Training for a five-hour Toronto Marathon.

Local walker-runner Bob Hardy keeps us up to date on his latest activities. This week, Bob writes about a recent speaking engagement.

“The event of the week was my “Motivational, Musical Madness” speaking event at The Running Room, Orleans on Thursday, July 26. Why the Running Room Presentation? So many Running  Room members raced with me at the Tamarack, Ottawa Race Weekend (Ottawa Marathon) and were impressed with my performance, especially those I overtook, that after the race they contacted me and asked  if I could speak at The Running Room, Orleans.

We finally settled on a date of July, 26th. The Motivational, Musical Madness presentation covers marathon racing, writing and the health problems that plagued me for the last 20 years and features music from The Fifth Day Suite, including Asterial Plane, semi finalist, 2016 International Song Writing Competition.

Everything seemed to be perfect for the event, the only concern was space.  Around 70 had confirmed they would be attending. The CTV News feature, “Meet the Walker Runner of Alexandria” had aired on Monday, July 23rd  and more or less everyone in the Ottawa area had seen the interview.

Motivational, Musical Madness. The presentation is around 45 minutes in length, followed by questions and answers. We started at 6.10 pm to allow more time for those in the traffic to arrive. Throughout the presentation more arrived. I would guestimate that by the end there were 25-30 in attendance.

Ironically, the presentation opens with: My name is Bob Hardy, the Walker Runner. I race a walker because I lost my balance after two blood clots, three surgeries and three months in hospital and could no longer race a bicycle. In the last five years I have completed three Full, 42.2-km marathons, ten half marathons and four 10-km races. Despite health issues I’m fitter, faster and much lighter. My 2018 Ottawa Marathon time was 5 hrs, 27 minutes, 61 minutes faster than 2016. My next full marathon is the Toronto Marathon on 21st October which I expect to finish in 5 hours. How?  The new 35-km time trials combined with modified nutrition, hydration and planned bathroom stops.

Walker racing was the end of a catastrophic period in my life: To quote “Homer”, not the Greek Poet fellow,  the other one, “If I didn’t have bad luck I’d have no luck at all”

My sports before walker racing: Bicycle racing and marathons. In 2009 I had a total hip replacement. I was on crutches for 17 months, 12 months before surgery and 5 months after. In October 2012 the bicycle racing stopped because of a blood clot on my intestine, followed by three surgeries, three months in hospital and a second clot in January 2013. No balance. No bicycle racing. Sold the bike.

Before the bicycle I was racing an IV pole on the fifth floor of the Ottawa General Hospital to stay sane and stay alive. Before the IV pole racing my sport was Jiu-Jitsu which was spoiled  but not stopped by leukaemia because I made it all the way to Black Belt.

Not just sport, music as well: Fifth Day Suite. Recorded in Prague  2008 by Prague Radio Symphony and Czech Philharmonic. Released by ERM Media in 2009. Distributed worldwide by NAXOS. ERM Media went bankrupt in 2010 after their Musical Director, Robert Ian Winston died. The Fifth Day Suite was Premiered, May 13th 2010 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts by the Toronto Philharmonia, conducted by Kerry Stratton. The orchestra was bankrupt at the time of the performance. The performance was excellent and the full house loved the music and the performance. A very professional group of musicians.

Even my day job:Recovering from Leukaemia and getting back to work. I had a new project working in die casting with salary increase and more benefits. In 2008 my hip stopped working and the company was sold, so I took an early retirement. In 2009 my hip was replaced. In 2010 I started work as a sales agent and built a new industrial business until 2012 when I lost my balance and could no longer work in Industry.

It was ironic that on the night of the speaking project I had been working on for over a year the show was almost stopped by a rolled over truck.

The audience were attentive and obviously impressed. Most of those in attendance had raced with me in the Ottawa Marathon and were not shy to admit I had overtaken them. One fellow was surprised I had overtaking him twice. What happened?   I  stopped around the 30-km mark because I needed a sugar and caffeine shock to see me through the last 12.2-km and  my “surgerated” stomach needed a short break before continuing. The last 12.2-km was a struggle but the sugar/caffeine shock allowed me to maintain the same speed and overtake the gentleman in question.

There were plenty of questions because the audience consisted of either walkers or runners. I received compliments on the musical excerpts from the “Fifth Day Suite” . My attire was, of course, running shorts and my HUGO walker racing shirt showing off my “surgerated” stomach. The presentation concluded with a standing ovation and lots more conversation. The conversation continued until time for the evening run which I didn’t participate in.

What’s next? An encore presentation without drama. No overturned trucks, tornadoes, snow storms or ????

 Bucket list 2018: To qualify for the Boston Marathon racing my walker. To perform and record “Fifth Day SuiteSon et lumière” as a multimedia production featuring live orchestra performance. Before my 70th birthday, not to die before my 70th birthday.

Race Walking is an Olympic Sport, Walker Racing is not YET


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