Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pre-Race Report: Creemore 100 Mile Challenge

Is there such a thing as good weather in Creemore?  We all know there is exciting weather in Creemore.  The Creemore Vertical Challenge in July experienced 3 inches of rain in the first hour of the 50K race.  The runners probably did not notice since they were busy trying to avoid being struck by lightning and to climb hills that were conveniently converted into mudslides.  What fun!

And in previous years, brutal baking hot temperatures made sure the runners heart rates were tapped out on the flats (or is it the flat?), let alone while striving to run up a 600 foot vertical hill in the heat...  More fun!

In 2009, the OUS Spring Warm-up was held in Avening, a hamlet quite near Creemore.  The race started in gale force winds and sleet, then the weather turned bad...  I was asked by 2 runners if they could run the course backwards (counterclockwise instead of clockwise).  Why?  When running clockwise, the section of the course that went north was on top of the Niagara Escarpment and they were not able to make headway into the wind...  The fun never stops, enjoy the buffet!

So when the long range forecast for December 1 & 2 called for sunny skies and a high of +3, I waited...  And waited.  I even had the temerity to joke that if the weather was good (okay, I'll say it - IDEAL) I would catch flak from those who had braved the Spring and July races.  Now that the forecast has turned south, what the hell was I thinking, taunting the weather gods? Will I ever learn?  No, don't answer that.  I'm 54 and don't need the constant reminders.

For those of you reading this blog with trepidation (that would be the 29 rationally challenged individuals who signed up for the Creemore 100 Mile Challenge), rest assured that the weather is not horrific.  There, now I've eased your minds!

I ran the course this morning and it is in surprisingly good shape.  To preface the course update, it has been snowing "a bit" in Creemore for the last 3 days.  The backroads have about 2 inches of snow (most have not seen a plow) and the trails have about 3 inches of snow.  The footing is mostly good, with a few slippery parts.  I have added a rope with knots at the steep downhill leading to the ridge run (the trail with 20 foot cliffs on each side) and cut stairs directly before the beaver dam.

The course requires effort to run, but has several long, gradual downhill sections where recovery is facilitated.  You still need to burn calories to complete the 10.6K loop, but it is not a constant grind.  I ran the 3 uphills (since I was only running one loop) and although tough, the course is not much more effort than running it when dry.

A huge thanks to Elise Maguire, who will be marking the course on Friday.  I have run out of spare vacation days (I only get 34 per year) so it will be nice to ensure the course is well prepped the day before the race.  Elise needs volunteer hours on the trail (as opposed to at an aid station) for entry into a race (I have forgotten which).  Not a bad idea!  Although fun, setting a course requires considerable time and effort.  Much appreciated, Elise!

Well, let's get it over with...  The Forecast:


Good!  Cloudy with a low of -4 and warming to +2.  This should keep the course from getting too muddy.  Not too cold, so changing clothes every loop is not needed.  The footing should be good (frozen) until later in the day.


Could be worse...  A low of +2 and a high of +7.  Light rain.  The course will degenerate overnight.  Hopefully, the runners will be far enough into their race that 2 - 3 final loops in the rain will not be significant.  Change into dry clothes every loop or simply push through.  I talked to Jeff Ashizawa after his 48 hours at Dirty Girls and he claims the runners would have done much better had it rained Saturday instead of Friday.  Perhaps Jeff is the reason for the forecast?  Jeff:  Did you want rain on Sunday?  Probably an academic question as Jeff is likely to finish before the rains makes an appearance.


The Creemore 100 Mile Challenge is a Fatass.  What this means is that it is not a sanctioned race.  No person or body assumes responsibility for race details, such as aid station stock, volunteers, insurance, etc.  This is all the responsibility of the runners.  Hence the race is "Free" (try telling that to yours legs at the finish) as no one is ensuring the well-being of the runners.  A good example is there are currently positions available for volunteers at the 5K aid station on Saturday night.  If these positions are not filled, there will be less support for the runners.  This is fine, as the runners simply need to take care of their hydration / nutrition requirements themselves.  However...

Come on down to Creemore for an action packed night of cheering, yelling and yes, even whooping!  We have 29 runners who would truly love to see you Saturday night / early Sunday morning.  See the greats, such as Stephan and Kinga Miklos, the incredible Jeff Ishazawa and returning from an amazing showing at the 24 hour worlds, Sharon Zelinski!  Get autograph worth hundreds of pennies!  Rub shoulders with the who's who in Ontario Ultra running!  Have the time of your life and most importantly, see people that look and feel much much worse than you!

A bit of a plug for vollies; please contact Jodi Langley if you can help out:

Hope to see you next Saturday!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Creemore 100 Mile Training Run

Practice makes perfect, so in order to prepare for a 100 mile race, it is important to preview as many facets of the race as possible.  This applies mainly to the runners, but is also important for pacers, volunteers and the race directors.

A training run also helps with the last minute details.  Do we need a port-a-potty for 30 runners?  Not necessarily, but what about the 20+ pacers and 25+ volunteers?  Suddenly my cute little bathroom looks ill equipped to handle 75+ people over the weekend!  There was also some secret details to discuss and what better place than the anonymity of the trail?

The nicest aspect of a training run is that it is a chance for runners, pacers, volunteers etc. to get out for a run, but also spend some time socializing after a "short" (only 6 hours!) run.  This typically does not happen after a 100 miler, as everyone is cold and tired.  A bed has more appeal than sharing a glass of wine with a friend!  So we sat after the training run for a surprisingly long time, discussing the beautiful weather (it was sunny and 8C) and the upcoming race.

I am recovering from a cold that has an annoying aspect; I cough incessantly throughout the night.  I had doubts that I could run today, but gave it a try anyway.  Got in 10.6K on a beautiful day, with about 20 friends.  Could not have asked for more!  Might even go out for a repeat tomorrow.

Got some pictures, including a great shot of Jeff, Marylou, Maryka and Jodi high-fiving (yes, it's a real word, don't bother looking it up) after completing 4 or 5 loops of the course.  Also of Ron and his pacer (yes, I'm terrible with names, how did you know?):

2 weeks until race day!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Phlegm Phor All!

Sorry about the title...  Lee Anne and I are both sick and I have come to the conclusion that the reason I get so tired when sick is because it takes a tremendous amount of energy to convert half my body weight into phlegm...

I had visions of writing this entry about how fabulous it felt to run 25K this weekend, even though I'm ill.  Guess what?  I did not go for a run.  I cut the grass on about 600 meters of the Creemore 100 Mile course, which left me panting, sweating and in dire need of a nap.  Lee Anne ran 51K on Friday, took Saturday off, then 50K on Sunday.  She is as sick as I am, so apparently we know who is the macho member of our family.

So, that's it!  No run this weekend (probably for the best), but I hope to be back on the trails tomorrow.

I keep dreaming that the weather for the 100 mile race on December 1&2 will be close to what we had today:  Blue skies, warm (for December) and DRY trails.  I know I'm dreaming and if it did transpire, several of the Creemore Vertical Challenge 50K alumni would be out to lynch me.  Nevertheless, the local trails are in fine shape and one can only hope that they remain decent, until the race.

A huge thanks to Stuart Lombard, who is allowing us to run his trail (the ridge run) for the training run on Saturday, November 17 and for the race on December 1,2.  Stuart is also a runner and I hope he runs a loop or two with us next weekend.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Snow Run!

Well, it had to happen eventually.  Lee Anne and I ran with Cathy, a longtime friend that hangs out with the Borden Striders.  I hear through the grapevine that the Striders will be hosting trail races at Base Borden again next year.  Not sure if it will be the same format (5K, 8K, 10K, 10K, 5/21.1K) but should be interesting!  It can be quite challenging running on the base, with snipers trying to drop you, explosions all around and the constant shouting.  I may be exaggerating...

What happened?  Snow.  Just a few flakes on the ground in Creemore, but once we climbed the escarpment, it is a whole different world up there!  4 inches of snow on some of the trails, unplowed roads with 3 inches of slush, snow and sleet stinging the face...  Wonderful!

Although slow, I managed a respectable 18K that included some significant hills (is there any other type of run in the Creemore area?) and enough snow to up the exertion.  Lee Anne remarked that if these are the conditions during the Creemore 100M on December 1/2, it could get ugly!

The scenery was certainly worth the discomfort.  snow-clad branches overhanging the trails, beautiful sun drenched vistas to the west and what could only be described as weather that depicted toxic Armageddon to the east.  A snow-laden streamer coming off Georgian Bay had just the right colouring of the apocalypse.  We saw white-tail deer twice and red deer, which was easy to arrange as we ran past a farm that raises red deer!

So now we will prepare for 30 adventurous runners (there are other descriptions for people that attempt 100 miles in Creemore in December, but let's be polite) who will test their abilities in what could be a harsh environment.  I had planned to mow the grass on one of the trails this weekend, but it would have been tricky as it was covered in snow.  I still hope for reasonable running weather in early December.  Stranger things have happened!  But if there is a sprinkling of snow, the runners had best bring their A game...  Completing the race could take total commitment and effort.