My name is Paul Hazon, 37 and I live/train in North Vancouver, Canada. I moved here from England when I was 19, but despite a keen interest in running at that time, it wasn’t until 2013 that I really started to take it more seriously. I had tickets to the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival and while I was there, I got talking to Gary Robbins. He was manning the Squamish 50 booth and signing up runners for the grueling ultramarathon event. I had never heard of ultrarunning at that point, so the idea of running 50km, or even worse, 50-miles, seemed a little ludicrous. I had, however, just finished the Vancouver Marathon a few months earlier. “Fifty kilometers is only an additional eight”, I thought. “How hard can it be?”.
Fast forward to the following August and it was time to toe the line for the Squamish 50k. I had suffered a few injuries during my “preparations” for the race and wasn’t even close to as ready as I could have been. Needless to say, it was a painful experience. I struggled home in almost 8.5 hours and vowed never to do something so stupid again. I couldn’t believe I’d paid actual money to put myself through so much pain. Never again.
On the drive home though, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had actually achieved, once I looked beyond the pain and suffering I had endured. I’d successfully completed a 50 km course with around 9000 ft of climbing. I’d done this with no experience and no idea what I was really doing. Not bad.
And so, that’s where it all started for me. I’ve now completed multiple 50k races, a 100k race, and in 2016 I finished the Squamish 50/50. Yes, I went back for more and did both races that weekend. The 50-miler on Saturday and the 50k on Sunday. I became the proud owner of the coveted blue finisher’s cap. Then, in 2017, I went back to Squamish again and picked up the green hat for a second finish, knocking almost 6 hours off my overall time and sneaking under the 20-hour mark by just 25 seconds!
On Canada Day 2017 I also won my first race! I took first place in the Tri-Conic Challenge Marathon in Port Alberni, BC. I now have a trophy I can look at every day and be reminded that there are opportunities at all levels of the sport and if you train hard and be patient, the next thing you know you’ll be walking across the stage in front of a crowd of people to collect the rewards (yeah, that was awesome!).
I’ve always been a strong athlete, especially when it came to running. Early on in high school, I was known more for my sprinting and even broke a 26-year old school record in the 200m one year. As I got a bit older, distance running became my pursuit of choice. I was always in great shape and had barely an ounce of fat on my body. That all changed though when I left home and moved to Canada on my own.
Not living at home for the first time was a bit of a shock. Having to cook my own meals every day? No thank you. There’s a McDonald’s down the street. I can just go there. This was back in 1999. Over the course of the next few years, I gained quite a lot of weight. I wasn’t running. I wasn’t doing anything. I would go to work, come home and watch TV for the rest of the evening. No working out at all. It wasn’t McDonald’s all the time. In fact, I only went there a couple of times a week. I did cook meals at home, but I’m so picky and always tend to go for more of a junk food type diet. It’s still like that to this day, although my life is more settled now and I have started to make better choices. However, I’m still quite heavy for a long-distance runner. In the grand scheme of things, I’d say I was average for a male of my age and height. But, as a runner, I’m definitely overweight. I’m what is known as a Clydesdale. We are larger runners that can still do what the smaller runners can do… just not as quickly, easily, or elegantly.
That is slowly changing for me though. As I run more and more and stay away from injury and weeks on the sideline, I am starting to see changes in my body composition. I have gained a lot of muscle in my legs and the old waistline is beginning to shrink. Hopefully, if you decide to check in regularly and follow my journey, you’ll be able to see the transformation complete and maybe it will even inspire you to make a few changes yourself!