In early October (2021), Näak Ambassador Marc-Antoine Forand crossed the finish line with an amazing time of 23:22:55 to take 2nd place in the annual Bromont Ultra. This annual race, hosted in Bromont, Quebec, sees over 2000 participants spread out over 8 different distances. Marc's win was more than just a personal victory. It was also a victory for his family and friends. The ones who supported him and gave him the energy and inspiration to keep pushing forward.
This week, we talked to Marc about his experience at Bromont Ultra. He gave us an inside look at his mindset, nutritional strategy, and the reason why he has been pushing himself to such great heights.
The first feeling I had (when crossing the finish line) was obviously pride. Several months of work, food, training. I was certainly scared because my last race had not been as planned (DNF - UTHC125). When I passed the finish line with my girlfriend (who followed me the whole race) in the morning, I immediately felt a sense of accomplishment and pride for me, but for Noah, my son. He's the one who pushes me every time. ~ Marc-Antoine Forand.
Photo courtesy of Alysson Gallant
Preparing For Bromont Ultra 160km
Every year since 2014, volunteers have organized and run this inspiring event. This race is described by Canadian Running Magazine as "The toughest trail race east of the Rockies." It's also a true quad-burner, where competitors climb or descend for a large portion of their race. The 160km race, which involves doing the 80km course twice, includes more than 7000 m of vertical drop. The ability to push yourself through a challenging 80km course and then get back up and do it again is nothing short of miraculous. As Marc described his mindset before the race, we could not believe it was anything less than intimidating:
A double of the 80km, mentally it's something to say; ok I have to come back here overnight (to run the loop again). It must be well managed because some sections are really not obvious at night. You also have to manage the first 15 Kilometers well, because you go up and down the mountain 3 times. You don’t want to get blown up early on.
Photo courtesy of Caroline Côté
Marc’s Fuel Choices
You need a superior, predetermined nutrition plan to compete at an elite level and push your body for 160 km. Our team was thrilled to help Marc-Antoine achieve his goals and provide the fuel to fire him across the finish line. In talking about his nutrition for the Bromont Ultra, he explained how he fuels mid-race and what he treats himself to afterwards:
I took 1 Näak Ultra Energy Bar per hour for about 8 hours, then I took the Ultra Energy Waffles. At the 95km mark, I took a Näak Ultra Recovery protein shake. Then, my secret weapon is avocado sushi with a ton of soy sauce! I drink a 1x 500mL soft flask per hour with electro and 1x 500 mL water only. My dear friend, François Gagnon, is a chef and who also runs ultras. He prepares solid meals for me to measure. I'm vegan, and I have done several tests with him to find what works well.
This sort of detailed meal plan is paramount for completing a successful ultra. It's also vital to get some solid food in your system for longer races. Exercise-induced hyponatremia, which is a low sodium concentration in your blood, can occur if you get all of your nutrition from liquids when you are going for something like a 24-hour ultra. For more detailed tips on fueling for a marathon, read our detailed GUIDE.
The Why That Drives Marc
Each of us has a drive that propels us across the finish line at an ultramarathon or even through the trails in our backyard. This drive is different for everyone, and for Marc, it was the birth of his son Noah. Noah was born with an extra chromosome, a condition known as Down syndrome. While his condition was initially difficult to cope with, Marc eventually discovered the healing properties of running and pushing his body as far as it could go.
I started running shortly after Noah's birth. I run to think, or to stop thinking. I run to find his inner compass and to calm my anxiety. The distances have grown as the years have gone by. But during the pandemic, my races were cancelled one after another. I got the idea: I would run for Noah. My plan was to run for 21 consecutive hours on June 21st, the summer solstice, and raise money for Regroupement pour la Trisomie 21.
In 2021, for the second edition, I ran 250 km through the mountains. My girlfriend and I initially hoped to raise $400, but word spread and people's hearts were touched. In the end, We donated over $25,000 to the organization.
It has become a driving force for me. It's really fun to push my limits year after year, to build a challenge from A to Z as I want. I can't wait to #courirpournoah 2022! It's so beautiful to see what happens with running for Noah. Everyone who joins, gives, writes to us. It is very emotional.
Photo courtesy of Fred Tougas
The philosophy Marc has taken towards his running career is truly something to be admired. The passion and spirit he holds is something we can all learn from and use to re-ignite our love for the sport. If you’re not up for running an ultra quite yet, you can always take the same passion and apply it to your next trail-run. Suppose you’ve experienced the burden of obstacles in your life, self-induced or inflicted by others. In that case, we suggest taking a note from him on limitations.
There are no limits that exist, only our brains that limit us. The human body is fascinating; it is strong, it adapts to almost everything. I would also like to say that what matters is not the number of kilometres but only the fact of doing more every day. I like to say: 1% better every day. Push our limits slowly, and when the weeks go by and we look behind, we realize all the work we have done.
Photo courtesy of Alysson Gallant
To Support Marc-Antoine Forand, follow him on Instagram @ma_forand, or tag your next running photos with #courirpournoah, or #runfornoah. To make a donation to Regroupement pour la Trisomie 21 CLICK HERE.