Victoria marathoner is all business

Long distance runner sure to win best-dressed award at Sunday’s 33rd GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon

Adam Campbell gets in some practice on Vancouver Street for the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon

There’s something quixotic about the way Adam Campbell is suiting up for his newest adventure. Campbell, you see, is an ultramarathoner.

Before work, after work and on the weekends, the 33-year-old trains full time for long-distance running. From nine to five, however, he’s a lawyer with Hemminger Schmid based in Vic West. Campbell the lawyer also offers his services pro bono to the community.

And in true enterprising fashion, he’s tying all three together as he prepares to run Sunday morning’s GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon – in a suit.

“Although I’m a self-proclaimed ‘serious’ runner, I recognize that sport is ultimately about having fun, so I was looking for a quirky challenge,” Campbell said.

The challenge being: run a faster marathon time, in a suit, than the current world record holder, Paul Buchanan, who ran the 2009 Dublin Marathon (Ireland) in three hours, 24 minutes.

Buchanan’s race is acknowledged by Guinness World Records and Campbell has ironed out the necessary Guinness documentation should he lower Buchanan’s mark on Sunday.

The rules are simple: finish the race in a suit.

“Mercifully, I don’t have to wear dress shoes,” Campbell said. “I’ll be wearing my favourite pair of racing flats from Frontrunners, which happen to match my tie.”

It seemed like a good way to marry my dual identity as a lawyer and an elite runner.”

Predominantly a trail runner, Campbell is no slouch.

He finished second overall at his first 100-miler in May, the Mt. Fuji Ultra Trail in Japan, with a time of 19 hours, 26 minutes.

That’s about 17 hours longer than the average time it takes to complete an Olympic distance triathlon, the sport which brought Campbell to Victoria in the first place.

“My first marathon was Victoria in 2006 and I finished third with a time of 2:29:11. I don’t think I’ll be anywhere close to that, but I’m quite confident that I can break three hours.”

Plenty of tutus and mask-wearing runners have crossed the Victoria Marathon finish line before, so Campbell isn’t the first to run it in costume.

But he might be the most accomplished runner to do so.

“I hope (Campbell) doesn’t have too much chafing and I would like to see the state of the suit when he’s finished,” said Jonathan Foweraker, organizer of the marathon’s elite athletes.

Well-suited for racing

Ultrarunners are accustomed to extra gear, most wearing a belt full of water bottles and a headlamp as they run through the dark of the night.

But a tailored business suit is something else.

Ultimately, heat on the day is Campbell’s greatest concern. This summer, a Missouri runner tried to break the record but, because he over-heated, he walked to the finish, taking just over five hours.

The weather calls for sun and that’s Campbell’s preference.

“I think heat is better than rain, I’m sure the suit would get quite heavy if it got drenched,” he said.

The suit is a Paul Betenly, donated from Citizen Clothing in Estevan Village. It retails for $695 and comes with a shirt by Culturata and a red Dion tie.

Campbell visited Citizen proprietor Patrick Tier for a fitting earlier this week, though Tier was undecided about whether or not he should leave the suit and jacket a little bit loose.

“Ultimately I’m doing the run for charity, to raise money for the Access Pro Bono Society, so I’m willing to put up with some significant discomfort to set a respectable time.”

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