Following in the footsteps of his father, Ferg, Semiahmoo Peninsula runner Carter Hawke, 30, has been having success on the ultramarathon circuit. (Bill Hawke photo)

Ultramarathon runner Carter Hawke follows in father’s footsteps

Semiahmoo Peninsula resident fresh from a third-place finish at Whistler Alpine Meadows event

When Carter Hawke was 15 years old, he would run for stretches alongside his dad, Ferg, as the elder Hawke completed the gruelling Badwater Ultramarathon – billed as the world’s most difficult footrace – in the blistering summer heat of Death Valley, Calif.

Seeing firsthand what his father was dealing with – extreme fatigue, sunburn, toenails tearing off and shoes with soles so hot that they literally melt after miles of pounding the hot pavement – one would think young Carter would want nothing to do with ultra-marathon running, in which competitors run courses that range from 75 km to, in the case of Badwater, more than 200.

Fast forward a decade and a half, however, and it’s clear that whatever he witnessed growing up did very little to scare him off the trail. In fact, being in that world – around people pushing their bodies to their absolute limits – only served to motivate him.

Like father, like son.

Last month, Carter, now 30, competed in the three-day Whistler Alpine Meadows ‘Triple Wammy’ event, which began with an ascent run – from the base of Blackcomb Mountain to the top of the gondola – and continued with a 25-km trail race the following day, and wrapped with a 55-km slog through the hilly Whistler-area terrain.

“It keeps getting longer, keeps getting worse,” he laughed, when asked to describe the weekend race series.

He finished third overall.

It was the younger Hawke’s second go at the Alpine Meadows event; last year, he competed in the one-day 110-km event. He chose the three-day event this year after a foot injury curtailed his usual summer training schedule.

“I didn’t think I’d be prepared enough for the 110,” he explained.

A casual runner for years, it wasn’t until the last three or four that Carter began moving toward ultra-marathon distances.

And good son that he is, he doesn’t even blame his dad – not exactly – for his relatively new interest.

“I wouldn’t say that him doing it is exactly why I started, but with him doing these races throughout my childhood, I was exposed to it and kind of understood it,” Carter said.

“I don’t think (watching my dad) dissuaded me at all, and he didn’t try to stop me. It’s hard to rationalize, I guess, but the more you’re around these ultra-marathon people – not just my dad, but others, too – the more you realize that they’re not superhuman. It’s feasible for the average person to do, which I think makes it interesting.”

Though he’s now completed a handful of races over 100 km – including one last year in Quebec – Carter didn’t start out with such long runs. First, he ran a half-marathon, and he eventually progressed to 50-km events and beyond.

“I did fairly well in a 50K, and then it just grows and you want to do better, and I’m a competitive person,” he explained.

“Incrementally, you just start getting stupider.”

However “stupid” he may jokingly claim to be, Carter said the Badwater Ultramarathon – which Ferg completed twice, in 2004 and ’05 – is not something that is on his running radar, calling it “at another level” compared to most other ultra races. In ’04, Ferg finished second overall, crossing the finish line 27 hours after he started.

For his part, Ferg – who still owns the Badwater record for best finish by a Canadian competitor – takes his son’s feelings toward Badwater as a sign of good parenting.

“I do like that whenever someone asks him, ‘Are you going to do Badwater like your dad?’ he says, ‘Uh, no.’ So I think I raised him right. That’s probably a good decision,” he laughed.

“He could do it, and he’s certainly got the ability to break my record, but there’s just so many other cool races out there to do. Watching me (while he was) growing up, I think the seed was planted, but I’m glad he’s got a little more sense than I ever had.”

One area where the two differ, Ferg notes, is that Carter prefers mountainous trail runs, as opposed to the long, hot mostly-pavement routes of events such as Badwater. Among his accomplishments, Ferg has also competed in the Marathon des Sables, a stage race in the Sahara Desert.

Though he’s mostly done with competitive races – he did sign up for this year’s Chuckanut 50K race in Washington before pulling out due to a hamstring injury – Ferg still runs, and said he enjoys being able to share his hobby with Carter, even if Carter and his usual running mates are pulling away in the speed department.

“Luckily, I’ve been fairly injury-free and at my age, sneaking up on 62 here, I’m still able to do it. Our gap (in speed) is getting bigger and bigger, but we’re still able to get out there and do the same trails, so it’s a unique experience, for sure,” he said.

A few years ago, the pair – along with a friend of Carter’s – travelled to Arizona to run the Grand Canyon, on a route known as the rim-to-rim-to-rim double crossing.

“We started together and ran the first four or five miles together, but Carter was running with his buddy – another quick, young guy – so I told them, ‘Don’t wait for me. I’ll just meet you on the other side, and if I don’t come up after daylight, start looking for me.’

“So they took off and ripped it, and I survived. But it was just awesome to do the same run together.”

When race days come around, Carter said he’s lucky to have his dad in his corner, lending a hand where he can, either with pre-race advice or working as part of his support crew. In fact, Carter said last month’s Whistler event was the first of his ultra-marathon races that his dad had missed.

“A lot of it is learning. In these long ultras, half the battle is nutrition and hydration and how to train properly, and I had that knowledge already from watching my dad, so I had an advantage there because there’s a learning curve for people who are new to the sport,” Carter said.

One highlight for Ferg was helping his son at last year’s Quebec race.

“What was really cool was I was crewing for him, and the last 20 km, I was able to pace him. So I got to run alongside him, encourage him and push him to the finish,” he said. “It’s just kind of come full circle because 12, 15 years ago, he was doing those same things for me.

“It was a really cool moment.”



sports@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Ferg Hawke (left) helps his son, Carter, during a race. (Bill Hawke photo)

Just Posted

After delay, ‘Metro Vancouver’s Largest Indoor Amusement Park’ set to open in Surrey

At Central City Fun Park, ‘things will be a little different than what we had originally planned’

Clover Valley Beer Festival cancelled

Cloverdale beer fest falls victim to COVID-19

‘I’m confident that we’ll somehow make it happen,’ says Surrey Eagles owner as BCHL mulls plans to return

Junior ‘A’ hockey league pondering different return-to-play scenarios for 2020-‘21 season

In ‘landmark move,’ Surrey Pride party goes online for the event’s 21st anniversary

‘We have the ‘honour’ of being the first large city to put on a virtual Pride Festival’

OUR VIEW: Someone define respect for Surrey mayor

There needs to be a reckoning over Safe Surrey Coalition twitter post

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

Golden Ears park expected to be busy the first camping weekend of season

Campgrounds expected to be full or close to full

Greater Victoria drive-thru window smashed after man receives burger without mustard

Greater Victoria Wendy’s staff call police after man allegedly rips Plexiglas barrier off window

Help the ‘Cloverdale Reporter’ continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Abbotsford Airshow launching virtual Aerospace Camp

Online S.T.E.M. open to students aged 10 to 15, starts later this summer

VIDEO: BREAKING: RCMP Emergency Response Team raid known drug house in Chilliwack

Armed officers respond to reports of shots, bring in ERT, K-9 unit and spike belt

Aldergrove man, 60, can ‘finally afford to retire’ after winning $24M in lottery

Ron Cumiskey plans to use the hefty Lotto 6/49 winnings to stay close to home and his daughters

Murder charge upgraded in George Floyd case, 3 other cops charged

Floyd’s family and protesters have repeatedly called for criminal charges against all four officers

Most Read