Where are They Now? Doug Howson of Cavan Places 3rd in Canadian Death Race

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Karen Graham

Growing up on Syer Line, Doug was an active, fun-loving child.  He played House League hockey, but was never a star athlete.  That changed soon after his wife Allison introduced him to long distance running.

Doug Howson during his visit home last week.

Doug Howson during his visit home last week. Photo: Karen Graham.

After finishing high school at Crestwood, Doug completed a Heavy Equipment program at Fleming College and like many of his friends, headed west.  There were jobs operating equipment in the oil fields of Alberta, but after a year Doug grew tired of the instability of the work as it rose and fell in tandem with the price of oil, as well as the raucous environment of the oil patch.  He found work with the local telecom company in Grande Prairie where he settled down.  While chronologically he was in his prime, Doug did not feel the part, so he took a look at his life style and decided to make some changes to improve his health.  With the encouragement of his wife Allison, he took up running.  He certainly never lacked energy and the discipline would be good for him.

After a few traditional marathons, Doug and his wife decided to participate in the most demanding “adventure” race in Canada, known as The Canadian Death Race, which takes place every August Long Weekend in Grande Cache, Alberta.  The 125 km course runs through the Rockies, passing through three mountain summits with over 17,000 feet of elevation with a significant river crossing at Hell’s Gate Canyon.  This race is not for the uninitiated.  To give a sense of the seriousness of this race, organizers have been forced to impose a minimum equipment list for the safety of participants, which includes specific clothing, fingered gloves, insulated head wear and headlights and eye protection for those who will be running the final leg of the run in the evening.

Howson at the finish line after shaving 6 1/2 hours from his previous year’s result. Photo: Supplied.

The couple tackled the course as part of a five person relay team, with each member taking one leg of the race.  After two relay races, last year Doug decided to go it alone and run a solo race.  He was pleased to finish with a time of 22:10:50 that year, but thought he could do better.  He was right…

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