Running isn't for everyone, but for Matt Setlack it's a way of life.
Setlack is a Cold Lake resident who has earned the right to call himself the fourth fastest mountain runner in Canada.
That identity is about to go international.
On July 30, Setlack will be among some of the world's top mountain runners, as he takes part in the World Mountain Running Championships in Premanda, Italy.
The local runner had to meet two qualifiers before being selected for the Canada team. First, he had to run 10-kilometres under 36 minutes. This got him into the Canadian Mountain Running Championships. From there, he had to be in the top four to make it to the worlds.
“I'm really looking forward to the level of competition. It's a very high level, the best guys and girls in the world are going to be there,” Setlack said.
Over 140 runners will be taking part in the worlds, some of which Setlack has raced in the past.
“It's like a big family reunion almost. I have gone to a few of these world competitions before for running… and you see a lot of the same people out there,” he continued. “Even though they come from all around the world, you still get to see them again which is really nice.”
Known as the fastest runner in the Canadian Armed Forces for the 10-kilometre and half-mile run, Setlack is ready for the big leagues.
He runs about 20-kilometres a day, seven days a week. Since January, that has accumulated to about 3,000-kilometres.
In preparation for the big event, Setlack is running anywhere from 130 to 170-kilometres a week, putting those miles on through trail running, road running, and even on the mountains.
Setlack has participated in numerous races this year, always finding himself ranking amongst some of the best.
His most recent accomplishment was the Kananaskis 100-Mile Relay Race on June 24. He placed first out of 72.
“Running's important to me. It's something my wife Emily and I do together. We run together usually everyday. It's a great way to stay healthy, see the world, and see your local area,” he said.
But running is not his only passion. Setlack also gives back to the community, using his love for the sport as a way of helping others.
Setlack works as a aerospace engineer with the Royal Canadian Air Force, and volunteers in his free time.
He helps organize the 4 Wing Community Run, inspires others to get into the sport, attends the Learn to Run group, organizes Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment (AETE) tours for cadets at local schools as the AETE Cadet Liaison Officer, and teaches running techniques to the local gymnastics club.
He is hoping that by attending the race, he can promote the City of Cold Lake on a unique and international platform.
On Tuesday, July 11, he presented to city council a proposal that they have never seen before.
Setlack was looking for help in covering some of the costs of travelling internationally to take part in the world championship. Originally, he applied for the Recreational Culture Grant, but was denied because he is not a part of a non-profit organization.
Setlack specifically applied for the travel funding, where individuals, teams, or groups can apply for money to help cover the cost of participating in athletic or cultural events.
“I feel like I could put Cold Lake on the map by going to this competition,” he told council.
Although he wasn't asking for a set amount, he is hoping that his work in the community, motivation, and ability to get the city's name out into the world, would be enough for him to get funding.
By using his website, blog, social media, and other outlets, Setlack would document his time in Italy, reminding everyone where he comes from.
“I want to thank everyone who has helped me get to this point,” Setlack said.
Council won't meet again until after the event, but will discuss it at the August 8 council meeting.
“I'm very impressed by the amount of give back you give to the community,” said Coun. Bob Buckle. “It makes me eager and want to help. An individual who is taking some of the steps you have taken to support some of the other groups in the city… that's impressive.”
Anyone interested in following Setlack on his journey, can do so through his Facebook page, Instagram, or Twitter. He also has a website at teamsetlack.com.