Quebec barefoot runner breaks half-marathon mark on snow and ice
A decidedly Canadian recording-breaking run occurred on March 6 when transplanted Spanish trail runner Karim El Hayani trotted barefoot over ice and crusty snow near his new home of Bromont, Quebec on his way to a half marathon time of 1:37:54 beating the Guinness record time set by Wim Hoff.
“There was no race organized this year because of the pandemic, so I wanted to challenge myself, have a goal and a motivation,” El Hayani says. “it was something that I wanted to do one day, so I decided that it was this year.”
El Hayani is a minimalist athlete and he has run barefoot a long time. The longest distance he has run barefoot is 100 kilometres. He wanted to push his limits, and though Wim Hoff’s record was one he could pursue.
“The latest official Guinness world record was from Wim Hoff in 2007 and it was a half marathon, barefoot on ice or snow, and his time was about two hours and 16 minutes,” he explains.
El Hayani plotted a loop on Lake Beauport where he believed he would have a snowy 1,300-metre track upon which to make his attempt. Since moving to a colder climate, El Hayani has adapted to running barefoot in the snow. But leading up to the race conditions changed and there was rain followed by very cold temperatures.
“So the piste when I ran was ice,” he says. “One part of the piste was snow, and the other half was pure ice. So I had to learn how to run on ice 30 minutes before starting.”
To make the run official, he had the entire run filmed from the first kilometre to the end, in addition to taking a photo of his chrono with the distance and time on it,” El Hayani says.
“We will send that to the Guinness organization to make the record official,” he adds.
Many people turned out for the attempt or happened to be there to skate on the lake and ended up cheering the runner on to his record.
El Hayani’s next goal is to run 250 kilometres barefoot in the desert.
“I like goals that challenge my limits,” he says. “I am a person who likes the mountains and travelling with the minimum and meeting new people and discovering new cultures.”