Thursday, December 27, 2012

Forecast: 4cm of snow?

I know, I live in Creemore where the weather is either extremely awful or extreme...  By now, I should be used to the forecast being somewhat understated.  However, when they called for mucho snow in T.O. and only a sprinkling in Creemore, I look forward to sending that smug email to Torontonian runners:

How's the weather?  Having fun running through a foot of snow on traffic snarled roads?  We have 4cm on the ground and the TRAIL running is perfect.  See you soon!

Unfortunately, most weather forecasters live in Toronto and if they are predicting local accumulation, I don't think they truly care what might happen in hicksville Creetown.  We have 4cm of snow, no doubt.  In fact, I think we are getting about 4cm per hour at the current rate.  I found the tractor, so I shouldn't complain too much.  Better yet, it had fuel, so all I had to do was plug it in, wait for another 4cm of snow to fall, then start it.  Cleared the laneway, which is about a half kilometer long.  By the time I was done, it was only 4cm deep.  I can wait until tomorrow to blow it again.

Ran 13K with Lee Anne on Christmas day.  We were going to run road as the Run4RKids race is in 10 days and takes place on an indoor track.  I have considerable trouble running on roads (or the treadmill) when the trails are still hypothetically runnable.  Since the roads were a bit greasy, we decided to run Collingwood Street, which happens to have a 4K hill (Hill #1 on the CVC course is the top part of this hill).  At the top of the hill is the gully, which has a stream crossing, then another hill on the far side.  My theory (I know, red warning lights are flashing everywhere) is that the stream crossing would be easy, as it was -5C and the snow was not melting.  I suggested that we run the gully.  Apparently, I miscalculated by about 20 feet.  That's how wide the "stream" was at the trail.  Through some creative hopping and tree climbing, I stayed dry, but Lee Anne got one foot wet.  As we were out for a short run (Lee Anne only ran 30K), it was not overly significant.  Since the trails had about 4 inches of snow, it took us 90 minutes to cover the first 10K.  I'm okay with that, as I need some time on my feet.

With the Creemore snow run in a mere 17 days away, I am duty-bound to run the course today.  The trail portions have a foot of snow, but there are some drifts that might make this into a challenging run...  I'm also toying with running the course in reverse, so that I can hang the ropes.  Can't wait!

If you are lucky enough to have some time off this week, do get out for a run in the snow.  It is a lot of fun this time of year, as the novelty has not worn off.  Although the running is slow, the footing is surprisingly good, what with soft ground under the snow.  Carry water if you plan on running more than 10K, as it will take longer than in the summer.  Friends have told me over and over to include a warning when giving advice on running, but I can't remember why, so I'll make it up:  Use the ropes when running cliffs in less than 2 feet of snow.  There.  That should help.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Post Holing in December!

High winds last night, with a bit of snow.  It's funny how unprepared you are to comprehend there are drifts between the house and the driveway.  Not to sound overly pessimistic, but I place a snow shovel near the front door in late August.  It was needed this morning.  I even plugged in the tractor and blew snow from the laneway.  It didn't really need clearing, but it is good to confirm the snowblower is operational before a foot of snow drops.

Ran the ridge run today.  This run is 7.5K, comprised of trail and road and a scattering of cliffs.  Challenging, with the odd knee high drift.  I took the ropes down at the cliffs for use on the Creemore 100 mile course and have not yet put them up in their normal spots.  Nothing like a bit of scrambling on a short run!

The first field section had a good sized drift along the river.  It was something else, hyperventilating less than 1K from the start.  Ah!  The joy of trail running in the winter!

Gearing up for the Run4Rkids 6 hour event.  Haven't run on an indoor track in years.  I figure running snow laden trails is completely similar to the indoor track?

Anyway, off from work for 11 days and hoping to run more often.  Keep warm and enjoy the winter running!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Creemore 100 Mile Challenge: Soul Sucking Mud!

This time I would like to start by thanking all the people who put effort into this event!

Jodi Langely, race director.  The Creemore 100M is a Fatass (free) event, so you know how much Jodi makes from the race.  She also committed her own funds to any items that are imperative to a successful race, but might not be supplied by the runners.  In a fatass, the runners supply all the materials for the event, but Jodi could not leave to chance that some runner would show up with a port-a-potty.  So she ordered one.  And belt buckles, propane tanks, tarps and 1,000,000 other items.  I am positive Jodi is out of pocket.  I just don't know by how much.

Stuart Lombard.  Stuart has a beautiful house in the hills surrounding Creemore.  He does not need the inconvenience of having 40+ runners (includes pacers) on his trails for 10 - 15 loops.  Fortunately, Stuart is not only a neighbor, but a runner and has a keen passion for the sport.  Securing a key component of the 100 mile course (Stuart's trail) was too easy, as Stuart was more than willing to share his trail.

Volunteers.  I would truly love to list all their names, but would miss some for sure, as I did not see or speak with them all.  Some showed up Friday evening and left Sunday afternoon.  All were pivotal in assisting the runners when bad weather turned to cataclysmic Armageddon late Saturday night.

Runners.  It might seem strange to thank the runners in an event that is free.  They just sign up, show up, hand over items they need to run the race, and run.  The runners make the biggest effort in any race.  I would propose that for the 2012 Creemore 100 Mile Challenge, they dug a little deeper.  Even those who did not grasp the belt buckle at the end of 100 miles, went well beyond what most runners are willing to endure in the name of testing oneself.

Runners 16, Weather 11

In case you have ever had a hypothetical debate about what is the toughest running conditions, the answer is mud.  The race started with -5C and snow.  Footing was good, required more energy than running on dry trail, but no wasted effort in forward motion.  About 6 hours into the race, -2 and ice became the dominant surface.  Ice requires careful foot placement, slowing down and always having an escape route.  Runners in the 2012 Creemore Vertical Challenge will appreciate the following...  18 hours after the race started, at 02:00 on Sunday morning, the course was deluged by pounding rain, +3 degrees and 50 KPH winds.  As reported by almost every runner, the course could not be navigated, let alone run.  A course that is normally run with some effort at 1:20, became a nightmare to complete in under 2 hours.  A good example is Steve Beach's time.  In 2010, Steve was second overall in a time of 21:58.  The course had about 3 inches of snow.  Today, Steve finished in 26:53.  In Steve's word, when his pacer, the accomplished Adi Schnall had to stop supporting him, "I fell apart".  A 5 hour difference!

Dale Draaistra is on the podium at ultras with annoying regularity.  Granted, the running earlier in the day was "easier", but completing a loop of the 10.6K Creemore loop in under 1:10 is very tough.  Dale ran 4 loops (an ultra in itself) in under 1:10 per loop!  Dale shaved almost 2 HOURS off the record.  And Steve Parker was not far behind, in a time of 19:22.  Kiriam, one of Ontario's finest ultra runners (she lives in Barrie, practically a neighbor!), clocked the 100 miles in 20:24.  Wow!

The other 13 finishers were Andrew (25:20), Bill (27:43), Catherine (28:46), Debbie (22:03), Eman (25:01), Keith (also from Barrie - 23:01), Lisa (21:11!), Phil (24:51), Sharon (25:21), Steve Beach (26:53), Stephen Bradshaw (25:32), Scott Garrett (23:29 - his 12th 100 Miler in 2012!) and Wayne (22:23).  A special note about Wayne Cho.  This was his first ultra race.  Yes, 100 miles.  Go big or go home!  Wayne is no stranger to running, having run across Canada...  I would classify that feat as an ultra!

The weather started moderate for Ontario in December, got a bit worse, then turn downright nasty.  At 04:30 Sunday morning, the 5K aid station called that they were not able to support runners as they were holding on to the 2 tents, or the tents would blow away.  I headed up to the AS pronto, leaving my coffee at the start/finish behind.  We did a complete makeover of the AS in about 15 minutes!

Runners who routinely complete long ultras were dropping like flies.  Those who persevered versus those who dropped made no sense.  Lee Anne (my wife) dropped at 94K, a long distance for her, but well within her means.  One of this year's ultra phenoms, Jeff Ishazawa?  Not today.  Kinga and Stephan Miklos?  Although both claimed to be under-trained, dropped.  Chris Battaglia (sorry about the spelling)?  Mr. automatic, who although not the fastest, hit the finish line about 35 times in 2012?  Forced down to a walk, with time running out.

All runners deserve to be proud of their accomplishments this weekend, in weather that was not conducive to finishing a 20K, let alone 160.9946K.  Well done.

After the race, a host helped clean up.  Jodi, who had not slept since early Saturday morning, reminded me of the eveready bunny.  I think she was afraid to shut her eyes, as it could very well mean waking up Monday morning!  We had some interesting items left at the race site.  Normally, Lee Anne and I are grateful for the odd gel or bottle of Gatorade left behind by someone too tired to care about finding such an item, when heading home.  This race, we had leftover gels, head lights and a car.  Unfortunately, Kiriam came by Sunday afternoon to pick up the car...

Quote of the race stems from a Michigan runner.  I think his name is Phil and I paraphrase, as I was too tired to remember it accurately:  "I have never seen a trail in such bad condition, that I could not walk it.  I had to walk among the trees in order to find some footing".  This from an experienced trail runner!

A last note on garbage.  After breaking trail at Dirty Girls last year, I made the mistake of mentioning to Kinga Miklos that when people drop garbage on the trail, they should do so near a flag, so the volunteer does not have to bend down an extra time to pick up the garbage.  I almost avoided the explosion.  Kinga was adamant that YOU DO NOT LEAVE ANY GARBAGE ON THE TRAIL.  She is, of course, 100% correct.  If you eat a gel, put the garbage back in your pouch.  Yes, it is sticky, that is too bad.  At Dirty Girls, I collected 2 garbage bags of trash from the trails.  Granted, a lot was trail tape.  At the Creemore 100 Mile race?  I found 1 gel container, 1 bottle from a hydration belt and a baggy with 3-4 salt caps.  I honestly believe that none of these were deliberately thrown onto the trail.  If someone who has run for 25 hours can carry out their trash, so can someone running a 10K.

Will there be another Creemore 100 Miler?  To be honest, although the weather has been nasty, we have not seen extremes that can occur in early December.  It is also an expensive proposition to undertake.  The cost, coupled with the potential for more serious issues (no marshals, no ambulance, inadequate quarters at the 5K aid station and a plethora of other potential risks), dictates that the event should not be repeated.  There is talk of a point-to-point 100 miler in the area around the same timing.  There is definitely demand for such an event, but the demand should be met with adequate precautions.