KAWARTHA LAKES-He didn’t set out to be an ultramarathoner. Russell Lavis started running as a way to improve his mental health.
“It started very normally,” Lavis told Kawartha 411 News. “In 2018 I was going through some struggles and my friend suggested I start running, he found it therapeutic and he thought it would help me.”
28-year-old Lavis says he started out with a 5k run and he noticed it improved his mood.
“Then I went to a 10k, it was incredibly difficult, I almost gave up. But once I finished it I felt something about myself I’ve never felt before and began to wonder what more I could achieve.”
Four years later his achievements are adding up.
In the last three years, he has completed 18 marathons and 18 ultramarathons. This last year he took part in the Haliburton Forest ultramarathon 50-mile event.
“It was a life-changing experience for me, I was shocked I was able to do it. I had always been a flat runner, trail running is very different. Once I realized I could finish a tough event like Haliburton, I decided to try this.”
“This” is the Fat Dog 120. He’s signed up for what is described as one of the nine toughest ultramarathons in the world this summer. A challenging point to point race that straddles three provincial parks in the Cascade Mountains of British Columbia. It’s just short of Everest for elevation gain; Fat Dog 120 mile is 8682 metres, Everest is 8848 metres.
Lavis says at one point his mom suggested he use his passion for running to help others. He has used his training to raise funds and awareness for organizations such as Sick Kids Hospital, World Vision, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East and Bereaved Families of Ontario.
Next Saturday, April 16th Lavis is going to run 42.2 km up and down the Louisa Street hill in Fenelon Falls to prepare for the elevation of the Fat Dog 120 and raise money for local food banks.
“I’ve always been a huge believer in supporting and translating my running into something that’s much bigger than me. It’s very gratifying.”
He’s hoping to raise $5,000 for Food For Kids, City of Kawartha Lakes.
“Young people need as much support as they can possibly get given the pandemic, emotionally and financially. I’m doing all I can to help.”
To donate you can send a donation to Food For Kids City of Kawartha Lakes, c/o HKPR District Health Unit, 108 Angeline Street S, Lindsay, K9V 3L5
Lavis is also in need of donations of Gatorade and water on the day of the run. He will begin at 6 am on April 16th.
Good Luck Russell!