Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ultra Challenge Challenge

Well, it is too hot to run and I blew up my river shoes yesterday...  and tore my calf.  Not badly - it feels better already today, but why run on a 24 hour old injury?  They should age for at least 32 hours.

Here is what I do when the temperature climbs above 30:  Pick the oldest running shoes I own, run down the Ganaraska trail for 2.5K, then run into the Mad River and run upstream.  This sounds very very easy, but I assure you, it is a workout.  There is a lot of sideways travel, staggering, stumbling on rocks and the occasional face plant.  Marvelous!  Unfortunately, I only made it 1K up the river before my shoes (this is why they should be your old pair) blew up.  The bottom of the left shoe detached except for part of the heel.  I was able to run if I combined the Monty Python silly walk with a Terry Fox hop.  If you miscalculate, your nearly bare foot lands on sharp rocks.  I think most people would realize it was not working, but I was game for about 200 meters before succumbing to the inevitable.

This is where I made a mistake.  I know, perhaps this was not my first mistake of the day.  I have never tried barefoot running.  Current literature indicates it is best to try barefoot running in a controlled environment.  Definitely not on jagged rocks in a river, but also not on rough trail with cliffs along a river.  So I decided that running with a sock on my left foot and a running shoe on my right foot would be an excellent compromise.  I traded a John Cleese/Terry Fox gait for a hop-along jog.  Fortunately, I didn't meet anyone.

Problem:  The ungainly gate coupled with the odd stumble to avoid impaling my sock foot on a corn husk resulted in undue stress to my right calf.  Prognosis:  Lower calf tear, minor, significant concern that further abuse might trend the injury downward into the Achilles tendon district.  I am extremely cautious of damage to the Achilles tendon.  People my age and older try to avoid AT injuries like the plague.  Doug Barber can attest to the complications associated with injuries to the Achilles.

Ultra Challenge Challenge - Recap

Neil Jefferson organizes The Limberlost Challenge (TLC).  He obtains a large contingent of volunteers when a youth organization is onsite at Limberlost.  I organize the Creemore Vertical Challenge (CVC), which falls on the second Saturday of the Honda summer shutdown.  Problem:  The timing dictates that the races fall 1 week apart.  To address this issue for the ultra distance, we offer a "challenge" to the hardy souls that complete both the CVC and TLC.

2013 Results:

Note!  These are unofficial!  It is normal with manually derived results to make mistakes.  Expect some corrections!

GinoDicarloM04:58:386:38:4211:37:201Grand Champion!
StephenBridsonM05:21:396:36:5011:58:2922nd Place
StevenParkeM05:19:516:54:3612:14:2733rd Place
KiriamThompsonF05:43:407:08:0312:51:431Grand Champion!
EliseMaguireF06:16:437:19:1513:35:5822nd Place
KimberleyVan DelstF05:53:317:48:5213:42:2333rd Place

Congratulations to all who strived for the UCC medal and to those who persevered and completed the challenge.  It is not easy, which is indicated by the combined time for the 2 races (Total).  The top 3 men and women also show some interesting anomalies.  Aside from Kiriam, the podium finishers were not set after the Creemore race!

Issue:  The UCC is not the focus for either Neil or myself.  Perhaps we don't give it the attention it deserves.  It has also been argued that perhaps it is not a great idea, promoting 2 ultra races in 8 days.  I also retire next year.  I am considering moving the Creemore race to a different time slot, instead of being sandwiched in between the Niagara and Limberlost races.  3 races in 4 weeks is a bit tricky for those who race many on the Ontario series.

Feel free to leave a comment.  Continue the UCC, even if the CVC and TLC don't fall on consecutive weekends, get rid of it, or continue in the same format?

Tip of the day:  Carry duct tape on your river runs.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Creemore Pictures

Just a quick post courtesy of Michael Beauchamp, who took 88 pictures during his race!

You can feel the heat!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Creemore Vertical Challenge RD Report

Hey!  I'll post some pictures soon, somewhere, but here is the RDR:

Creemore Vertical Challenge 2013

Tracking the weather for the Creemore Vertical Challenge over the years would not induce anyone to rush out and sign up for the race.  After this year’s race, the tally is 5 years of high temperatures, 1 year with severe thunder storms and 1 year of comfortable running weather.   I realize that “hot” is relative.  The temperature during the race on Saturday, July 6, 2013 reached a high of 30C (86F).  In Florida, they would be running with a light jacket.  The vertical is also subjective.  The 50K runners experience 1.75 kilometers (a bit north of 1 mile) of vertical gain.  Not exactly flat, but low for a mountain race.  However, given that the race is in mainly-flat Ontario, and takes place after a typically cool Spring, the local runners are hit with a challenging combination of heat and hills.

Race preparations went smoothly.   There are 12K of trails that need cutting or weed whacking.  The finishing touches on Friday, the day before the race, were only marginally hampered by torrential rain.  A new format for registration seemed to go well, with less need for bags and runners taking the brochures that interested them.  The new lime green technical T-shirt, the height of garish, was a big hit.  Thanks to Diane Chesla of Dirty Girls fame, for the shirt production.

The forecast during the week leading up to the race was all over the map.  Warm and muggy, then rain, then cool in the morning and cloudy for the afternoon.  Predictably, all the weather variations were a sham intended to make the runners and I wishful and optimistic.  Race day dawned warm and dry, then progressed relentlessly to hot and muggy.

The 50K started at 08:00 with neighbor Dave Kennedy firing an 1800’s flintlock that left no runner in doubt as to when to start running!  98 of the 105 entrants started the 50K and quickly spread out along the Ganaraska trail.  It did not take long for all 98 to realize this was not a good day to push too hard.

Soon it was time for the 123 runners who opted for the 25K to toe the line.  Another thunderous report started the race and off went the crowd into the increasing heat.  The temperature reached 30C (84F) which, with significant humidity, made for a tactical race, conserving energy for the hills and open road sections.

With the hills and heat, it is wise to provide more water and HEED (High Energy Electrolyte Drink) than in a race with easier terrain.  The original outlay was 450 liters for 240 runners.  It was not enough, but a close estimate.  The floater (Nathan Cohen, who stocks the aid stations with ice and other goodies) was not hard pressed to keep up to the extra demand.  The sponge stations were in constant use and even ran low on water, which will be addressed next year.

Quite a few more runners went off course this year, possibly due to the increased numbers (the cap was raised from 200 to 250) and the humid weather.  Dawn Hamel, leading the 50K women at 30K, took a wrong turn.  This happens in trail races, but Dawn has run the course in training runs over the years, so better signage will be on next year’s to-do list.

The 25K podium saw 2 regulars, with Kyle Aitken finishing in 1:47:00, ahead of Mike Tickner who clocked a 1:49:34.  Kyle and Mike are usually much closer, so it is possible the heat had more of an effect on Mike this year.  Kevin Souter rounded out the podium, in a time of 2:11:20.  Most times were slower than previous years, as the humidity was very much in presence even at the start of the 25K.  Wendy Rading broke the tape for first in a time of 2:23:36, with Allison Thompson (2:24:46) and Anje Podlatis (2:25:01) rounding out the podium.

In his first stab at a race distance of a marathon or more, Calum Neff showed that he could take 50K in stride.  Calum rocketed into the S/F at the halfway point (the course is 25K) in a time of 1:54:nn.  A sub-4 hour record was a distinct possibility and I’m sure Calum would have pulled it off had the weather stayed even a bit cooler.  Nevertheless, Calum completed a 50K that includes 1.75K of vertical gain, in a time of 4:01:44, taking almost 5 minutes off the record!  This, on a day when many seasoned ultra runners where packing it in after 25K.  Rob Vanderwerf (4:18:59) and Sean Roper (4:25:03) pushed hard and also went home with pottery, maple syrup and Creemore Coffee.

Hard work also paid off for Denise Rispolie, first in a time of 5:14:49, with Dawn Hamel (5:16:35) and Kiriam Thompson (5:43:40) taking home prizes.  Prizes abound at Creemore, with 40 runners in various age categories taking home pottery (made by my lovely wife Lee Anne Cohen), maple syrup and Creemore Coffee.  More prizes and medals await those in the 50K who have the gumption to run The Limberlost Challenge 56K near Hunstville, next week.  Yes, 2 ultras in 8 days.  Go big or go home!

Most years, what keeps the runners on the course is the “incentive” supplied by Creemore Springs Brewery at the end of the race, or at the25K point of his 50K for Ron Irwin!  This year was only slightly different, as many were looking forward to sitting in the Mad River almost as much as a Creemore Springs.  Not far behind was to snag a slice from Pizza Perfect, another sponsor from nearby Creemore.  Foodland in Creemore supplied filtered water for the entire race.  HEED and gels were provided from the Ontario series sponsor Hammer Nutrition.  Many thanks to all the sponsors for making the race possible and affordable.

Highlights of the race?  Possibly summed up by the finisher who paraphrased the Deer Hunter (the Horror, the Horror) with “The Hills, the Hills”… 

Many thanks to the volunteers, who helped with set-up, during the race at aid stations, traffic, marshalling, and during take-down.  Many are friends who share the passion of running.  I only hope they get something back, after so much giving.  Volunteering can be very rewarding.  Last year’s race was a constant deluge.  The trails were a mudfest.  One runner wanted some watermelon, but her hands were covered in mud.  My brother Michel used a sponge to help wash her hands.  She was so grateful, she wrote about it in her bog!  Consider volunteering at a local race.  I guarantee you will get something out of it.

Changes for next year?  You bet!  I am always amazed at how many improvements can be made even 7 years after starting the race.  It helps to have volunteers with deep experience, such as Henri Ragetlie (Niagara Ultra) or George and Peggy Sarson (Run for the Toad).  George suggested pre-mixing HEED in large containers the night before the race.  A simple idea, but one that reduces set-up time for the aid station volunteers.  Another change:  I’m retiring next year, hopefully just before the race.  It will be a novelty to have more than 7 days to prepare for the race.

It’s a Hill.  Get Over It

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Start is Near!

Well, with an incredible amount of help from Lee Anne, Ken Moon and Kinga Miklos, the race is shaping up nicely.  This will be a short post as I should get some sleep tonight.  Although there are still many items left to complete, the trails are in good shape, some are even flagged, the start/finish is almost nearly ready (that's RD talk for "no longer overwhelming"), the database approaches readiness and the beer pickup is scheduled...

Lee Anne has spent hours adjusting the volunteer schedules, food lists and a plethora of other details that will make or break the race.  I read a quote from the Badwater book "A few degrees from Hell" (well worth the read!) that stated a pacer cannot win a race, but they sure can lose a race.  I would like to paraphrase that the small details do not make a race, but they sure can break a race.  Apparently I'm not getting enough sleep as the paraphrase makes little sense.  However, why break with tradition and correct it?

Did not reach cap this year, which is surprising, even though the cap was raised from 200 to 250.  In a way it is good, as it provides a stepping stone to the new limit.  Test if my backyard can accomodate the extra runners.

Well, have to go.  Next post will likely be about the race.  Here's hoping it is sunshine and cool temps!