Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Terry Fox Run in Creemore

Back when the earth was cooling I used to organize the Terry Fox run in Creemore.  I recall set-up being simply a table for registration and another at the 5K turn-around point.  Aid station fare included water and apples, nothing else!  The TFR was subsequently moved to Terra Nova, a small hamlet south of Creemore.  I believe the logic was that it would provide more beautiful scenery and avoid any traffic concerns due to the enormous congestion (up to 3 cars per minute) found in Creemore.

Ironically, the old Creemore route, which included County Road 9, has become rather congested (residents of Toronto:  You are welcome for this humorous interlude) over the years, now 5 cars per minute at peaks.  Unfortunately, the Terra Nova location did not attract many participants, as it is a bit out of the way.  In 2016, only 17 participants enjoyed the event.

Early this year, the Terra Nova TFR organizers Keddy and Eric, approached Lee Anne and I with a proposal to move the event back to Creemore.  Since Keddy and Eric live in Toronto and are in the country only on weekends, they felt that assistance from locals would be of benefit.

I couldn't help but compare the requirements of organizing the Terry Fox Run with that of the Creemore Vertical Challenge.  Not that it was solely a case of sending out a couple of emails and sitting back, but think of it this way:  No trail prep, bibs, prizes and timing.  Even registration is mostly assumed by the Terry Fox Foundation.  And the event day's itinerary looked like it was missing a few dozen key functions:  8:30 - registration, 9:00 - official start, 12:00 - end of event.  One big reason we agreed to help was because there was so little to do!

Sunday, September 17 turned out to be almost perfect weather.  Sunny and a high of about 25.  For the event, we had obtained permission from the county to close intersections along Library Street, which runs north/south in the middle of town.  We hoped that by doing so, Creemorites would become aware of the event, yet not disrupt Sunday morning traffic (again, Toronto, you are welcome).

The biggest stumbling block in hosting a Terry Fox Run in Creemore is getting the word out.  Yes, we placed posters in numerous stores in the area, signage around Creemore, an article in the newspaper and made sure to speak with all our friends and neighbours, but the reality is that without heavy radio and/or televised promotion, it takes time to get the word out, in a small town.  Several people who happened by the event mentioned that they had no idea Creemore was hosting a Terry Fox run.

We expected to draw 20 - 30 people, although I was hoping that more would show up.  I had placed 5 large signs around the Creemore Farmer's market, which is well attended on Saturday mornings.  The market is located at the Station on the Green, the same spot as the start/finish for the Terry Fox run.  Perhaps people would pay attention to the signage and return on Sunday morning for Canada's 150th year?  Not so much!  One cute aside about attendance is that I am very much of the mindset that if a race starts at 9:00, everyone shows up for the start.  I had forgotten that the Terry Fox Run is more of a social event and if you are not able to make it at 9:00, no problem, show up at 10:00 or 11:00!  So I was quite disappointed when only 7 people had started by 9:00.  I thought the event was going to be a bust.  However as the day progressed, people trickled in and by final count, we had about 25 participants, which is reasonable for the first year.

The Creemore chapter of the TFR raised over $1,000 for the foundation, so by that standard, the event was successful.  I would like to thank all who attended.  Organizing the event was also a blast.  Everything needed for the event fit into my car.  For the CVC, I needed 4 trucks!  Event day started at 6:30 for me, with a leisurely breakfast.  Setting up registration, the 2.5K (turn-around) aid station and all the barricades took about 90 minutes.  Tear down started at 11:45 and was complete before 1:00 PM.  By contrast, for the CVC I was up at 4:30 AM and still at it circa 9:00 PM.

Will the Terry Fox run continue in Creemore next year?  You bet!  Are there any reflection items?  Definitely.  Keddy mentioned that we should have placed posters on the barricades, so that people would know why the roads were blocked.  It might be possible to get a few minutes on the radio to promote the event.  I hope to entice a few of the Creemore businesses to help promote the event.  For those familiar with the Creemore Vertical Challenge, no, there won't be 3 kegs of Creemore ale at the finish, sorry!  We could also reach out to the surrounding towns and cities.  Running or walking in Creemore for such a great cause is worth the drive.

I would like to thanks Giffen's Country Market, who donated a bushel of their finest apples for the event.  By the way, Giffen's makes the world's best butter tarts.  Seriously, it is not possible for me to go in their store without acquiring a fix.  Giffens is the turn-around point on our 24K road route and I always carry a few coins.  FYI:  One butter tart = 2 gels.

I would also like to thank Keddy, Eric and their "voluntolds", for helping out with the event.  Our neighbours Jim, Susan and Rory also donated their Sunday morning to help with the aid station and marshalling duties.  It was nice to have a couple of experienced people at the aid station and marshalling.

So circle Sunday September 16, 2018 on your calendar and we hope to see you up in Creetown.


Cheers!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

England's Coast to Coast

We're back!

Most literature that I read about the Coast to Coast walk in England stated 2 salient points that I blithely disregarded...  1.  It is long.  At 309K (roughly 200 miles), the C2C in no way resembles a brisk walk to the store.  If a return trip to the store measures 3K, it is 103 brisk walks to the store.  2.  It is tough.  We undertook the walk in 12 days, which means slightly more than 25K per day.  At a brisk walk, that would translate into an average of 5 hours walking per day.  The main aspect of what I blithely ignored is that the terrain does not include much dead flat paved road.  In fact, during the first 4 days, picture many many mountains and a healthy does of ankle deep bogs.  Instead of a brisk 5 hour walk, some days were over 9 hours.

Let me state that the walk was definitely worth undertaking.  The views and walking-pace exposure to some of England's finest parks and town alone was worth the effort.  You cannot get the same experience by driving by moors in an automobile.  At times, we were out of sight of anything man-made, excluding the odd post or marker.  However, consider adding a few judicious rest days to your trip.  Give your legs, feet and blisters a chance to recover.

For those not fully cognisant of the definition of judicious, here is what it does NOT mean:  Do not climb Helvellyn mountain on your rest day.  The English probably pride themselves on both understatement and their ability to tough it out.  So, Helvellyn is considered a walk.  Here in Canada, we call such terrain by its correct definition, namely a cliff.  With rain threatening, Lee Anne and I cautiously navigated England's masochistic concept of a walk called "Striding Edge".  This is a fully exposed narrow rock face that is part of the "path" to Helvellyn's summit.  The day after we inched across Striding Edge, a person fell 600 feet to his death.  Another person (on the same day) also fell 600 feet WITH HIS DOG and had to be airlifted to the hospital.  Walk, my ass!  Seriously, who would take their dog on such an exposed cliff?

Okay, so you now know what not to do on your day off.  What was the walk like?  Lee Anne and I walked with our friends Russell and Jeanette, also from Creemore.  Russell and Jeanette might have been a tad apprehensive as 300+K is longer than they would normally hike, and they would be undertaking the adventure with 2 ultrarunners.  We assured them that we were slow hikers and by the second day they must have realized that this was so.  Mostly, it was Russell waiting for us during the walk.

To say there was some rain would be an understatement, by Ontario standards, but we were quite lucky and only experienced pouring rain on one day.  Most days we were treated to a sprinkling of rain, but we saw our fair share of sun.  Trekking through the bogs and moors was another story.  Bogs defy the laws of gravity.  Water seemed to run uphill in bogs.  If you are traversing a slope, the high side was always wet, whereas the low side was less wet.  The deepest bogs were at the top of the mountain passes (saddles) and while off course at one point, we walked through 10 inches of saturated peat for about a kilometer, in order to crest a ridge.  Keeping your feet dry was not an option!  I was the only member of our 4 person team to wear trail running shoes (as opposed to hiking boots) and coincidentally, I was the only person who did not develop blisters during the walk.  This was due to my running shoes drying out soon after leaving a wet section.

We took advantage of Macs Adventures, a self-guided walking tour company, to plan the trip.  Macs provides maps and literature on the walk.  They also book the hotels and B&B's; something that can be difficult if you are not familiar with where to stay in places such as Keld or St. Bees.  Most important is they arrange luggage transfer from hotel to hotel each day.  This is likely not easy, bordering on a logistic nightmare, but it allows us to walk with only a day pack, instead of 40 pounds of luggage!  Macs charges a bit for arranging the trip, but I don't feel it is overly pricey; great value for the cost.

It is hard to describe all that we saw and experienced during 12 days of walking.  At one point I laughed, because the guide book mentioned "turn right at the church".  The Church was massive and built circa 1500!  It would be a tourist attraction on its own in Canada, but in England, it barely deserves a mention.  We stayed in a hotel that was built in 1691.  I think the patroness was from the same era...  Some of the "old roads" showed evidence of having been built by the Romans.

Was it worth the cost and effort?  Definitely.  I recommend it highly.  Would I changes things?  Definitely.  We had to pass by the ruins of an incredible castle in Richmond, as we didn't have time to stay and investigate.  I think that being from Canada, I cannot grasp how much history there is in "rural" England.  We could have easily added 3-4 extra days to explore what England has to offer.


Cheers!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Preparation for Coast to Coast Walk

Lee Anne and I have been organizing a trip to England for almost 6 months now; trip details, flights, trains, gear, etc., so it is a bit surreal that we depart this Monday. I have to admit that the brunt of the trip logistics was undertaken by Macs Adventure, a company that specializes in organizing walks throughout the world.  We have taken advantage of Macs to walk the West Highland Way in Scotland and the Tour de Mont Blanc in France/Italy/Switzerland.  Yes, signing on with Macs is more expensive than organizing the trip yourself, but it is a surprisingly modest increase, especially factoring in that we have no idea what hotels are fine in Grasmere, or how to move our luggage from Shap to Kirkby Stephen.

You might note that I am bandying about the names of places I had not heard of, before signing on with Macs.  You might also have noted a key nuance in the service provided by Macs...  Luggage transfer.  I decided long ago that camping was simply not for me.  I enjoy the great outdoors (I probably spend more time outside than most), but sleeping with the bugs, climbing mountains while hauling a 30 kilo pack and spending much of the day starting a cooking fire and cleaning is no longer my model for a relaxing vacation.  Ditto for hostels.  Sleeping in hotels/B&B's and donning a light day pack for a 309K hike (walk, in GB parlance) is more ideal!

The Coast to Coast walk was designed by some sadist known as Wainwright, who considered walking from St. Bees (west coast of England) to Robin Hood's Bay (east coast) through rugged mountains and bogs, to be a wonderful way to spend a couple of weeks.  The trail passes through an area in England with the most rain (over 5 meters of rain, one year) and the guide book mentions that hip waiters come in handy, in spots.

We are looking forward to a break from training.  Yes, we plan to run on occasion during the trip, but the focus will be on walking 300+K over the 2 weeks, instead of getting in 30+K runs.


Cheers!




Monday, July 31, 2017

Ottawa 12 Hour Race Report

The current OUTRace Ultra series leader Stephen Bridson lives about 10 minutes up the road.  "Up", in Creemore parlance is north.  Towards Stayner.  Fortunately, Stephen does not live in Stayner because although Stayner is much larger than Creemore, for some intangible reason, Creemorites look down on Stayner.  Not quite the Dog River / Wullerton situation, but although Creemore is tiny, it has flair, panache and some other descriptor I have never understood...  Never jokingly suggest that Creemore is a suburb of Stayner.

It makes sense for Lee Anne, Stephen and I to car-pool to a race in Ottawa.  It is a long drive and the fuel savings alone make taking only one car worth it.  Stephen was second place in the 24 hour race with a distance of about 168K (I think) while Lee Anne was first female in the 12 hour with just over 80K.  Almost everyone had trouble with the heat.  It was supposed to be a high of 24C, but I'm sure it reached closer to 27, not factoring in the humidity.  Many people were suffering during the afternoon, with no cloud cover or shade.  I claimed to those far and near that the reason I was faring badly was because my knees were not happy running on the asphalt, which is quite true.  They are causing me much grief today, but the main reason for my less than exemplary distance is that I was under trained.  Since Conquer the Canuck, I have had severe difficulty running long.  My 28K DNF at Limberlost was the only run over 20K in the past 7 weeks.  Apparently, running 5 ultras in 7 weeks causes some longer term issues!

I managed a measly 50K in 12 hours.  Actually, I took a break after reaching the ultra distance (about 43K) in a tortoise-slow 9.5 hours, then walked 4 laps to peg the 50K.  Laps were 1.8793K, which was a long enough distance to avoid getting nauseous going around in circles, but a good distance for reaching the aid station at short intervals.

I am simply not recovered yet.  As mentioned above, walking is painful today, although if you run for 10+ hours, then drive the next day for 6+ hours, conceivably, you will be stiff and sore...  But I would like to have a word with the recovery gods.  I'm interested in their time table for my recovery.  I am not overly pleased with how long this is taking.  I want results, damnit.

The race actually went smoothly, which is probably to be expected given that I never opened it up.  I gelled every 3 laps (about every 5.6379K) and carried a bottle with Nuun on my waist belt.  I actually stayed with Lee Anne for the first 8 hours.  I think this was more because Lee Anne was struggling early in the day, than my running faster than normal.  At one point I caught up to Lee Anne and mentioned that she should not take so many walking breaks.  Her reply was that she was struggling.  I paused for a few seconds before replying because I think the last time Lee Anne declared she was struggling, was during her first marathon in 2000...  I immediately changed gears and told her to start taking more walking breaks.  It was noticeably hot.

My knees and general condition simply deteriorated over the first 6 hours.  I added walking breaks early (only 3 hours in) as I expected to be in trouble due to my lack of conditioning.  Although others were complaining of stomach issues, I fared relatively well, for such a hot day.  A significant exception to the lower mileage covered by most of the runners was Paul Chenery, who broke the 60-64 men's 24 hour Canadian record.  While most had at least one low point during the afternoon or early evening, Paul was more like a metronome - churning out the laps like clockwork.  Well done Paul!

I now have a large break, as we will be walking the Coast to Coast trail in England in August and September, returning a bit too late to make it to Haliburton.  The C2C walk starts in St. Bees on England's west coast and finishes in Robin Hood's Bay, about 309K later.

Have fun at Hali and I hope to see you at Horror Trail.


Cheers!





Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Limberlost DNF - Oops! Race Report

With 4 weeks off I figured 56K would be less of an ordeal than the pathetic 3 ultras I ran in late May and June.  If I ever make predictions about the stock market, make sure you invest heavily in the opposite direction...

Although wet, with a healthy sprinkling of mud, The Limberlost Challenge was a hoot, with perfect running weather and wonderful trails.  TLC requires considerable effort to maintain any semblance of a race pace.  Look at the results and you will note most runners seem to be taking their sweet time.  Knowing the course fairly well, I figured that 2 hours for the first 14K loop would be about right.  I was hoping to get 42K in at about the 6.5 hour mark, then slug it out with the mud for a circa 10 hour finish.

The first loop went well, with no apparent issues and completed in 2:01.  Loop 2 started well and I was confident I could keep somewhere near my schedule.  Yes, the course required a lot of effort, but I did not start too fast, was hydrating well and had no issues with nutrition.  A common theme during my training runs after Conquer the Canuck 50K, which I ran 4 week prior to TLC, was the gas tank would drop from half full to empty very quickly.  If the training runs were getting marginally better over the 4 weeks, it was never an obvious improvement.  At 20K, about halfway through loop 2, I changed from running well to barely being able to run.  Oh oh.  In most 50K's, my energy level drops progressively from about 30K to 45K, at which point I am struggling.  But struggling for 5K is normal and acceptable.  Struggling for 36K on a rugged trail is another matter.

The good news is that I experienced no cramping or knee problems.  My back fired a few shots across the prow, but all in all I was running without appreciable pain.  Or energy.  By the end of the second loop I had nothing left.  It took me 4.5 hours to run the first 28K.  Walking for another 28K and chasing the cut-off's seemed a bit too masochistic, even for me.  Although the trail was a treat, I was not prepared to endure another 6 hours and possibly face a DNF.

I plan to run in 3 more OUTRace ultras this year and if all goes well, I can still achieve the Norm Patenaude award.  But there is no more room for error.  I guess the concept of the NP award is that it is tough.  Most people cannot make it to all the races and many things can go wrong in an ultra.  Although it looks easy on paper, I am finding out it is not easy in any respect.

Lee Anne and I have the Ottawa 12 hour is in 3 weeks.  At the risk of sounding complacent, I expect this race to be one of the least difficult.  The original plan, back in April, was that I would be well rested for Ottawa, with a few 50K's and a 56K under my belt.  I would try for 80K during the 12 hours.  On paper (of course I never learn, haven't you read any of my posts?) it should be possible, even simple, as I ran 80K at Haliburton, a much tougher course, in 12:35.  80K is still my A goal, but with the way my running is going, I will be happy with 43K.


Cheers!



Monday, June 12, 2017

Conquer the Canuck 50K Race Report

I was going to add some witty addendum to the post title, such as "Though Shalt Not Runneth 3 Ultras in 2 Weeks", as the reality for me is I need longer than 6 days to recover before a 50K.  Period.  I don't know how certain people can run 50K or much longer and are ready to go the following weekend.  I could name a few, but as I'm intimating they are freaks, let's let  this one slide.  Just out of curiosity, how is the hole in your shoulder, Stephen?

This was my first time at Conquer the Canuck, so called because the highlight race is a 50K on Saturday and a marathon on Sunday.  To avoid confusion, it was decided not to include the "stage race" as part of the Ontario ultra series, so only the 50K is in the series.  The marathon is not an ultra, so it was anticipated that some of the runners would question why it was in the ultra series.

The Canuck course is a well maintained gravel or grass broadpath, with a few gentle rolling hills.  If you enjoy extremely technical surface, this race is not for you.  But if you are looking for a fast trail race (please don't look up my results just now...) or your first effort off the pavement, you are in for a treat.  With several starts and ample room to pass, there is no bunching at the beginning.  The lack of technical footing is a bonus as the race progresses and the legs tire.  There is a small navigational component, as the course meanders through forest and field.  It was well marked, but you needed to pay attention to signage to stay on the correct path.  I took one wrong turn at a T intersection, where (obviously) the arrow indicating turn right meant that I should turn left.  I had seen the arrow, but decided it indicated turn left, before I was close enough to focus on it...  Fortunately I gave it one last glance, as the runner behind me shouted that I was off course.  An interesting component of the marking was yellow tape at about 8 feet above ground on trails that were not part of the course.  Yes, there was one above me when I took a wrong turn.  Normally trail marking is at ground level, as runners are looking down.  Unfortunately, low signage blocking a trail tends to be "repositioned" by people who are not part of the race.  This has caused me a few worried moments during other races.  At Canuck, the yellow tape remains in place, unless someone deliberately tampers with it.

Conquer the Canuck Race Report

Let's nickname this race Dante's Inferno, as there was little positive while my race descended into the pits of hell.  Let me be clear that the race itself is excellent.  The race kit included a beach towel (I was sad, as I am down to my last 148 race T-shirts) and finishing included a unique medal AND a bottle of wine.  I'm going back!  Yes, I did finish, although the only reason I started the fifth loop was because I am striving for the Norm Patenaude award (you need to complete 8 ultras in the OUTRace series) and I can't make it to some of the races.

The course is 8.33K, or 6 loops for the 50K.  I was hoping to clock near 1 hour for each of the first 4 loops, then introduce walking breaks during the last 2 loops.  Did I mention I had run 2 other ultras in the previous 2 weeks?  The Sulphur Springs and Kingston 6 hour races caught up to me in fine fashion.  Having some inkling that my race was going to be less than ideal, I started at a conservative pace and walked all the gentle hills.  The legs were tired even at the start, so I was hoping they would improve after the warm-up.  First lap was clocked in 59:16 which although slow, was on pace.  The marginal recovery anticipated during the second loop never happened.  I remained tired and my stomach started to act up.  Oh-oh.  Loop 2 chimed in at 1:01, but by loop 3 I was struggling.  No power or speed and I was starting to have trouble taking in enough fluids.  The day was getting hot.  Many runners have difficulty during the first hot race of the year.  I think this was a factor in my stomach problems.  I was taking in salt, gel, calcium and I had electrolyte in my water bottle.  Loop 3 was completed in 1:04, then the wheels fell off.

I've talked before about causal relationships during a race.  20 years ago, approaching my 40's, my problem was with my back and knees.  At that time, I only had surgery on my left knee, so I would favour it.  Over the course of hours, this slight limp would inflame my back, which would result in some spectacular pain and discomfort.  If this happened early enough in a race, I would inevitably see the 3 letters DNF beside my name in the results.  Loop 4 was carnage.  I was no longer able to ingest fluids aside from a small sip here and there.  This led to cramping of my (again!) left hamstrings.  Only 28K into the race and I could not run.  The word frustrating does not truly describe how I felt.  As mentioned above, I would have packed it in after 4 loops if it wasn't for that albatross called Norm P strapped to my genitals...

Loop 4 was comprised of a slow run during the gentle downhills.  I would immediately cramp if I tried running the steeper downhills, flats or uphills.  My time was 1:18 for 8.33K of gentle broadpath.  The 2 aid stations were at 700 meters after the start, about 3K, and nearing 7K (aid station 1, again).  AS1 had an outdoor tap which emitted a fine spray.  I used this at every occasion and it definitely helped, which suggested I was experiencing some heat issues.

One reason I decided to start loop 5 was that I kept hoping I would recover sufficiently to start running again.  My legs were very tired, but it was the cramping that was forcing me to walk, not over-exerted legs.  To run, I first needed to settle my stomach, so that I could increase my fluid intake.  However, the racing gods were asleep at the wheel, because nothing I tried resulted in the slightest improvement.  I didn't know it at the time, but it would be late Saturday night before my stomach finally settled.  Loop 5 was a study in triage that left me wondering if I would ever run again.  Nothing worked, I could not drink, I could not run.  I don't think heat was a main factor, as other runners were moving steadily, if not at their normal pace.  The combination of starting a 50K on spent legs and a severely restricted fluid intake did the damage.  Loop 5 clocked in at 1:30.  Almost 6 hours for less than a marathon.  Not my day!

I started loop 6 because I had enough time to finish under the 8 hour cut-off.  No other reason.  It was a repeat of loop 5, although I had resigned myself to walking the 8.33K.  I was tired and had an occasional dizzy spell due to being dehydrated.  I kept up a very positive attitude when speaking to people (as I normally do) to avoid having someone ask me about how I truly felt.  The loop 6 death march finished in 1:33.

After completing 4 ultras in the previous 6 weeks, I had been hoping to run well during a gentle 50K trail race.  Nothing spectacular, but somewhere slightly over 6 hours.  I did not expect it to take me 7:27:00 to complete.  It seems like there has been no improvement since the beginning of the racing season.  I don't mean this is some depressing fatalistic viewpoint, but that for me, running 3 ultras in 2 weeks is not a good idea!  So I will only ever do this again if someone pays me 1 billion dollars or more.  I won't even consider it for a mere 100 million...

An interesting post-race departure for me was that I got a massage.  I think the fact that I couldn't eat and there was nobody at the massage tables played a part.  I needed to hydrate before I could drive back to Creemore, so why not?  I'll tell you why not.  My first (and last, before Canuck) massage was at the Damn Tuff Ruff Bluff Run in Owen Sound, staged by a good friend Doug Barber.  I had never had a massage, but how bad could it be?  The therapist said she provided "deep tissue" massages.  Having no idea that it was a euphemism for TORTURE, I lay down on the table.  It took me 2 weeks to recover from the massage.

With more than a little trepidation, I lay down on the massage table.  Since it was not busy, 2 therapist went to work on my calves, which were twitching.  They had some fancy name for what was happening (let me guess:  It is related to dehydration?) but they had never seen it quite so pronounced.  This happens after almost every long run, so to me it was nothing new.   The massage actually felt quite good and did not leave me in a coma.

The ride back to Creemore was interesting, especially when trying to work a clutch during heavy traffic while my legs were cramping.  I had eaten very little during the race (see stomach, above) but forced myself to eat some supper when I got home.

Well, I am most pleased to announce that I will not be posting a RR for the next 4 weeks!  I'm looking forward to running less than 25K next weekend on legs that have somewhat recovered.  I need to recover before Limberlost, as the 56K will take me close to 10 hours to complete.  TLC has a beautifully scenic course through forest near Huntsville.  The course is technical, although not overly so, but it constantly changes direction and pitch, so there is never a chance of reaching race pace.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Kingston 6 Hour Race Report: Leg Warranty Has Expired

I wrote this RR during an internet outage which lasted from 9:00 AM Monday morning until Tuesday evening...  It appears some neophyte at Bell accidentally disconnected our line.  Rather than converting all the time/date references to reflect that today is Wednesday, it would be much easier if you go back in time to Monday morning, then read this post.  Thanks.

Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 6 Hour Race Report.

There's a mouthful! In ultra-fashion parlance: The Kingston 6 Hour race. This race is truly a gem, with a very civilized starting time of 9:00 AM, and no stress regarding cut-offs or a potential DNF. I find the 1.1K loop rarely gets boring, as the scenery is diverse, with views of Lake Ontario, the old Fort Henry and the interesting architecture of the Royal Military Academy. In fact, when the going gets tough, the 1.1K course is a godsend, as it eliminates the need to focus on locating directional cues. You can turn off your navigational processing and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. There is also no need to worry about nutrition, as the aid station is never more than 6 - 8 minutes away.

Other aspects that make this race interesting is the constant meeting of other runners, as they pass you, or you pass them. Timing is accomplished by an actual human, as a pleasant contrast to most chip timed races. My timer was Pratyaya, which I mispronounced on every lap, as I greeted her yet again. I think the proper pronunciation is “Prataiya”, although I developed some interesting variations as the race progressed.

Kingston is quite the historic town, so although travelling from Toronto the morning of the race is an option, staying in or near Kingston is worth considering. We stayed (via AirBNB) the night before the race at a home roughly 10 minutes from the race. It was a rare event to have breakfast the morning of a race!

Race Report

Leading up to the Kingston 6 hour race was truly uncharted territory for me. I had never run an ultra 7 days after completing a 50K. I also had to factor in Conquer the Canuck, another 50K race I hope to complete just 7 days after Kingston. Compressing the recovery period and the taper into 6 days is something I have never even thought about. How does one do this? What makes sense? Fortunately, the condition of my legs and knees left little room for dialogue. After the Sulphur 50K, I had to take 2 days off. So, on Tuesday, I attempted a short recovery run. Nothing too long or intense, perhaps 7.5K? I made it 2K before my legs starting complaining. Loudly. I turned around and headed back home. So, with a less-than-impressive 4K run, how far do I run Wednesday? I realized that I was not going to run on Thursday or Friday, before Kingston. I ran 7.5K on Wednesday, which would have to suffice for my extensive recovery and taper runs...

Running 2 ultras in 8 days is actually quite simple, as all of your options are stripped away from you, gratuit. Should I start fast at Kingston? No. Should I continue much further than my B goal, of completing an ultra? Not going to happen. Long before the halfway mark of the race, my legs were informing me that at 43K, it would be time to pull the plug. Having little choice, I graciously complied.

The breakdown at Kingston was simple. Run the first 25 loops (about 27.5K), then introduce walking breaks at the aid station. The hope was that the legs would recover more quickly for the 50K next week. Although tired and slow, I never had much problem running when I was supposed to. In fact a few times I “forgot” to walk when I reached the aid station. After 39 loops (42.9K) I told Pratyaya that I would be walking the next loop, which would be my last. It took me 5:11 to reach 39 loops, so I was not breaking any speed records, although it felt like the correct thing to do – avoid any fast running with another ultra only 7 days away. Walking the 40th loop for a total of roughly 44K was actually more painful than running. My knees made it quite clear there would be no 41st loop! Near the end of the race, each runner is given a small bag of sand with their name. When the race hits exactly 6 hours, car horns sound and runners drop their bag of sand. 2 gentlemen with a wheel, trace the course and mark down how far each runner went on their last (partial) loop. The leader-board only shows the full loops completed.

Some of the other runners at Kingston need mentioning. April Boultbee lapped me more than 20 times! April pushed hard and I believe she either achieved or was close to a Canadian record. Pablo Espanosa also went by me like clockwork, completing 63+ laps. Both of these incredible runners will represent Canada at the World 24 Hour race in Belfast on Canada day (July 1)! Paul Chenery placed 2nd male with 57+ laps, which is outstanding for someone in my age bracket. Well done Paul! Another good friend Charlotte Vasarhelyi (also going to the 24 hour Worlds) cranked out 55+ laps for second place female. Speaking of runners I know, Lee Anne Cohen placed 3rd female, which is astounding for a 63 year old. Well done dear!

Many of the runners ran stupid-long distances at the Sulphur Springs race last weekend. It was almost embarrassing when I mentioned I had “only” run 50K the week before. I am typing this as a text document instead of on Blogspot because our internet is currently MIA, so I can't provide the distances run by Paul Chenery, Ron Gehl, Jeff Ishazawa et al, at Sulphur, but it was something to behold.

I am also typing this on Monday instead of Sunday as I worked in Toronto yesterday, helping my son-in-law Daryl rip carpeting and trim out of his new house. That was not easy, although recovery is a bit better than last week; I even toyed with going for a brief recovery run. In retrospect, it would not have been wise.

I am very much looking forward to having a few weeks off after the Conquer the Canuck race this coming Saturday! Even factoring in the ultras, my weekly distance has decreased. I am spending too much time recovering and tapering. It will also be good not to drive somewhere far for a weekend.

Cheers!