Kristian Andres has done a lot of special things on the track and on the trails and now, the former Roblin native has a piece of Manitoba trail running history. We'll get to that later, but first, we'll take a look at what led Andres to make history and it all started in Roblin at Goose Lake High School.
On the track competing with the Raiders, Andres is a 10-time provincial champion and 17-time provincial medalist. That means he averaged 2.5 gold medals each year throughout his high school days and 4.25 overall medals. His favourite event was the 3-kilometre race where he would win four provincial rural championships and he continued his dominance by winning two AAAA provincial titles.
Andres, who now lives in Brandon, was also a provincial all-star and medallist on the volleyball court and in his grade 12 year, Kristian was named the varsity boys athlete of the year at Goose Lake. That was back in the 2005-2006 school year.
"It's neat to reminisce on once in a while, but I don't think about it that often because it was so many years ago," said Andres. "With that said, I still have those moments of being proud because of all the work I put in and the results that came from it. It was a pretty special four years."
After an illustrious athletic career in his hometown which is nicknamed the "Jewel of the Parkland", Andres was set for a change as he packed his bags and moved to Winnipeg. He attended the University of Manitoba where he would spend six years full-time and three years part-time. While attending school, Andres ran two years for the Bisons' track and field team and it was during those two years that Kristian admittedly lost his passion for running so for the most part, he focused solely on his studies.
His studies, by the way, have led him to a profession at the Brandon Hospital where's he's a physician assistant who works in orthopedic surgery. Living in the Wheat City was the fuel to Andres' fire as he started running at the Brandon Hills which is about 10 minutes south of Brandon. It's a 50 kilometre trail which sees everything from runners to cross-country skiing and mountain biking.
Andres has now been running at the Hills for about four years and for the Roblin native who lives a very busy life with a high-pressure job, it's a great way to take a break.
"It's one of those places where I can just forget about everything going on in the world," said Andres. "Whether I go running for an hour or two, it just really helps me take a break from everything else going on so I can enjoy myself."
Every time Andres runs at the Brandon Hills is a challenge because of the hilly terrain, but he amped things up to the next level with a friend of his by the name of Mikhail Gerylo. The duo made their way to the Whiteshell Provincial Park as they attempted to complete the 64-kilometre Mantario Trail and they wanted to do it in record time. The fastest known time prior to Kristian and Mikhail attempting it was 8:56:58.
The 64-kilometre trail was the longest run ever for Andres by more than 20-kilometres. His previous high was the 42.2 km Coureur des Bois stage trail marathon run in Riding Mountain National Park. Gerylo; meanwhile, ran the 75-kilometre West Coast Trail race in British Columbia. The duo had also done Spartan Races so they were ready for the challenge and a daunting one it was.
The route features a combination of Boreal forest, marshy low spots through knee-deep mud and water, and stony Canadian Shield near the south trailhead. Another challenge was there are no access points between the finish and end of the trail meaning Kristian and Mikhail had to carry everything they needed. They carried water, nutrition, first-aid kits, and aqua tablets that purify water.
"It's absolutely gorgeous out there, of course, it's daunting, but the views are mesmerizing, it was incredible," added Andres.
Prior to making the attempt at a record, both Andres and Gerylo scouted the trail to see what they would come up against and after more than eight hours, the former Roblin native has made history. The duo finished the trail in eight hours, 13 minutes and 48 seconds, the fastest known time by more than 30 minutes. They averaged 7:45 per kilometre to complete the feat.
Andres estimates he lost more than 5,300 calories that day and the pair even lost about 20 minutes when they wandered off the trail and had to retrace their steps. That wasn't the only blip throughout the race as just about 1-kilometre in, Andres gashed his knee and after the midway mark, cramps started to set in both thighs.
"I kind of led things in the first half and guided us through and then Mikhail took over the back end," said Andres. "I went to a dark place later in the race, it was a struggle. Mikhail did a great job of keeping me at a good pace for the final 20-kilometres.
Kristian's girlfriend and another friend were standing at the finish line with tape and the pair were able to run through it.
"It was a great feeling to achieve the feat and we were both pretty excited to just lay down in the parking lot, we were extremely tired," added Andres. "We had a goal in mind and to be able to accomplish our goal that feels absolutely great."
So the duo completed Manitoba running history; however, that isn't enough for Kristian. As noted above, the pair lost about 20 minutes because they wandered off-trail.
"Within a day or two there was a part of me that was saying we'll go back in the fall to see if we can run in under eight hours," concluded Andres. "I think we could have done better and the competitiveness in me wants to make that happen."
Kristian will continue to train at the Brandon Hills just in case they do attempt to break the eight-hour mark in a couple of months’ time.