By Kelly Blake
Every evening, when dinner is finished, the nightly activities of the GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run begin. Before the daily motivational slide show and video, members of the TransRockies crew speak to the runners, giving them an overview of what to expect on the next day’s stage. They share information on the route, the weather, medical advice and “housekeeping”.
The housekeeping presentation is done nightly by “Houda” and, despite the dull-sounding name, it’s always the most anticipated of the presentations. Kevin McDonald, otherwise known as Houda, goes over the not-so-exciting details of the early shuttle pick up and the duffle bag placements with enthusiasm and humor . . . if you can understand what he is saying, since it’s all delivered in a thick Canadian accent.
Houda hails from Southern Ontario and has been the director of operations for the GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run since its inception. He has years of experience working on events and met many of his current TransRockies co-workers 10 years ago at the 24 Hours of Adrenalin. Houda brings an enthusiasm for fun and hard work to everything he does. Lisa Bahan, responsible for sponsorship fulfillment, said “Houda has an amazing ability with people. He always pulls together great people for his team.” McDonald is approachable and, much like a great coach, motivates his team to work hard and have a positive attitude throughout the long TransRockies work days.
The team aspect is an area where McDonald obviously excels and it’s no surprise that his competitive background is team sports like lacrosse and hockey. Appropriately enough, his nickname comes from the iconic Canadian sport – it’s an homage to the former NHL defenseman, Doug Houda of the Detroit Red Wings. Generously described as a “journeyman” by Wikipedia, Houda averaged 2 penalty minutes and .16 of a point per game over his 561-game career. In Canada, it’s not necessarily a compliment to have your playing style compared to Houda but the nickname stuck and McDonald and his great attitude go with the flow.
Jeff Thompson, course director and ranger for the US Forest Service in Colorado, said, “He has a ‘do what I gotta do’ attitude and he does it all in good spirits.” McDonald works hard and plays hard. Martin Gaffuri, who has run all four years, simply calls Houda a “big kid.”
Whatever you call Kevin McDonald he is definitely hard working, dedicated, loyal and a good friend to have at the GORE-TEX™ TransRockies Run.