Looking Up Into The Sky For Energy At 24 Heures La Tuque

Courtesy of Nasser Elshazly, La Tuque, Québec, Canada.

24 Heures La Tuque (or the Le Marathon de 24 Heures de La Tuque) was a renowned 24-hour non-stop professional relay race that was held in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The event was the brainchild of Mayor Gaston Fortin of Ville La Tuque. The race saw upwards to 20 two-person teams against each other and the clock. The ran started at 3 pm on Saturday and ended at 3 pm on Sunday.

The race was staged in an egg-shaped Lac Louis (Lake Louie) in Québec. The course was a one-third of a mile plus 11 feet that paralleled the shore so crowds of thousands cheered on the professional marathon swimmers day and night. One athlete would swim while the other rested. The teams had different strategies that suited their strengths.

The mayor was challenged by Canadian professional marathon swimmer Réjean Lacoursière to create a professional marathon swim in Lac Louis in 1965. Beginning in 1965 with $3,000, Lacoursière competed with other professional swimmers that first year. The last event was held in 1981.

The stories from Lac Louie are numerous and almost too dramatic to believe.

At the 1974 24 Heures La Tuque, John Kinsella teamed up with Sandra Bucha who ended up swimming 100 laps to Kinsella’s 94 to set the record of 194 laps or almost 104 km total. Bucha’s father and trainer Colonel Paul Bucha reported, “[Sandra] feels better now at 2 am than she did six hours ago.”

By 5 am as the morning light was coming up, 14 hours after the start, Bucha explained why she felt good, “You look at the sky and get energy.” She and Kinsella won again in 1975 [see results below].

Some of the greatest marathon swimmers of that era competed in the races that were held between 1965 and 1981. They included Abou Heif, Sandra Bucha, John Kinsella, Paul Asmuth, Bill Heiss, Gilles Potvin, James Kegley, Nabil El Shazly, Abdul Latif Abou Heif, Nasser Elshazly, Réjean Lacoursière, Herman Willemse, Claudio Plit, and Marwan Shedid.

1975 24 Heures La Tuque Results:
1. Sandra Bucha + John Kinsella: 191 tours
2. Magdy Mandour + Marawan Ghazzawi: 181 tours
3. Maher Saleh + Marwan Saleh: 180 tours
4. Ossama Rashad + Amin Yousseff: 177 tours
5. Jennifer Anderson + Richard Campion with handler Chris Guesdon: 169 tours
6. James Stewart + Baher Hamid: 162 tours
7. Sahar Mansour + Diana Nyad: 161 tours
8. Jacques Fordham + Daniel Piché: 135 tours
9. Yvon Montpetit + Georges Blazy: 133 tours
10. Gilles Potvin + Raymond Cusson: 109 tours
Amateurs:
Johanne Thomson + Jocelyn Dufort + Michael Dumond + Jean Boudreault: 180 tours

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