Meet Hailey Van Dyk, a new athlete ambassador

hammercanada January 13, 2015 No Comments
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Dance party on ochre mountain, Athelney pass

 

I can picture myself so vividly, standing there with my arms crossed, wearing a baggy old Tshirt and frog pyjamas pants. The dreadful 2400m lay ahead of me in grade 11 gym class. Running was my absolute least favourite thing, actually essentially all of gym class was my least favourite thing. I finished the 2400m in 18:36.

I don’t exactly remember what changed in me but something did. It was most likely a combination of many things: I didn’t want to feel tired all the time anymore, a few of my friends were starting to run, I got a job at coast mountain sports where all my co-workers did something active, my brother broke his neck and could no longer walk and I felt I needed to start living more vibrantly.

I started slow with a goal of running a 4km trail loop by my house non-stop. When I first started I couldn’t even run for a minute without being drenched in sweat and out of breath. But I stuck with it, inspired by the little tastes of freedom I was sampling, lost in the woods, by myself. It was my time to spend it how I pleased, and suddenly I found my favourite thing was suffering for half an hour. When I accomplished my first lap non-stop, I went for 2 laps. Shortly I was running nearly every day and was starting to dream of bigger goals. I started hiking with friends from work. I’ll never forget the first time I trudged up the Squamish chief. The never ending up tried to steal my strength and breath but I pushed on. I’ll never forget that first summit. I was hooked and I wasn’t looking back.

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Athelney pass. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been

 

In September 2011 I ran my first half marathon. I was grossly under trained as I never ran with a gps or watch of any kind, had no concept of distance and never knew how far I was actually running. As I crossed the finish line I told myself I was NEVER running again.

In January of 2012 I nearly broke my foot and ankle downhill skiing. I was unable to weight bare for 6 weeks and I got major cabin fever. It was then that I realized that I was truly hooked. I signed up for my first trail marathon, set for my 23rd birthday in Whitehorse, Yukon! I finished the race in my goal time. It was a tough marathon with plenty of up. When I crossed the finish line a friend said to me, if you can run that marathon, you can run anything.

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Panorama ridge, garabaldi park

 

I started running with my friend Courtney more and soon the idea for run like a girl was born. We started it as a way to share our journey with others, and reach out to other like-minded people. We soon met Dayna and she introduced us to trail running on the north shore and at Buntzen Lake. Trail running became my escape, a way to get away from my busy schedule, a way to immerse myself in nature. Due to being a shift worker, I found myself having to run a lot alone, with my pup Charlie. I also started hiking more, finding myself on amazing summits, in pristine places, immersed in nature. I found mountain biking as well. A sport they crippled me with fear but challenged me and thrilled me. The more time I could spend outside, the better I felt, the happier I became.

I signed up for my first 50km in the summer of 2013 in Squamish. Training for this race pushed my limits tremendously. Back to back long runs, 4-5 training runs a week, out in the elements. I was doing something I never thought I would. I was out there running, training, pushing myself to my brink and loving it.

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My first expedition race, South Africa

 

The three of us decided to sign up for the Coastal Challenge, a 6 day stage race in Costa Rica in February of 2014. The thought of running 6 days in a row, essentially a marathon a day, in the heat of Costa Rica seemed impossible. But I trained all winter, and hard. When I arrived at the start line of day 1 I had no idea what to expect. Those 6 days changed my life forever. When I crossed the finish line on day 6 I couldn’t believe what I had just achieved. I proved to myself that anything was possible and that even you think you have nothing left, you can push through. You are stronger than the task ahead of you. I met my now fiancé at this race and he opened my eyes to expedition racing.

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Run like a girl, finish line at the coastal challenge

 

I signed up for expedition Africa, a 500km adventure race through rural South Africa on a team with 3 strangers. Hammer Canada sponsored me for the race and it was a perfect opportunity to try out the various race foods and didn’t upset my stomach. Expedition racing pushes you farther than any other sport I know. You have to just keep moving, through the day and night. And you have a team with you so any decision you make, affects 3 other people. I love how there is different sports all in one race and how your soul focus for a week is the most basic instincts, eating, drinking, resting when you can and moving forward.

For 2015 I plan on racing expedition Brazil as well as my first 50 miler. I am incredibly humbled to be chosen as a hammer Canada athlete and I can’t wait to represent nutrition I stand behind. I can’t wait to continue to push my limits this and tackle new challenges, because if you can dream it, I believe you can do it.

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Charlie and I. Photo credit: Brice Ferre photography

 

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