Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ski race latest endurance test for Winnipeg's Roadley

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PHIL ROADLEY is one of the few people on earth, if not the only one, who can boast of running marathons at the top and bottom of the planet, and not only finishing both, but even winning one of them.

At 45, Roadley doesn't have anything to prove. He's a successful businessman (he owns Bikes and Beyond in East Kildonan) and an incredibly fit athlete. So why does he push himself past barriers that most people would consider impossible, or at the very least foolish?

"Sometimes it motivates me to keep training, because I have a goal to aim for," said Roadley, who last weekend finished third in the under-50 category at the Lake Louise-to-Banff loppet cross-country ski race. He covered the 71-kilometre course in six hours, 25.48 minutes. "And then sometimes it's just a good excuse to go places I've never been before.

"Two years ago, I went with a friend to Europe and we cycled up Mount Ventoux in France (a major hill climb in the Tour de France), just south of the Swiss Alps, four times in one day. That's just under 20,000 feet of climbing. And in 1993, I cycled 1,400 kilometres along a train track from the United States border to Churchill."

For Roadley, the loppet was a piece of cake compared to some of his adventures. For instance, 17 years ago he ran a marathon at the northern tip of Baffin Island. In 2002, he won the Antarctica Marathon on the northern tip of that continent in a respectable time of four hours, nine minutes.

Although mild in comparison to running marathons in both polar regions, last weekend's loppet "was not your standard cross-country ski race," Roadley said. "Most of this course is not even in existence all year long. One section went through a swamp and it was about two kilometres of packed-down snow. The other parts were like a trail right along the side of the road.

"It was kind of warm and wet that day, so some of the sand and grit along the side of the road found its way onto the track."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 5, 2009 C4

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