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Local ultramarathoner finishes 130 mile trail trek

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An ultramarathon runner from Valleyview has completed what he believes is the first end-to-end pass of the Columbia Plateau Trail in Washington State. Matthew Shepard, who took on the 130-mile long, 20-foot wide trail during the recent cold snap, took off from the start of the trail on February 13th at 9 a.m. and clocked his last step 40 hours and 48 minutes later, shortly after 2 a.m. Monday, February 15th.

Shepard says around 30 miles of the total trek was on what would be considered a smooth trail, with the rest filled with all sorts of Mother Nature’s hurdles.

Runner Matthew Shepard takes a moment to snap a selfie during a 130-mile marathon (Supplied, Matthew Shepard)

“The first little bit was shin-deep snow, so it was pretty tedious regardless, even though it was a smooth surface underneath,” he says. “Being there was a fresh blanket of snow over loose, fist-sized rocks, it was a lot of attention to your footing the entire way.”

Shepard says it was a test of both patience and focus as with runs on a road or a track obstructions are easier to view on a flat surface. He says the grind set in around the turn of the first 24 hours, which is to be expected.

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“I was feeling pretty good… I was tired and kind of falling asleep mid-run, which is pretty common about that far in. My feet were becoming bruised because of the constant pounding on those rocks, and there is a lot of shifting because you’re putting weight hard on the inside or outside of your foot.”

Shepard hopes the run will be a springboard to some longer runs come summertime.

“There is a route I’ve been working on that goes from the continental divide in Montana, and it runs along the Canadian border to the Pacific Ocean,” he adds.

In all, he says the upcoming run would cross roughly 1,200 miles from start to finish.

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