Red Deer teacher Anna Duda ran 50 miles on a hobby horse while competing in an ultra-marathon in British Columbia last weekend.
Duda, 46, said riding the hobby horse in the Golden Ultra wasn’t as weird as she expected.
“When we got to the start line I thought people would look at me like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ But it was actually fun. I’m one of those people who enjoys doing stuff like that,” said Duda, who teaches at St. Patrick’s Community School, but lives in Delburne.
Duda finished the ultra-marathon in 10 hours, 41 minute and 15 seconds – good for 119th overall.
A friend from Calgary talked Duda into running the race on a hobby horse, she said.
“We played it up out there. We talked to our horses, made horse sounds. It was a ton of fun,” she said. “I’ve had a great running season and thought this would be fun to just chill with friends and see a beautiful course.”
Don’t let the hobby horse fool you, Duda is one of the top female ultra-marathon runners in Alberta.
Duda has competed in ultra-marathons since 2009 and said this was her biggest year so far.
Her goal at the start of the season was to complete the Alberta Ultra Series, for which she had to run a 100K and two 100-mile ultra-marathons.
She was the top woman and seventh overall runner at the Blackfoot Ultra 100K near Edmonton in May.
Then in July she was the third best woman and 23rd overall at the 100-mile Sinister Seven Ultra. Only 47 runners finished that ultra-marathon, Duda added.
Her biggest focus this season was the 100-mile Lost Soul Ultra in Lethbridge in early September. It was about 30 C and there was heavy smoke due to the nearby wildfires, but despite all that, Duda finished first among women and third overall.
“That was my biggest accomplishment,” she said. “There was some really strong competition at that one so I knew trying to podium would be tough.”
It’s only been about a year since Duda has run the 100-mile ultra-marathons. The runs are always amazing experiences, she said.
“There’s this serenity, stress-free freedom being out in nature. I enjoy being alone or being with people of same mind,” she said.