“I hated it my whole life. I literally got detentions in high school for refusing to run.”
These days, Steve Holm is hooked on running, and the chatty, energetic Port Hardy resident needs little motivation to pound the pavement. After beginning to run in 2009 with his Golden Doodle, Dickens, Holm just completed the Island Runner Elk/Beaver Ultras in Victoria, running 100 kilometres in 10 hours and nine minutes. Weeks shy of his 50th birthday, the Canon field technician shows no sign of slowing his pace and displays an excitement for running long distances that many could never imagine. “I’ve been told I’m crazy,” he says with a laugh.
In the early hours of May 9, Holm began race day with a big bowl of oatmeal before his 6 a.m. start time. His goal for the race was around nine hours. However, the unusually hot Victoria weather made the race especially tough, even causing some racers to drop out before the finish line. Holm was on track for his goal until the heat set in, but he believes that adjusting goals mid-race is a healthy approach to the sport. “If you set one solid, concrete goal, obviously there’s so many variables that you may miss it and then you’re all depressed,” he says, before explaining that he enters races with a best case scenario, a secondary goal, and a goal simply to finish. After finishing the race in ten hours and nine minutes, Holm celebrated with his favourite post-run drink, chocolate milk, and later that evening a big New York striploin steak.
Just six years ago, Holm entered his first half-marathon after a friend who was training for the 2009 Victoria Half Marathon saw Holm’s logged runs and told him that if he kept that training up, he too would have to enter. Holm did end up completing that year’s Victoria Half Marathon, and the following year ran the full Victoria Marathon. He has since run the Victoria Marathon four times, each time posting a fast enough time to qualify for the Boston Marathon. He has also participated in many other island races, including those in Comox and Merville. Holm also finished a triathlon in 2011 which he did quite well in, however he was not especially keen on the swimming leg. As impressive as these race accomplishments is that in 2014, Holm had a running streak of 1-2 miles each day, culminating in an average of 10km run each day for the entire year.
A unique nuance to Holm’s story is that about a year before he began running, he realized that he had an alcohol problem and quit drinking. He believes that one of the reasons why he generally does not struggle to convince himself to get outside and run is because he has swapped addictions. “It’s not really that I need motivation, because running has become an addiction.”
Holm feels markedly better now, finding that running causes him to crave healthy food, and even says that in photos from 12 years ago, he looks older than he does now. In addition to the clear physical benefits, running also serves the dual purpose of giving him time to think through problems and meditate. Now that he is a 100km race finisher, Holm is not even close to being ready to stop. His short term goal is the Courtenay Country Roads Marathon on June 14. As for this running machine’s long term goals? Multi-day races.