Movember marathon man aims to run 24 hours straight

Student goes the distance to support men’s mental health.


It may sound a little nutty, but a third-year UAlberta pharmacy student is going to run on a treadmill in HUB Mall for 24 hours straight to support men’s mental health, the newest facet of Movember.

“As a former residence assistant in Lister Hall, I was that person people came to in times of need. It was more the mental health part of the job that I enjoyed when I worked there that pushed me to do this,” said Tyeren Deacon, who is also an ultramarathon runner.

“It’s crazy how many people go through depression.”

When running ultramarathons, or death races, Deacon said he finds a place in his subconscious where he sets aside pain and doubt and enters a trance-like state that allows him to push his body great distances. In a race in August, Deacon finished in 20th place at the Iron Legs 50 Miler after covering the nearly 86 kilometres over Moose Mountain in just over 14 hours, virtually without stopping.

“I did sit down once when someone brought me out some bacon,” said Deacon. “I thought I’d indulge.”

Well, he is only human after all, but it is that same humanity that will see him put his ability to bear hardship to Movember, which has moved beyond prostate cancer to promote awareness in testicular cancer and men’s mental health.

Deacon says he took up distance running in high school after being brought out by a friend. Without much training, Deacon found his way to the podium in the 3,000-metre race at provincials. He says he craved longer distances so he signed up for the five-kilometre cross-country jogs, which soon turned into 30-kilometre gallops, and more recently the death races.

He says the best part of these big runs is the camaraderie of the people involved. The runs themselves are more about the finish line. He says the hardest part is getting past the dread that comes after he passes the first marathon, 42 kilometres into the race.

“After grinding it out for another 10 kilometres, I get a second wind that carries me to the finish.”

As for the length of time—10 more hours than he has ever run before—Deacon isn’t overly worried.

“I don’t want downplay the run at all because treadmills suck, but the Iron Legs brags that it is the ultramarathon with the most vertical gains per kilometre travelled. You are doing a lot of scaling steep distances and it’s 27 C during the hottest part of the day.

“For this 24 hours, I’m on a flat surface, I don’t have to carry a pack and will have a team of people helping me through it.”

As for distance, Deacon says he should be able to cover 180 kilometres. Depending how he feels and if he’s close, he said he’ll keep running after the clock stops to see if he can crack the fabled 200-kilometre barrier.

“The 24 hours is the pinnacle of ultramarathon running.”

To help Deacon in his quest to raise more than $2,000 in pledges in support of Movember, go to http://mobro.co/tyeren.