Running 100 kilometres through the woods in a single day may sound like torture, but a number of local runners call it fun. 

Suffer on Centennial was this past Saturday. The event includes a number of races on the Centennial Trail system with distances ranging from 8 kilometres to 100 kilometres.  

A few of local runners took part in the 100 kilometre event including Brent Manke. He notes there is a reason why “Suffer” is in the title, adding “there's always some element of suffering whether it's self-imposed or whether the conditions bring that about.” 

Manke says the 100 kilometre race took runners from Rennie to McGilvery Falls, past West Hawk, then down to Falcon Lake where they did a loop and ended at Falcon Trails Resort. Though the 100k race is new this year, Suffer on Centennial is an annual event and hundreds of runners participated this time around. 

“We have a really great running community and trail running community in Manitoba. We have a few people who saw some potential for, 'hey, we could have some fun and get the community together to run on these trails', so it's been a great, evolving story as the race directors have dreamt and put things together.” 

Manke was says he was able to finish the race in around 13.5 hours. 

the backs of two men as they run away from the camera down a wooded trailMike Thiessen and Devyn Bartel run down the trail as light fades. Photo credit Christopher Schroeder.

Mike Thiessen also ran the 100k race with his friend and fellow Steinbacher Devyn Bartel. Thiessen says in 2023 they got lucky with warm sunny weather, but conditions were more than challenging this year. 

“It was tough, there's a lot of rock and a lot of Canadian Shield that we get to run on that's tough and slippery when it is wet. There were a lot of boggy areas that were really wet with all the rain, but then we got some good portions as well where there was some dry stuff. All in all, it's such a beautiful area that we get to run through and that is definitely the big joy in it." 

Laughing, Bartel agrees, noting there were times when he thought he was entering the swimming portion of a triathlon. 

“There was one bad step I took, I think on a quad trail, and I was up to my waist in one spot. I'm pretty sure Bear Lake, the hiking trail itself was closed. They opened it for us, for the runners because we're dumb.” 

Both Thiessen and Bartel finished the race in just under 16 hours. Bartel says the cut-off was midnight and his 30th birthday was Sunday, so he needed to finish before his birthday. 

Meanwhile, Mike Thiessen’s daughter Kaybrie says she ran the 8 kilometre race with her aunt. She notes she has done some cross-country running in the past as well as track, but this was a different story. 

“I finished just under an hour, I didn't really have a certain time limit I wanted to do, I just wanted to run it and finish it. You had to walk a lot, I wanted to run more, but because it was so slippery and there were so many rocks, you had to walk. My whole legs got all full of mud.” 

Though it may seem crazy, Bartel explains why he participates in super long distance, challenging races like this.  

“To me, running gives you lots of good life lessons, you're going to face many challenges in life and the best thing is just to keep going. Also, the discipline, what I love about this is when you get to the race, you're 99% done. My journey started January 1st when I started training and the sacrifices of my sleep and the commitment you have to put in, just the discipline is kind of what keeps me going with it.” 

He adds, the joy of crossing the finish line also helps.  

Manke agrees, adding “It was a goal for a long time, so it was really fun to accomplish it and have family there and friends to help celebrate that as well.”