I wanted to do this race as I missed out on last year’s trail relay version due to injury. Training was not bad – I had done some of the Knee Knacker training runs, and even managed to make it up to Squamish for one of their orientation runs (alas, that 37km included exactly 0km which was part of the 23km). Nonetheless, an introduction.
A girl friend and I drove up Friday afternoon, to begin our adventure. She was running 50km and was understandably more nervous. In fact, I had not seen her this nervous before any race. I silently gave thanks that I was only doing 23km. Whatever happened, my suffering would be over in half the time(or less than hers:p). I know, I’m a great friend. She had texted me, asking if I thought she could complete the distance – “Of course.”
As we sat on our balcony at Quest Condos, I marvelled at the views, not particularly concerned about the race. She was fretting about how to get to the start at Alice Lakes. Saturday night neither of us slept well. It was hot and stuffy. I woke up at six am (my race started at 8am) only a 10 minute or less walk away from the condos. She had managed to snag a ride from our condo mates. With a quick photo op, we wished each other luck, and went our separate ways. I went back to bed for a few more minutes.
I ate breakfast, barely, grabbed my pack and finishers bag (thanks Emma for being an awesome friend, and running around fetching our dirty bags and driving and all the photos!) and headed to the start. A little detour through construction = not at the start. I could see the start, but out of reach. Another quick detour, and I found the start line.
Mostly I just wanted the race to start (so it would be over and I could drink beer and watch the poor souls who had chosen longer versions). Secretly (or not so secretly) I was envious of those who had chosen the longer distances. (Note: I told my sister part of me wished I could run 50km this year, and she told me I was pathologically ill.) She has a point.
Those feelings of envy quickly dissipated. Promptly at 8am, we were off, under the inflatable arches at Quest University – up, up and up, through trails, and up some more. I played tag with Melissa, but she and a girl (who told us it was her first trail race) quickly disappeared. Caught them at the 4.5km aid station. Melissa and I ran together for the next few km till she disappeared again. Somewhere in there, we ran an uphill stretch of exposed single track (only time of day the sun came down on us). I wasn’t very happy.
Nearing the 12km aid station, I caught Melissa and the girl (who had caught up with me somewhere before the 12km aid station and passed me). At the Aid station I thought roughly only 10km left, how bad could it be? Never think that. A nice volunteer filled up my camelback, I stuffed some m & m’s in my mouth and a handful of chips in my mouth and I was off.
There were trails named seven stitches and panty liner which made me smile. However, Mountain of Phlegm (and the pink flag at the top of the rock) did not. Apparently there were supposed to be beautiful views, and I think there were, but I couldn’t remember, because my calves were screaming at me. The woman ahead of me might have been cursing Gary. I didn’t necessarily blame her. My only consolation was thinking: (oh those poor 50km runners, they will have run 27km, and then they have to tackle our course for the back half of their race – note I felt a mixture of pity, envy and relief when thinking of my friends)
The good thing was, I didn’t see any bears (yes, I was worried), but I did think a tree stump was a bear. I followed a woman named Miriam, who told me she had run numerous trail races, including the Trans rockies in Colorado (a 6 day trail relay race covering 120 miles and 20,000 ft of elevation gain – maybe I can talk friends into running that??). Somewhere in the last 4km, I found my legs again. I flew down the hills, navigated steep steps while my quads were screaming. I found road again, and I saw Melissa just ahead. I saw pink flagging and pylons. 1.6km left the woman told us. Four laps of the track I told myself. I recognized a friend of a friend who was volunteering and encouraged me. Volunteers rock.
Somewhere in the last 1km of the course, a marshall asked me for my bib number (tacked to my shorts). I gave it to him without missing a stride. Melissa was disappearing. How much further I asked? (1 to 1.5 km) What??? Wasn’t it 1.6km 10 minutes ago.
Not did I tell a volunteer tell me that it was the final push, did I dare push. I heard the finish line. I think I finished around 3 hours (maybe slightly over, maybe slightly under). Results aren’t up yet. I had estimated four hours so I guess I am happy.
It was a lot of climbing, but I expected that. It was technical but not nearly as technical as the Baden Powell. However, the course beat me up more than I expected. My quads still hurt, my calves were screaming at me. Bending over, and getting out of a chair sucks. Stairs aren’t fun. Getting out of bed this morning and walking to the bus stop took a little longer than usual.
I can only imagine what the 50km and 50 mile racers must be feeling today. But I still want to run 50km next year:p