Brentwood man running in first Tour de France footrace

Alain Dubé from Brentwood Bay will be among the first group to take part in the inaugural Tour de France footrace.

Alain Dubé will have some unusual luggage with him when he leaves this Saturday, June 20, for his first ever European vacation. He’ll be gone for just over a month but in that time he fully expects to wear out six pairs of high-end running shoes.

The 47-year-old from Brentwood Bay will be among the first group to take part in the inaugural Tour de France footrace, also known as the Sky Run.

“It’s the first year they’re doing it,” Dubé says. “Hopefully, as it goes, it’s going to get bigger and bigger.”

The race begins in the shadow of the famous Notre Dame cathedral and will then follow a 43 day, 2,700 kilometre route that winds up at the foot of another Paris landmark.

“That will be something, on the last day, to see that Eiffel Tower,” says Dubé, who heard about plans for the footrace about three years ago and has been following its development ever since.

He sent in an application, complete with his times and past experiences and was one of 40 runners chosen by organizers. The footrace runs from June 28 to Aug. 9 and will overlap the famous Tour de France cycling race, which goes from July 4 to 26.

“We’re going to use lots of the same road except we’re going to take a lot of secondary roads,” says Dubé, who was born in Montreal but has lived in Central Saanich for the past three years.

This will be the most extreme ultramarathon Dubé has run, though he’s competed in long-distance events before. He’s finished the Penticton Ironman four times and the 100 km race around Elk and Beaver Lake twice. He also once trained alongside Simon Whitfield, the Victoria-based triathlete who won Olympic gold for Canada in 2000. Dubé used to swim with the legendary athlete in Whitfield’s former hometown of Kingston back in the early 1990s.

“In a really bad 25 metre pool,” Dubé says with a laugh. “I guess in those days the 50 metre pools were pretty rare.”

Now less focused on competitive racing, Dubé says he prefers trail running and averages 125 kilometers per week.

“That’s when I do all my thinking,” he says. “It’s almost spiritual.”

Dubé ran his first marathon in 1989.

“I still remember the time,” Dubé says. (It was three hours and 23 minutes.)

His last marathon was Sunday (June 14) — the Edge to Edge in Ucluet, where he finished with a time of three hours and 28 minutes.

“That marathon is really, really difficult,” Dubé says, noting the many hills and uneven terrain. “I think the human body can do so much that we still don’t understand.”

The trip to France is Dubé’s first to Europe.

“What a way to see the country,” he says. “I think it’s going to be the experience of a lifetime, for sure.”

Dubé, who is a care aid at Saanich Peninsula Hospital, will be one of two Canadians taking part.

The entire trip will cost Dubé about $15,000.

“I’m expecting to do a lot of overtime when I come back to work,” he says.

— by Jim Zeeben/News staff

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