You might have caught a glimpse of this duo running around Mukilteo.
You have to look fast. Jean-Michel Fouard and Dameon Hahn are quick on their feet.
Their long swoops around town are short compared to their next course: The pair will run 184 miles in the Relay World Championship on Aug 19 and 20 in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada.
Jean-Michel Fouard and Dameon Hahn are competing as a two-man team, the only two-person team in the non-stop relay. Most other teams have six to 12 people.
No wonder their team is called Run Strong.
They are running for sport and also for a cause. They hope to raise $25,000 for the YMCA of Snohomish County’s Actively Changing Together (ACT!) youth obesity program for ages 8 to 14 and their parents. The nutrition, activity and self-improvement program is for youth who are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. It offers fun ways to be active, eat and create healthy lifestyles for the whole family.
The men will take turns running and resting in the support van with a two-person support crew. They’ll use GoPro cameras and social media to publicize the race in real time, with plans for a short documentary later.
Dameon, 38, of Mountlake Terrace, is an exercise physiologist at Eviva, a Shoreline bariatric surgical center, and is co-owner of Flying Unicorn Racing, a running/multi-sport events production company. He has three children, Lexis, 13, Keyah, 11, and Caymn, 9.
Jean-Michel, 42, is a mechanical engineer at Boeing. He has two kids, Matthew, 21, and Michelle, 16. He lives in Marysville with his new wife, Wendie, and her children. The couple were married last weekend and the race is part of their honeymoon.
She will be a member of the Run Strong support crew along with Mukilteo Fitness Bar owner Laurie George.
More about Run Strong at www.facebook.com/2manrelay; instagram.com/2manrelay. Hashtags: #2manragnar #relayworldchampionship #runarelay
More about ACT! or to make a donation: www.ymca-snoco.org.
Talk about Run Strong and why you decided to run the relay.
Jean-Michel: I was taking one of Dameon’s fitness class at my gym when one day Dameon mentioned he wanted to do something epic like I do. I don’t remember which one of us picked the two-man relay.
Dameon: Our goal as a team is to challenge our physical limits and expectations, personally, as well as to raise awareness and money for a good cause: youth obesity. Regardless of who thought of constructing a two-man ultra distance team, Jean-Michel is definitely the one who inspired me to get out and participate in ultra runs. He has been doing ultra races for some time and his training and racing — as I watched in admiration from afar — was the catalyst for my interest in joining him.
How do you prepare to run a course of 184 miles?
Jean-Michel: Just like any other challenge in life. State a goal. Make a plan. Execute plan. Be adaptable when the plan goes to crap.
Dameon: Consistency in your training helps and getting in significant run volume and longer runs to support such an extreme duration event is ideal, but in the midst of the run a lot of it is mental. You have to resign yourself to the task at hand. Being prepared, mentally, to deal with the struggle is imperative.
Most teams have six to 12 members, but you two will split the distance between yourselves? Why? How?
Jean-Michel: Per the first question, it’s epic and there’s great satisfaction completing such a challenge. For Ragnar’s Northwest Passage we split three consecutive legs, for distances of about 12-18 miles. On the second day I ended up picking up more legs. For Relay World Championship my plan is to start a bit easier, splitting two legs at the time. That doesn’t leave much time to rest at night so we will do maybe three legs overnight.
Dameon: I think, considering Jean-Michel’s experience as an ultra distance runner, lent itself to him needing a little bigger challenge. I was just foolish enough, and intrigued enough, to join him.
Why did you choose child obesity?
Jean-Michel: I was overweight most of my adult life. It took me several years to learn healthy habits. I believe that teaching parents and children about healthier habits and being more active benefits society as a whole.
Dameon: We chose childhood obesity because it is a cause near and dear to our hearts. I have been in the health and wellness industry as a mentor, coach, athlete and business owner for 20 years and understand the negative social, emotional and physical impact that obesity presents.
Aligning with the YMCA of Snohomish County and specifically the Actively Changing Together (ACT) program was a natural fit for us to bring awareness to and raise money for youth obesity.
How do you train for this?
Jean-Michel: First rule of training is specificity. Mimic the course. So that translates to lots of running in the mid distance (under 16 miles) and altitude. So this isn’t what I would call a traditional “ultra” training format with very long back-to-back training runs. Instead, when time allows, do two runs a day (6 to 12 miles) and run five to six days a week.
The race will be run between 5,500 to 9,000 feet elevation. I ran a mountain ultra in the Snoqualmie in the summer, at about 5,000-6,000 feet, which I hope will help me deal with the elevation in the Ruby mountains.
Dameon: Run, run, run — and more running. I have a busy schedule that involves instructing some other exercises classes at Mukilteo Fitness Bar that also give me an opportunity to do a little cross training.
What do you like about running?
Jean-Michel: It’s a complicated question. I think for me it breaks down to running is my happy place. Yes, it’s hard, and painful at times, but when I run it is just me and the road, or me and the mountain. It removes all the worry and stress of the modern world and elevates my mind to an alternate reality where nothing can touch me. And then there’s the runner’s high; that’s pretty cool, too.
Dameon: It gives me a reprieve from the chaos of everyday life and an opportunity to explore nature, my environment, and myself in a way I couldn’t otherwise.
How many pairs of shoes do you go through in a year?
Jean-Michel: I’d guess six to eight pairs. I don’t keep track really.
Dameon: I probably only go through four or five pairs of running shoes a year.
Can you outrun dogs that chase you?
Jean-Michel: Maybe if your name is Usain Bolt … I can’t. Actually trying to outrun a dog is not a good idea. Make your stand, be tall, be noisy. Most dogs will keep their distance and eventually turn away once you leave their “territory.” I had to deal with a pack of wild dogs at an ultra race earlier this year and that’s how I dealt with the alpha of the pack.
Dameon: No! I have been bitten by two dogs, on separate occasions. One time on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, as I ran by and it was being held by its handler; the other somewhere in Mesa, Arizona.
Any tips for new or aspiring runners?
Jean-Michel: Yes. Do not use accomplished runners as a frame of reference. We all had to start somewhere. I started on treadmill, 5 minutes at a time then built upon that.
Dameon: Focus on consistency, running more frequently and being conservative and progressive with your mileage, which will help you run better and reduce injury risks.
If you could run a race with anyone alive or in history, who would it be and why?
Jean-Michel: I know this will sound cliche, but I would run alongside Philippines as he delivers the news from the battle of Marathon. Hopefully I would survive the run, unlike Philippines who ran so hard he died after delivering his message.
Dameon: I think it would be Steve Prefontaine. I have been a fan of his. I still ride my bike indoors on rollers while watching his biopic “Prefontaine” ever since I got into running and triathlon.
Fill in the blank: People would be shocked to know…
Jean-Michel: I don’t mind warm water when I run but Dameon will not drink unless it is ice water.
Dameon: We seldom have an opportunity to train together and Jean-Michel’s spirit animal is a Pegacorn.
What’s your most proud moment?
Jean-Michel: Other than my kids being born, I would say it has got to be witnessing airplane first flights at my job, knowing that my contribution to those incredible machine are taking flight with them.
Dameon: When I beat a stacked field of athletes to represent the state of Arizona and qualified to compete in the inaugural Best of the U.S. Triathlon.
Running for 11 hours and 45 minutes to complete Dizzy Daze, a 12-hour run around Green Lake, to qualify to run Ragnar as a two-man team, was a close second.
What are three things in your fridge?
Jean-Michel: Orange juice, eggs and salami.
Dameon: Cottage cheese, boiled eggs, and carrots.
What is your pet peeve?
Jean-Michel: Slow drivers in the left lanes.
Dameon: Bad attitudes.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Jean-Michel: 5-Hour ENERGY.
Dameon: Butterfingers and Kit Kats.
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