stands out the most is when my parents surprised me with a trip to the Rockies for my ninth birthday. I didn’t find out we were leaving until a few hours before and it was my first time on an airplane!
I was not an athletic kid. Gym class terrified me. I would rather read a book then kick a ball. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I ‘grew up.’ My family encouraged me to figure out my passion and follow it. The only thing that I was passionate about was travel. I studied Travel & Tourism in College and worked in the field for over 12 years.
My future husband was the most athletic person I knew and he was always challenging me to try new things. Especially athletic endeavors. Not wanting to disappoint him, I did try – tennis, white-water rafting, cycling and it wasn’t so bad! But I still preferred to be the cheerleader not the athlete until…
When my (now) husband decided to sign up for his first marathon in Toronto, I stood at the finish line for over 4 hours and as I waited, I saw people of all ages, shapes and sizes, cross. It took me by surprise, after all, don’t you have to be an ‘athlete’ to run a marathon? At that moment, I decided that I could either wait at the finish line for him (and I knew there would be many more races to come) or start running myself and we could share the moment together.
I quickly learned that the euphoria of crossing a finish line was the same feeling I had as a nine-year kid on an airplane!
Combining my love for running with my passion for travel has been an amazing journey across the globe. One that will never really end…so many races, so many places to explore!
I grew up practicing sports: gymnastics, volleyball, various martial arts, and boxing. Yet, I've only started running in 2005 after signing up for half-marathon on the Friday before the race and without any training. Needless to say, walking was a little challenging in the days following the race. But, after finishing my first race, something clicked within myself and I've been running ever since.
It wasn't long before I've started drifting toward other endurance sports. And, after spending a couples years doing long-distance Triathlons, I finally discovered Trail Running. I immediately fell in love with the ultra distances and have spent the last three years running trails around North America.
Like most ultra trail runner, big races like the UTMB and The Western States are my long term goals. Still, for now, I continue to challenge myself while slowly increasing my race distance until, one day, I hope to feel ready to toe the line for my first 100-Mile race.
About 20 years ago while watching Eco-Challenge* eating chips and drinking beer I said to my wife, “Check out these losers crying as they cross the finish line, what a bunch of babies.” She turns to me and says, “I would like to see you do that.”
Never one to turn down a challenge, that’s exactly what I did. I rallied a couple of friends and the next thing you know I was standing on the start line of my very first endurance race.
Now I figured this would be a piece of cake, I was a relatively healthy 30-year-old and played sports most of my life. WRONG! I ended up bonking (I had never heard this word going into the race but I sure learned quickly what it meant – and felt like!) and my buddies had to carry me the rest of the way to the finish line
That was a huge wake up call for me. I read all I could about training, diet and exercise. After a few years of Adventure Racing, I decided to call it quits and focus on just running. My very first road race was a half marathon and that led to the full marathon.
Then I met a friend who introduced me to trail running. He was training for the Canadian Death Race (125km) in Alberta and it didn’t take much to convince me to join him. That was my first ultra and I was hooked. I realized that the longer the distance, the stronger I became.
I enjoyed it so much that I decided to take on the Leadville 100 miler in 2010, thanks to the book Born to Run. Boy was I was in for a rude awakening. My first DNF.
While I never gave up trail running, I decided to challenge myself again and give triathlon a try. I signed up for a full Ironman without ever doing a single triathlon. Go big or go home.
In 2012, I completed my first Ironman (Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Canada) and realized when I crossed the finish line that I still had so much gas left in me.
That DNF in Leadville was a tough pill to swallow but I was able to get the monkey off my back and complete the 100 miler in 2014.
I have been racing the ultra-distance ever since. I especially love racing in new destinations – it’s the best way to explore and learn about cultures!
*Eco-Challenge was a multi-day, multi-discipline, relay race that took teams across a rugged landscape. It was produced by Survivor’s Mark Burnett and is making a comeback this Fall in Fiji.