Kim and Ethan Nedeau found strength in each other and now thrive on non-traditional events.
It isn’t supposed to work like this: two runners who’d fallen out of love with the sport meet, fall in love with each other, start a family, and then become elite athletes. In 2004, the newly bonded pair discovered that going off the beaten path – literally – could be a formula for success: Slower, lower-impact mountain running mitigated injury issues that both had suffered, souring them on road running. Last year Kim, 37, finished in the top 10 at the World Mountain Running Championships, and Ethan, 44, won his third consecutive age-group title at the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships. Now with a 10-year-old, an 8-year-old, and a German shorthaired pointer named Scout in tow, the Nedeaus live close to their favourite running trails in a house with a garage gym built by Ethan.
KIM “I was at a point where I’d start running really well and then get injured, and I gave up. I met Ethan online at the same time. He was the first and only person that I ever talked to, and it turned out that we had mutual friends and probably would’ve eventually met in real life. He was a good distraction, and I fell in love.”
ETHAN “She had a funny line on her profile saying she could run a faster 5K than any guy could. I was like, Great, a good runner! I hadn’t run in five years, and meeting her actually rekindled my interest in running.”
KIM “We ended up in this relationship with outdated roles [laughs]. I do the cleaning and the cooking and most of the care for the kids, the bills and all that, and Ethan is our moneymaker.”
ETHAN “Since our oldest was born, Kim has been a stay-at-home mum and I’ve continued with my biology consulting business.”
KIM “I get up at 4 or 4.30 in the morning, do an hour on the bike and some strength work. Then I put the kids on the bus and do my run with Scout on the local trails. I work out six days a week.”
ETHAN “She goes to bed at 8:30 when the kids go to bed. I stay up until about 11. I sleep in late, which is 6.30 or 7 am. I do a mix of mountain biking and running during the day and then do either the stationary bike or strength in our garage gym after everyone’s gone to bed. I’m usually going seven days a week.”
ETHAN “I just like poking around the yard with the kids, making little single-track trails on the property for them. You can fit a lot of trail in two-and-a-half hectares if you zigzag enough.”
KIM “The kids don’t do organised sports yet. Even though there’s some interest, it’s all play with their neighbour friends. It’s not competitive at this point, and that’s what we’re focusing on right now.”
ETHAN “I wish I could run uphill the way Kim does. I’ve tried over the last three years to get better at it, but I’m not as good as I’d like to be. Kim’s awesome. I don’t know how she does it.”
KIM “The volume doesn’t seem to affect Ethan. He’s not doing anything crazy, maybe 60 to 100 kilometres a week, whereas I’ve been doing 50, but I would like to run as much as he does without getting injured.”
KIM “If I could have a repeat of this past year, I’d be thrilled. I’d like to qualify for the world team again.”
ETHAN “I don’t have any big goals. I’m in my 40s, so I’m doing well if each year passes and I don’t get slower.”
Work Meets Play
Inspired by trips to the playground, Ethan converted his garage into cross-training heaven.
- Horizontal Monkey Bars
Integrated into the slope of the roof at a 45-degree angle.
- Incline Rock Wall
A mini-version of a wall one might find in a rock-climbing gym. “It’s one of my finest creations,” says Ethan.
- Peg Board
Rising at a 45-degree angle, the hole-riddled board can be traversed using two wooden pegs.
- The Log
Cut, trimmed, and sanded down from a tree from the backyard, it’s used for hangs and pull-ups.
- “Tarzan Traverse”
To help simulate swinging-style obstacles, Ethan drilled holes into lacrosse balls and PVC piping and suspended them from rope mesh.