"You did an ultra?!" I hear all 3 of you yelling incredulously. Leg 2, at least. I've never done a trail race before, so why not when Rich (of Harvest Half and general fame) asked me to fill a space in his company team.
The Canmore Nordic Centre hosted the 1988 Winter Olympic cross-country and biathlon events. I am a complete novice in the trail world, but I think it's a good place for an event like this. There were 5 legs, each starting and finishing at the Nordic Centre. Some were doing it as part of a relay, others solo. My fastest friend Scott was doing the solo, his first ultra. 8 days post-Harvest Half, my aim was to enjoy it and not lose any body parts.
It was sunny most of the day, though slightly chilly. Brent started for us, amidst a field of serious soloists and teams as well as those happy to finish and a team of guys dressed as
Back indoors for an hour to keep warm and then my turn. My barely used Salomons got an outing, and my feet had superb grip for the entire leg. I now have a Garmin forerunner 410, a GPS watch, which I still have trouble finding my way around.
|I have no idea what I'm doing here.|
Brent came in for the handover, and I had to be reminded to take my coat off. Rich, who was going to be doing leg #3, reminded me to take the chip-armband off when I got back for a quick handover.
My watch went back to normal time mode when I got the chip, so I spent half of the first hill stabbing my wrist getting it going/ set. That was the least of my worries. Having not seen a couple of the signs, I must have taken a hairpin bend too many. Without signs I could see, I followed the 2 guys in front. Their fault. Stopping for a brief conference, I suggested keeping going away from the Nordic centre, and after about 10 minutes saw leg #2 signs again.
Most of my leg was spent being passed/ re-passing an experienced trail runner, doing the entire race solo. He would tend to fly past on the downhills and I'd re-pass on the uphills. I tried to follow the line he picked, and also which surface - sometimes the grass edge, or mud or gravel, etc. Some of the rockier sections - 10 cm loose rocks, he was able to effortlessly skip across while I would walk in the fear of turning my ankle.
One solo lady runner was passing/ repassing me later on in a similar manner. I passed her at the halfway drink stop. When she re-passed I thought she'd disappear into the distance. When I came over a brow however, she was stretching her hamstring. After this, I was swapping places with both of these 2 until the finish of the leg, which was only halfway for them.
My 12k leg was, according to my new watch, 12.7 including the wrong turn. I finished up in 1 hour 6 minutes.
I had the chip ready to hand over, and Rich arrived from a bio-break a few seconds later. Apparently, I appeared at the top of the hill just seconds before he went.
Rich overtook Scott right at the end of his leg. This was about 38 km into it for Scott by this point, and must be the first time I've seen him looking fatigued.
Nicole headed out for leg #4. My camera work was all over the place (holding headcam in hand), so no action shots I could really use. She's in orange above. Ashley is below, next to guy in black.
I had the camera pointing up at the end, so missed Ashley bringing it home for the team. Quite pleased after the finish though. We finished 12th in the team event, with a time of 4 hours 31 minutes.
Scott managed 5th place in the solo event, picking up a couple of places in the last 10k from good pacing.
A week later, my hip flexors are somewhat paying for the downhills, though I wouldn't have traded this for mere rest. What new thing's next? A sub-3:20 marathon (road!) on December 2..
The headcam movie is here. I am seriously contemplating upgrading to a gopro, I would like California International Marathon to not look like I'm disappearing down the San Andreas fault.