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Hamilton runner prepares for gruelling NYC 'ultramarathon'

Hamilton's Andrea Lynn Sloan and a friend from Burlington, Tim Nelson, are heading to New York City on Friday to run for the better part of 24 hours straight.

'It just never entered my head that I couldn't', says Andrea Sloan

Ten years after signing up with her first Running Room 5 km training group, Andrea Lynn Sloan is planning to run a 160 km race in New York City next weekend. That's the equivalent of 3.8 marathons in a row. (Andrea Lynn Sloan)

Andrea Sloan likes to go out to her mom's place in Grimsby for dinner on Sunday nights.

On foot. 

From central Hamilton.

And that's just a warmup. Sloan plans to run nearly seven times that distance June 20 through all the boroughs of New York City.

A 160-kilometre race begins and ends in Times Square. It's called the Great New York Running Exposition.

Sloan, 44, is uncommonly bold and self-confident.

She remembers training for a marathon a few years ago when rain forced her inside for a run on the treadmill. A television documentary about the "toughest footrace on Earth," the Marathon des Sables, caught her eye.

"I thought, 'I can do that,'" she said.

Sloan signed up and learned how to run down sand dunes. (She says you lean forward, rather than braking to keep from straining your muscles). She ran the race in Morocco in 2008. 

Her challenge next week has a decidedly more urban feel than the deserts of North Africa. Sloan and a friend from Burlington, Tim Nelson, are heading to New York City.

They plan to run the better part of 24 hours straight. 

Running 3.8 marathons in a row

The race's distance of 160 kilometres adds up to 3.8 marathons back-to-back. 

"I'm hoping I can do 8 kilometres an hour, depending on how lost I get and how far off-course the bathrooms are," Sloan says.  

The runner is forgoing wine and coffee this week and preparing her body to start the run on June 20 at 5 a.m.

She says she'll load up with dehydrated steak bites and maybe some hard-boiled eggs. Jolts of protein will augment what she'll get at scattered aid stations during the race.

Another favourite mid-run treat are cold perogies.

Training with mild concussion

Sloan fell on a night trail run in January and chipped her knuckle, split her chin open and gave herself a mild concussion. Most of her winter training was on a treadmill while she recovers.

In the months since the injury she's been running in Red Hill Valley, Sulphur Springs and doing "hill repeats" on Hydro Hill in St. Catharines.

"My training is about 80 per cent where I wish it would be but I think I am in a good position to finish the race," she said. 

'It just never entered my head that I couldn't'

Andrea Lynn Sloan and Tim Nelson plan to run The Great New York 100 Mile Running Exposition next Saturday. They went for hill repeats on Hydro Hill in St. Catharines on Sunday. (Andrea Lynn Sloan)
Now a hearing instrument specialist in a Dundas clinic, Sloan studied Chinese medicine in Germany and worked as a UN security liaison for minority politicians in Kosovo. 

She says the intensity and adrenaline of that work comes in handy now. 

"You had to be able to stay up for long periods of time," she says.

Twelve years ago, she moved back to Canada and wanted to make friends without going to bars. She joined walking groups at the Running Room. 

One day she saw an ad to run a marathon on the Great Wall of China and signed up. She switched to running groups at the Running Room. 

Again with the self-confidence.

"I'm not exceptionally fast," she said. "It just never entered my head that I couldn't." 

We'll follow Sloan's progress next weekend; follow CBC Hamilton on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

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