Tyler Fakeley’s story isn’t far off from many other runners’ journeys. Yet, Tyler made the leap from 5 km runs to 50 km races. He’s an ultra marathoner with an undying passion for the sport.
Growing up, Tyler states that he was involved in many sports and always an outdoor activity of some kind. He says, “A lifetime of sports has taught me a lot about myself and others.”
He continues, “It taught me you will only get out what you put into it. Your effort will usually equal your level of success. However, life’s not always fair and that’s not always true, so I have also learned never to overestimate your abilities or underestimate the abilities of others around you. I have learned how to accept the loss and deal with all the emotions that come with failure, but more importantly, I learned how to take that negative experience and turn it into motivation.”
Tyler harnesses that motivation and uses it to try harder and to push himself further toward his goals – one of which involves finishing in the top 50% of his age group in the Spartan World Championships in Lake Tahoe this September.
In fact, his ultra marathon career began with a few Spartan races. He elaborates, “From talking to other runners and from reading online, I found most of the top athletes (in the Spartan races) were long-distance runners, so I started training and registering in races for longer and longer distances.” Eventually, these distances amounted to over 50 km at a time.
But Tyler is a family man at heart. His favorite memory throughout his running successes involves competing with his son, Anthony. He adds, “My other two children still aren’t old enough to race the same events as me – yet. But I hope one day I can run with them.”
He also states that he’s proud that each of his kids has found the same passion for sports that he has. He says, “My oldest son, Anthony, just competed in his first ultra marathon with me this past Father’s Day and will be running the Edmonton marathon with me this August. My youngest, Nathon, also loves racing in Spartan Kids and X Warrior Events. And my daughter, Sierra, is an amazing dancer.”
And his wife, Michelle, continues to be his biggest supporter, attending nearly every race Tyler’s ever competed in. Tyler says she’s sat out in -30-degree weather, waited hours at the finish line, stood in muddy and rainy fields, and has woken up at 4 am to get to the start line on time with him. As a family, they’ve even booked vacations around races. Tyler coins this as a “race-cation” instead of a vacation. He adds, “Running ultra distances a lot of the time is just as much if not more of a mental game than a physical one. And without my wife’s positive attitude and support, I don’t think I would be as strong as I am.”
As for injuries or challenges, Tyler has been fortunate in that he’s had nothing worse than leg cramps and a broken finger or toe. His biggest hurdle comes down to balancing his time. He works out of town on shift work where he’s home one week and gone the next. As such, he says that he finds it difficult to strike a balance between family time, his own time, and training.
But he makes it work. In the future, Tyler aims to make a solo attempt at the Canadian Death Race. He also expresses that he wants to improve his swimming in order to participate in a triathlon.
He says, “My addiction is not smoking or drinking or anything like that. Mine is running or just exercise in general. I’m not one to stay sitting.”
And over the years, Tyler has developed his own pre and post-race traditions. He indulges in peanut butter toast and oatmeal before a big race, fueling him and giving him the energy he needs. Post-race, he turns to Miss Vicki’s Salt and Vinegar Chips.
Tyler leaves with advice for new runners or those just getting into exercise by saying, “Remember, everyone has to start somewhere. Don’t get discouraged by failure. Push yourself and believe that you can do it. I know it sounds sort of cliche, but I really believe in the saying. Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. As long as you believe in yourself, you will succeed.”