Tag Archives: Lucas Werger

Ultramarathoner Lucas Werger Completes His ‘Run To The Sun’

Peterborough resident Lucas Werger completed his ‘Run To The Sun’ Ultra Marathon in Maui, Hawaii on December 3rd.  In doing so, the 41 year-old has raised funds for Team Unbreakable, a charity that is dear to his own heart.   He is currently still accepting donations through his website, www.runtothesun.ca.

Lucas suffers from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a distinct mental health disorder in which a person is preoccupied with an imagined physical defect or a minor defect that others often cannot see.  It has caused him severe anxiety and depression throughout his life.  He has been on a journey since the beginning of the year to share his story, raise awareness, and begin to heal himself through running.

“The run was a success!” reports Lucas. “I went off track a bit three quarters of the way through, but the new tracks that I found gave me an experience greater than I imagined”.

Lucas scheduled to start his run at 6:00 am that Monday morning, but didn’t end up starting until close to 8:00 am, and as a result, he lost available daylight as he reached 8000′ marking his long descent of 1300′ down into the crater of the Haleakala Volcano.  And as Lucas explained via email, “Once making it to the crater floor, the sun went down, a major cloud swell came up the Koolau Gap, consumed myself and the running partner that was with me on the final leg.  It took away our visibility and we lost the trail.  After that neither of us had any idea of where the summit even was.  So the entire night was spent moving around the crater in an attempt to find anything that resembled a trail.”

“But eight hours lost in the volcano was quite an amazing experience. It could have been a bad situation, but I was in good spirits, I was carrying enough food and water, and I was aware enough to dress accordingly for the temperature drop. And luckily, I did not injure myself along the way,” he said.

The early morning hours brought a clearing, and they managed to connect onto the proper trail.  And although his pacer was cold and exhausted from the nights events, Lucas was full of excitement and energy and began his push to the top on his own.  During his final few miles, Lucas witnessed a spectacular Haleakala sunrise awakening his spirit even more, and putting the perfect finishing touch to his 24 hour adventure from the sea.  At 6:30 am he reconnected with his much relieved aid crew, who had spent 12 hours camped out a few hundred feet below the summit waiting for him.  Shortly after a joyous reunion, Lucas, completed his last mile to the Pu’u ‘Ula’ula peak of Haleakala, and standing at 10,023’ he revelled in his accomplishment.

Our congratulations to Lucas for this incredible achievement after so much training and commitment to his objective and for raising money for Team Unbreakable along the way.  If you would still like to donate go to  www.runtothesun.ca

To read his blog The Wergs, go here.

If you have been inspired by Lucas and his ultramarathon and training, you can always join the Team Unbreakable 1000 challenge and raise money and awareness for youth mental health through supporting of our charity. Run 1000Km and raise $1000 for youth mental health. There is no deadline to complete it!  All you have to do is:

  • ’Register by clicking HERE’
  • Once you are registered, you can add to your total distance completed by clicking on the ‘edit’ button, on the dropdown menu click ‘update progress’.
  • Get your friends and family to help you fundraise by clicking on ‘donate’
  • You are now ready to start running and fundraising!

 

Lucas Werger Tackles Haleakala Volcano In Journey To Mental Health Therapy – His Own Story

By Lucas Werger

 

As more and more people, including myself, acknowledge their mental health struggles, the need for positive coping strategies has become critical. One such strategy that is gaining more credit as a unique mental health therapy is the action of running. Studies have proven and recorded the benefits of running and its ability to aid in the process of rewiring the brain and creating new healthy pathways. And therapists and medical practitioners are now beginning to help guide people into mental health rehabilitation using this method.

 

https://running.competitor.com/2018/04/wellness/running-with-your-therapist_170125 (related article)

 

I am a person who has spent most of my life involved in sports, and have never been unfit. Yet it wasn’t until I began to embrace the act of running as its own entity that I discovered its power in improving my mental health. In the past year I have taken on running as therapy and it is changing my life.

 

My Disorder

 

I suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder. It’s a debilitating mental health condition that causes me to have an excessive preoccupation with non-existent or slight defects in my appearance. My mind creates a skewed visual perception of myself. I see deformities throughout my face and body, and constantly focus on my physical features that I deem to be incorrect. My mind has also created an over heightened sensory system in relation to my visual cues. So I regularly feel physical discomfort which seems to validate what I am seeing. This condition creates intense anxiety and times of depression. It has made it difficult, sometimes impossible to attend my schooling, fulfil my work responsibilities, or interact in social events. Many times I’ve been unable to leave the house, and when I do, it’s rare that I do so at the anticipated or necessary time. Being late or absent has been my trademark. And throughout the years these struggles have been kept very hidden.

As with most mental health disorders, it is extremely difficult to speak about it. Fear of being labelled, looked at differently or negatively, or rejected and made fun of can keep a mental health sufferer, such as myself, quiet. And for me, I felt embarrassed by it. I would withhold or lie about everything that I was or going through, even at the cost of making myself seem like an uncaring, lazy, or vain individual. And this only created anger and misunderstandings, contributing more to my personal pain and frustrations. Even now, as I am gaining more courage to speak out about it, trying to come up with the words for what I am experiencing is never easy.

 

www.katharinephillipsmd.com/bdd.html

 

My major problems began in high school, and since then I have had manageable times and not so manageable times. Moments of hope and moments of despair. I hit a very low point last year where my daily anxiety was so much so that it would keep me up all hours of the night crying, wishing and wanting to take my own life. Sadly, attempted suicides for individuals suffering from BDD may be as high as 25%, but fortunately for me, my strong family bond and personal willpower kept me fighting.

 

My Therapy

 

One terrible, no good, very bad night, while my anxiety began to elevate towards a full panic attack I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, laced up my shoes and ran out the door. This was not a planned workout like I had done so many times in the past when training for athletics, this was much different. I was running to escape the monster that was hijacking my mind. The alternative to not running out the door that night was not good, so I just went. This was no immediate cure, and I remember returning to the same obsessive and vulnerable state upon returning from that run. But I realized that during that time that I was out that night, I felt free from my burden. I could in fact run away from the monster at least for a short time.

Slowly my runs became more frequent and progressively longer. And I slowly began to notice more “happy times” post run. As well, the hours of this so-called “happy time” began increasing as my running schedule increased. And the wonderful thing about all of this was that it was an immediate and spontaneous action. There was no planning necessary for me, it could be done anywhere, anytime, and only at the cost of a pair of shoes. Furthermore, I did not have to interact with anyone along the way, which was normally a major concern for me. My mind could just detach and simply connect with nature around me.

After trying many different failed medications over the years, I finally was able to find one that has been relatively successful in decreasing my anxiety symptoms. Together with my running therapy I feel as though I am beginning to rewire my mind and make new positive pathways. Although I still struggle from my mental health disorder, and I know that I may never totally rid myself of it, I can now look at each new day without fear, and I am starting to imagine a successful and positive future.

 

My Run

 

At the beginning of this past spring I decided to set a year end goal of running an ultra marathon. Maybe a regular marathon would be enough (and I know for a fact that the mental health benefits of running kick in at much shorter distances), but I felt that with my athletic background and my seemingly severe condition I needed a bigger mountain to climb. And I knew the perfect one.

Enter Haleakala Volcano, Maui, Hawaii. Home to the posthumous “Run to the Sun” Ultra Marathon.

 

www.aimforawesome.com/maui-hawaii/mauis-coolest-run-to-the-sun-cancelled/

 

In 1977, two Maui teachers and cross country coaches challenged each other to run 60 km from sea to summit as a friendly bet. Upon succeeding in their gruelling challenge, the annual ultra marathon was born. And so was I. I came into this world on September 27, 1977.

Although the annual event is no longer held, I will be replicating the run with my own challenge. At 6:00 am on December 03rd, 2018 I will step into the Pacific Ocean at Ho’okipa Beach, Maui, harness the power of the sea within me and begin my journey of running to the summit of Haleakala at 10, 023 ft. (3,055 m) above sea level.

 

My Route

 

After leaving Ho’okipa Beach on the North Shore of Maui, I will briefly run West on the Hana Hwy before turning South down Holomua Road, immediately beginning my ascent to the quaint cowboy town of Makawao (Aid Station #1 @ 12.4 km (7.7mi).

From there I will continue South on Olinda Road from Makawao. I will then turn onto Hanamu Road before connecting to the #377 Haleakala Hwy. Once on the Hwy I will follow it South to the #377/ #378 Haleakala Hwy junction (Aid Station #2 @ 24.3 km (15.1 mi).

At the point I will turn East and begin my journey up the many steep switchbacks of the #378 hwy to the Haleakala National Park Summit Entrance (Aid Station #3 @ 34.6km (21.5mi).

The next section will continue along the road and consist of three longer switchbacks taking me to the Halemau’u Trailhead. (Aid Station #4 @ 41.7 km (25.9 mi).

At this point I will veer off the main route to the summit, and instead take the Halemau’u Trail heading East. This trailhead is located at 7, 990 ft. (2,435 m) and will take me towards a winding descent of approximately 1,394 feet (425 m) on rough technical terrain. Upon making my way down this cliff side I will then be running through the largest dormant volcanic crater in the world, and making my way through the lunar landscape of volcanic cinders and boulders made from Haleakala’s last summit eruptions. And I will continue along following the Halemau’u Trail to the Kapaloao Cabin on the South East edge of the crater (Aid Station #5 @ 53.6 km (33.3mi).

The final leg of my ultra run will send me West along the Keonehe’ehe’e (Sliding Sands) Trail. This last stage will be a test of my will as the trail steeply ascends approximately 3,000 ft. (914 m) over 10.1 km (6.6 mi). With crumbling stones underfoot, and a thinning oxygen level, a sprint to the finish will be highly unlikely. Puu Ulaula (Red Hill), the highest point on Haleakala will be my final destination of this run, where I will reach my final, and much needed Aid Station at 10, 023 ft. (3, 055 m).

 

Total distance covered will be 64.7 km (40.2 mi)

Total cumulative elevation gain will be approximately 11, 417 ft (3,480 m)