Endurance athlete takes on 520K race

Mike Glasser of Pitt Meadows is taking ironman competition to a new level

Endurance athlete takes on 520K race

Lots of people can boast of having run a marathon – Will Ferrell, Al Gore, Pamela Anderson and even Oprah.

But Pitt Meadows iron man Mike Glasser is going to run two in one day. And he will accomplish that feat as the last leg of an ironman – after having already done a 10k swim and 426 bike ride over the preceding two days.

Glasser, 36, is an endurance athlete in a whole different class, and has been invited to take part in the Ultra520K Canada race, which will be held in Penticton over the B.C. Day long weekend Aug. 3-6.

The first day of competition brings the swim in Skaha Lake, which he hopes to complete in under four hours. He had been going around three hours and 20 minutes, but a groin injury has forced Glasser to scale back his training. Out of the water, he will jump on a bike for about 150 km that first day, and then finish the 426 km Okanagan cycle odyssey the next day, going from Okanagan Falls to Penticton and Princeton. On the third day he will run 84.4 km from Princeton to Summerland.

He admits he is a little concerned about the potential for mid-30 C heat in the Interior. There is no escape from the sun beating down, and waves or warmth radiating up from the asphalt.

What’s more, he has never gone the kinds of distances he will face in the event.

But he will adjust his hydration accordingly. He has done DNA testing and metabolism analysis that tells him exactly how much to eat. He measures the lactic acid in his blood as he travels. And he has trained about 18 hours per week to get his body ready.

“I just get in a zone. You play a lot of mental games,” he said. “It’s amazing what you can do with the human body, and the places it can take you if the mind is willing.”

If he can run for six hours, then he can run for 12, is essentially what he espouses.

“It’s just more mileage, and you try to stay in your zone.”

The event consists of 35 athletes from around the world, and Glasser said he feels privileged to take part.

A veteran of two Ironman Canada races, he attended the Ultra520K last year, and started a new infatuation. It’s all part of the visualization that it takes to pull off this kind of feat.

“I’ve watched myself cross that finish line a thousand times,” he said. “It really is about the mental preparation – like a lot in life.”

He first became interested in endurance sports at the age of about 30, and when his father Terry passed away suddenly in 2013, he re-evaluated everything in his life. He quit working in the family construction business and pursued a new career as a firefighter, and he threw himself into a healthy lifestyle and his new sport.

“I could hear him telling me to do what I wanted to do,” he said.

Tim Roe is his coach and good friend. They did their Emergency Medical Response training together, and have worked together in the field. Roe also worked as a strength and conditioning coach in Australia.

“I have aided individuals to succeed in one of these areas at a time. Here is the difference with Magic Mike: he has the sheer tenacity to tackle both the 520k as well as continue his training and studies to become a career firefighter. This is no mean feat,” said Roe.

“Take a look at his training schedule for either and it looks overwhelming for most. He is managing to accomplish both, at the same time. And all the while keeping cool, calm and collected, even with two young children and a supportive wife. Typical Mike.”

Glasser works his training around a career as a firefighter in Point Roberts, working with B.C. Ambulance, and parenting a three-year-old daughter and 10-month-old son.

Glasser and his wife Kait have a non-profit organization called OperationHOPE that they started shortly after they met in 2011. It provides clothing to homeless people, mainly on Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. Giving back, helping others and gratitude is the foundation in which they choose to live by daily, he said.

Glasser is sponsored by Natera, a Pitt Meadows company that produces hemp-based products, including a line of nutrition bars.

He continues to challenge himself by tackling longer distances, new terrain, climates and altitudes.

“For me it’s always about raising that bar, and it’s a personal journey,” he said.

The man is a walking inspiration. A swimming, cycling and running inspiration. For him, the finish line is a metaphor.

“Whatever you want to do in your life, whatever you love to do, you can do it. We are all amazing in what we can do, and have our own greatness.”