This race has been an annual event for me since moving to North Vancouver in 2007. Typically this time of year in Vancouver sees a plethera of rain with the exception of 2009 (it snowed) and this year was no exception. Most of the day we encountered monsoon like conditions. Yet 106 hearty souls toed the line including "Rain, No Train" Ean Jackson who was making this his 100th ultramarathon.
A group of 4 consisting of David Papineau, Dario Herrera, Sammy and myself spent many miles shooting the shit and wondering when we would catch Ryan Conroy who had bolted from the starting gun like he was running from the cops. It took quite sometime but just past the turnaround at the halfway mark we got him. Shortly after Papineau threw down some speed intervals with over 10 miles to go and he was never seen again. I found myself beside Sammy with a few miles to go and we cruised in together under 4 hours and the old course record but 4 minutes behind the studly "Big Papi." I then proceeded to set the world record for the longest hot shower!
CALGARY FROZEN ASS 52k
February I had plans of doing a back to back ultra weekend with the Pemberton 50k in Arizona on Saturday and the Calgary Frozen Ass 52k the next day. Unfortunately I came down with pnuemonia the week of that plan and cancelled the Arizona portion of the plan but kept the Calgary portion alive as I used Air Miles to book that leg of the flight and didn't want to waste them!
All things considered the race went well and I finished in 3:46 about 90 seconds behind the leader. I would of liked a little more zip in the legs in the final few miles to make a charge at the leader but the lungs didn't want to cooperate with that notion.
Next up on the racing list was the Chuckanut 50k. The field was absolutely stacked this year. A
typical year has seen times around 4:05-4:10 take the "W." I had a decent start to the race and found myself hovering around 10th about 1/3rd of the way through the race heading up Cleator Road to the Ridge Trail. I chatted with Peter Ellis for a brief bit and he mentioned that he was ahead of his pace when he ran 4:05 two years back en route to a 2nd place finish. The next 5-6 miles I got passed a few times and got depressed. Not at the time I was running but more on the position I was in.
Looking back I'm a little frustrated with myself for this. I had a decent time going and lost time just by giving up because I wasn't as high up as I wanted to be. I finished in 4:21 and 18th place. I really want to head back next year and have another good go at this course. I know I have more in me on that course and will just focus on running my time goal and my race plan.
MT SI 50 Miler
3 weeks later was my return to Mount Si for the 50 miler. I actually wrote a somewhat lengthy blog post on the recap of this race so won't go into too much detail other than my plan was to break the course record. It ended up being a lot closer than I would have liked but managed to break it by 22 seconds. I was very happy with the time of 5:54:15 and it looks like that time might hold up for one of the top 10 times for 50 miles in North America for 2010 and will likely be the fastest 50 mile time by a Canadian.
CAPITOL PEAK 55k
Riding that high I made a last minute call to head down to the Capitol Peak 55k (which I'm convinced was closer to 60k!) It was refreshing to run some trails I've never been on and had very little effect of the effort at Mt Si two weeks prior. Managed again to bag a win in 4:45:32.
After this race my focus shifted to train for Western States. I had found out that I got in and the race was a mere 7 weeks away. May was a massive mileage month, knocking down
501 miles to be exact. No races just heavy mileage.
LAKE YOUNGS 50k
To tune up for Western and try to get some heat training in (our high temperature in May and early June was something like a whopping 60F!) I went down to the Lake Youngs 50k (actually 47k) in Seattle. The forecast called for 70F for the race so I was jacked to use this as my heat training long run - pathetic I know!!!
The course was a very boring 3 loops around a lake that you never got a view of. However it was very well organized and friendly. I enjoyed it and didn't do anything to stupid and ran a solid 3:17 to grab a 3rd win in a row.
WESTERN STATES 100
Then the big clusterfuck at Western States. Still not entirely sure what my issue is with that race but were not on speaking terms nor do I ever wish to head there again, wearing a race bib anyways. This was my 3rd kick at the can at WS100, my 3rd different strategy and approach and the 3rd time I've had the same result which left my pants sans buckle. I'm okay with letting Western States win. I know I am not a 100 mile runner (unless I'm holding hands with Wakefield running from hillbillies through the Ozarks). Maybe in my next life I'll be a 100 mile runne
r but for now I really just need to stick to stuff I'm good at. And stuff that leaves me in a coherent enough state to drink beer after crossing the finish line!
I got a little depressed after the Western debacle and didn't run much in the following weeks. I mostly just lazed around the house eating Joe Louis' and watching soap operas in my moo-moo. Then I remembered I agreed to pace Jackie Muir for the Fat Dog 100 miler. Well, actually, I had initially said I would enter the race and run the full 100 miles with her. That was back in my younger days when I was ambitious and foolish. We both agreed me pacing her for the last 60 miles was probably a safer option.
FAT DOG 100 Mile +++++++++++++++++++
This race made Horton Miles look short! The course was terribly mis-labelled. It was billed as runable and fast. It was not runable, orienteering at times, measured in nautical miles and then some and so on and so on. The leaders hit the "54k" aid station over 8 hours into the race. I knew then this was going to be a LONG day out there. I had projected Jackie would finish in 22-24 hours. I picked her up at the "70k" aid station almost 14 full hours into the race, with the toughest section still ahead! Being at aid stations I had heard all the reports from runners and relay people saying how long the course was. A leg that was billed as 17 miles ended up being 26 miles.
I tried to keep Jackie motivated and figured maybe someone just screwed the pooch on that section and it would get better and more accurate the rest of the way. WRONG! I had been running/walking with Jackie for 3 hours and we still hadn't hit the 85k water drop. Finally 3h0
2m later we finished the 15k flat section and got to the water. Next up 15k more to the manned aid station where the crew was and all downhill, 4000ft net loss of elevation. We ran, and ran, and ran and Jackie came back to life. 2 hours in no sign of the station. 2.5 hours, no sign, 3 hours, no sign, 3.5 hours no sign. WTF?! 3h46m later we finish the 15k downhill segment! The aid station tells us the reports have been that section was actually 48k not 30k. I vow to buy the RDs a calculator for Christmas. I start doing math in my head and realize this is going to be a long time. Jackie is determined to finish. I get another crew member to be ready to pace at the next checkpoint so I can grab a quick nap and have energy for the last section which is supposed to take 6-7 hours. 3 hours later we pull into that station which is only 9k away. I've paced for 10 hours and according to this bloody RD we've only covered 39k!
I sleep briefly and pull into Gary Robbins aid station and we have a shot of newfie screech. Gary's been a one man party/aid station/cheerleader out in the woods. With no radio contact with the world he's got no idea what's been happening. We estimate that there may only be about 12 people left in the race! The last section is supposed to be 26k but I clearly know its a lie at this point. Jackie pulls into the station at 11am (31hrs race time). She loads up on goodies and I relieve Mike of pacing duties and we set out with Ken Legg and his pacer Action Jackson.
Jackie is in full on death march mode. We're told there is a water drop 13k into this 26k section. Its scorching out, its day two and 85F. We're headed up to an alpine meadow exposed to the sun with no shade. Its a glorious day. Jackson is doing anything and everything to keep Ken and Jackie motivated. He takes off his shorts and hikes his gonchies up his backside and makes them into a thong. This scars me but makes Jackie chuckle. We've been hiking up this 5000 foot ascent to the ridgeline for a good two hours and out of nowhere a man walking a poodle comes around one of the switchbacks. We're as surprised to see him as he is to see a man hiking with no pants and gonch converted into a thong. We figure this will make great dinner conversation for whoever he has dinner with that night.
Soon Ted from Ohio catches us and informs us he's the last runner. So Jackie, Ken and Ted form a group and agree to stay together for the remainder. Jackson and myself assume comedy duties and tell every dirty story from our ultra running careers. We hit Mowich Camp 13k from Robbins aid station. No water. All of us are out. Its been four hours since we left the aid station. I see a tiny snowbank and ask Jackson to do a naked snow angel to pep Jackie up from the disappointment of the water drop being MIA. He obliges and Ted regrets his decision to march with us. We trudge on and the hours pass. No water. No food. No help or access to get out except at the finish. The course sweeps catch us. They are out of water too. Its getting late. An hour from sundown maybe. We finally after almost 8 hours reach the water cache. According to the sweeps we have covered 22k since leaving the aid station. We are running a 26k section. We're nowhere near the finish. The group comes to grips with this section likely being at least 5 miles long too. Maybe more. The death march continues and we barely make it out of the alpine before dark. Ken is the only one who finds Jackson and my jokes about vasoline and popsicle sticks funny.
We have one lamp between five of us and the last half hour we need it and make our way to the finish line. 41 hours and 51 minutes after it started, Ken, Ted and Jackie finish the Fat Dog "100" miler.
We guestimate its pretty much bang on 200k (125 miles). My pacing stint which I thought would be maybe 10-12 hours ended up being near 30. We all have a beer and quickly pass out for well earned sleep. Jackson and myself have a morning Guinness and share stories at the cabin of the previous days adventure.
Shortly after I head out with Kristin, Mike and Megan up to Frosty Mountain for a 25k run. There isn't a cloud in the sky and stunning vistas whichever direction you look. It was a tiring climb 4500' up but worth every bit of it!
STORMY 50 Miler
This also served as one of the last training runs for Kristin's debut 50 miler at the Stormy 50 mil
er in Squamish. She was using it to get her Western States qualifier as she wants to see one of the buckles but knows I sure ain't getting one!
I ran alongside her for the 50 miles taking photos, videos and documenting how it played out. Things went remarkably well up to the 40 mile mark until fatigue set in. The last 10 miles were challenging for her but there was enough time in the bank to walk in and break 11 hours to gain that WS qualifier. We crossed the line in 10:29 and a very respectable 6th female for Kristin and mission accomplished for qualifying for Western.
RUN FOR THE TOAD 50k
In October I returned to the 9th Annual Run for the Toad 50k in Ontario with Montrail teammate Ellie Greenwood. Although this year I was a little more bulbous and a lot slower than previous years! I set an original goal in 2010 of running 5000 miles. I was mostly on track for that and entered September with 3161 miles under my belt. I needed a break. I only ran 8 days in all of September. Rare for me to run that little.
Not exactly the best time to get out of shape but I needed a body recharge and a mental recharge as well. Really not much to report from the race other than it hurt just like I thought it would. It wasn't the running 50k that was the challenge. Of the 8 runs in September I did 4 of them were 20 miles or longer. It was just that racing intensity. I had it for maybe 1/4 of the race and the rest was just a long tempo run, no extra zip, no other gears.
4:15 was the slowest I've run in the 5 years I've done that race and 5th place was the worst finish I've had there (had 1 Win and 3 silvers) but it was expected. Since then the mileage has come back to getting near the norm. Upcoming I have the North Face 50 Miler in San Francisco in 3 weeks.
Other than that I'm just trying to finalize the 2011 race plans. Hopefully I'll get a schedule nailed out soon!