Rob’s passion for sport and the outdoors began at a young age growing up in the Canadian city of Hamilton, Ontario. His high school years found him participating in cross country, track, badminton, and water polo with summers spent on the triathlon circuit, twice representing Canada at the world championships. His love for running brought him to the United States to attend Butler University as a middle distance specialist. Upon graduating he found his way west to Phoenix, AZ, lured by the endless sun and warm temperatures, taking a long break away from running.
Several years later and yearning for a return to a four-season home, he moved north to the mountain town of Flagstaff, AZ. Embraced by the mountains and the vibrant running scene, Rob found himself running and racing once again. He soon realized the roads were not his home and entered the 6-day TransRockies trail run with friend Mike Smith in 2009. This race proved fateful, leading to terrific highs—meeting his beautiful rock and ultimate partner Christina, and humbling lows—running to destruction, forced to undergo surgery to remove Haglund’s deformities from both heels in 2010.
The long recovery from surgery allowed him to find love and new passions including fly-fishing, rock climbing, and ski mountaineering. Gradually, Rob found new peace on the trails and a healthier balance in life, prompting a return to racing in 2012.
Rob credits his fitness regimen of ski mountaineering in helping him win and set a new course record in his first race back in nearly three years at the 2012 Moab Red Hot 33K, the first stop on the La Sportiva Mountain Cup which he would go on to win. Throughout his season, Rob continued to break barriers, setting a new Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the single crossing of the Grand Canyon in May 2012. Another highlight of his season was representing his home country of Canada at the World Mountain Running Championships in September in Temù, Italy.
Rob’s foray into ultra running began on a whim at the Bootlegger 25K/50K in 2013 where he opted for the longer distance at the last minute, “just to see what it would be like”. With a second place finish at the Bootlegger, a win and new course record a month later at the McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50K, he was hooked. Another strong winter of ski mountaineering and another record setting win at the Moab Red Hot, this time in the 55K distance, set the tone for what proved to be a breakout year in 2013. Highlights included a record setting run at the Leona Divide 50M, breaking the prestigious Grand Canyon double crossing FKT and a successful initiation to the 100-mile distance with a second place finish at the iconic Western States Endurance Run.
2014 was all about the longer distances. Rob returned to the Western States Endurance Run where he won in the second fastest time ever. He then went on to create his own “triple crown” challenge running two more 100-mile races within three months of Western States. He competed in and won the Leadville 100M and Run Rabbit Run 100M with the second fastest times ever in both. Setting his sights on 2015, Rob plans to expand his racing overseas, challenge himself in more technical and difficult racing, and step out of him comfort zone more than ever before. His plans include his introduction to ski mountaineering racing and a 3-day stage mountain bike race later in the year. Highlights of his racing schedule include returning to Western States to defend his title, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc 106M, and the Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji 104M.
Rob’s return to competitive running and entrance into the world of ultra running has been an amazing, welcoming, and whirlwind experience and he looks forward to spending more time exploring his personal limits and the world on foot with Nathan on his back.
When I’m not training or competing, I love to: Cast a line in the river, raise a pint with friends, and cap the night off with some Netflix with Christina and our feline friends.
Something that very few people know about me is: Badminton and water polo were my favorite sports in high school.
A good title for my autobiography would be: Never Say Never—My Unlikely Journey Into the World of Ultra Running.
My favorite moment or achievement to date is: Battling the elements and the voice in my head during my Grand Canyon double-crossing Fastest Known Time. (Editor’s note: That’s from the South Rim, down and back up to the North Rim, and then down and back up to the South Rim again – 42 miles of difficult Grand Canyon running – in 6:21:47!)
The toughest moment I’ve ever experienced in a race is: Finding myself walking and doubting myself only 20 miles into the Leadville 100. (Editor’s note: He won… with the second fastest time in Leadville history.)
I live in Flagstaff because: The mountains, the people and the energy—I feel at peace here.
One thing I hope to achieve this year is: To step out of my comfort zone and grow as an athlete and individual.
The event on my bucket list is: The Hardrock 100.
My beard is: How I wooed my wife.
My pre-race superstition is: Eminem, Snoop Dog and Fun.
Nathan helps me run stronger and run longer by: Leaving no room for excuses.