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Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis

How Mathieu Gélinas says goodbye to the MS

We all have our reasons for going out to train on a daily basis. Whether it's an organized event or an unusual expedition, these X's in the calendar carry an undeniable discipline and motivation.

For me, the training sessions of the last few years had very simple reasons; to surpass myself and have the best possible lifestyle. I participated in a few cross-country skiing and running events to test the machine, but nothing more. However, last year, my motivation changed.

Henriette: my inspiration
As far back as I can remember, I have always been aware of how lucky I am to be able to practice my favorite sports without any major physical limitations. It was in part my grandmother Henriette who made me realize what a HUGE privilege it is to be able to run on my two legs as I wish.

She lived most of her life with multiple sclerosis (MS), a neurological disease that took away her motor skills. Simple everyday tasks were very challenging for Henriette. Despite this, she never complained.

The word resilience is the first word that comes to mind when I think of her.
In April 2020, at the height of the pandemic, my dearest grandmother passed away from COVID-19. Due to health regulations, I was unfortunately not able to accompany her in her final moments and show her, for one last time, all the admiration I have always had for her.

My project: cringe against MS
I had to do something to honor her. Something to say goodbye to her. That's how the project to run against MS came about. The project is to run seven marathons in seven days between Tadoussac and Quebec City in order to raise $25,000 for research into a cure for MS. To do this, I chose to take as many forest roads as possible.

The preparation
In January 2022, ten months before the challenge, I started a specific training program set up by a very competent physical trainer (hello Charles Castonguay). From that moment on, I never doubted my ability to run marathons because my discipline was fueled by my motivation.
This physical preparation was interspersed with intensities, long runs, stage races and a famous "shock" week (those famous 7 days where I had my highest weekly volume, but where I also had the COVID-19). I remember sleeping 11-12 hours a night to make it to the end of the week.
1,2,3, GO
After these months of physical preparation, all I had to do was run. Everything was in place. That is to say that all the controllable elements had been considered.
It was on the morning of October 17, 2022 that I began my adventure; to run 300 km from Tadoussac to Quebec City along forest roads. At that moment, the emotions were palpable; excitement, nervousness and pride are the main ones that come to mind.
The weather conditions of the week were varied; sun, wind, snow, rain. It must be said that being in contact with these elements made the adventure itself beautiful and unique.
And boom, in the blink of an eye, I was on the streets of Quebec City with 7 marathons under my belt. At least, that's how I perceived it.
This 7th day was for me one of the most beautiful days of my life. I was surrounded by people I love to run the last marathon that led us to the Plains of Abraham, the official finish of my route. The love, support and recognition I received during that day is unforgettable. I hope you will experience this someday, let's just say it feels amazing and makes you think about the next challenge.

Nutrition during the challenge
Like many people, nutrition during a long-distance effort is a good challenge. In the past, nutrition had been a real issue that sometimes led me to not finish races.
Knowing that this was one of my weaknesses, I tested several things during the months of training. So I got to know better what works for me, and in my case, it's clearly the Drinkmix.
This product has helped me maintain my energy, especially in times when solid nutrition was not working.
However, I didn't anticipate that the fatigue and the rush of emotions I was experiencing during the challenge would sometimes lead me to think incoherently or irrationally. And as you may have guessed, this does not rhyme with proper nutrition during the effort. Fortunately, I was well surrounded. My wife Catherine was able to take over the management of what I was eating.
Here is an example of our exchanges:
Catherine: "Here, eat a Naak bar."
Mathieu: "No, I'm OK, I'll wait for the next stop."
Catherine: "Stop, eat this."(handing me the bar)
Mathieu: "Okay..."

His help was clearly a game changer.
And now?
I'm writing these lines 4 months after the challenge and despite the time that has passed, I still experience a lot of emotions every time I think about my adventure.
I often tell myself that it was too good to be true.
From start to finish, everything went well; no major injuries and morale was high. I like to think that Henriette was behind me.

To date, I am very close to reaching my goal of raising $25,000 for MS research. Of course, the physical challenge that I have overcome makes me proud, but above all, it is the project as a whole that fills me with the most pride. I like to believe that this project will help improve the future of this disease and, above all, the lives of people with MS.
The short film "Cranking on MS".

If you were interested in my adventure or the cause behind it, you are invited to watch the documentary Cranking Against MS directed by Bryan Allie which will be released in the spring of 2023.
Not only does the film tell the story of my running adventure, but it also highlights the beautiful stories told by people living with MS, because yes, there are plenty of beautiful stories. It will be possible to view the documentary at official premiere evenings before its publication.

For dates, follow theFacebookandInstagrampages of @crinque_contre_la_sp.
If you've been hesitant to take on a project like this, go! It's cringeworthy as hell.
Looking forward to seeing you on the trails!

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