Victoria ultra marathon runner overcomes rare genetic disease to race

Victoria ultra marathon runner overcomes rare genetic disease to race

Tonight marks the start of the Finlayson Arm Ultra, it’s a weekend long event featuring races with daunting distances, including 28, 50 and 100 kilometre courses. One of the competitors in the 100 kilometre race is a Victoria man, who just a few years ago could barely run a mile. Kevin Charach has the story.


Jerry Hughes is a full time chef, chopping and sauteing over 8 hour s a day. Most would consider the job physically draining, but for Hughes, his real workout is his commute.

“12-14 kilometres a day each way.”

The 37-year-old trains daily for ultra marathons, races that make regular marathons seem like a walk in the park. Popular distances include 50 kilometre, 100 kilometre and even 100 mile races. Hughes has done them all, and that’s a feat that seemed unimaginable a few years ago.

“3 and a half 4 years ago i was 221 pounds,” Hughes says, “doing a kilometre took me about 8 minutes so definitely not ultra marathons, i didn’t even know they existed.”

Hughes doesn’t consider himself a naturally gifted athlete, in fact, growing up he was hindered by a rare genetic disease called Gardner Syndrome.

“it only effects a few per cent of the population, widely unkown and it took away my dads life,” Hughes says, “I had to get my large intestinte removed so I had a colostomy bag in high school.”

Hughes learned to manage the disease, but admits he developed poor eating and exercise habits. After some self motivation, the transformation began. He began running 5 kilometres, then ten, and the rest, is history.

“My best ultra marathon is 3rd place 18 hours 37 minutes and my longest run was 208 kilometres on trail in 24 hours.”

But more importantly for Hughes, it’s about showing his kids that despite setbacks and hurdles; if you set your goals, you can achieve them.

“what I want them to see is that there’s no new limitations on what they can or can’t do,” Hughes says, “anything’s possible and I want to show my boys that they can do anything, with or without the disease.”

Tyler BennettTyler Bennett

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