Sunday, January 25, 2015

Creemore Snow Run

The Creemore Snow Run is one of those ideas that looks great on paper, can be inspiring in reality, but some years, makes slushies out of the most determined runners.  The course starts with 2K on the Ganaraska Trail, followed by 3K on roads for recovery, then finally a 2.5K section on a moderately technical trail.  Sounds easy, right?

What is not described in the brief course description above is that there are cliffs, ravine crossings and beaver dams.  On a summer day it is a tough, energy draining 7.5K loop.  Now add some snow.  Yesterday's conditions were close to ideal, with a packed trail and never more than 6 inches of snow to trample down.  In some years there has been 2 feet of snow.  Trying to run up a steep hill in 2 feet of snow is known as "near-death-running", something only runners lacking the "prudent" gene (most trail and ultra runners) would attempt.

Make no mistake - running up and down hills in 6 inches of snow is no sight-seeing jog.  Although the weather was good, hovering near the freezing mark, it was difficult to take in the scenery along the Mad river and while running the residual moraine, as your attention was focused on your footing.  Looking up generally resulted in one of those seventies dance moves that is a cross between artistic license and spastic release.  Let's move on.

Numbers were down slightly, perhaps because the forecast was calling for freezing drizzle during the night before the snow run.  Those who braved the drive were rewarded with a fine day for running, on a course that was both pleasant and tough.  Lee Anne and Sharon opted to run roads.  Lee Anne would be considered a sane runner in one sense - that running in snow on treacherous trails would never be misconstrued as her preference.  I am guessing that Sharon ran roads because the turn-around point is at the Giffens store, where they sell the world's best butter tarts...

Those that elected to run the official CSR route (FYI:  it is the first 6K and last 1.5K of the Creemore Vertical Challenge) expended considerable energy during the day.  I was the only "short" runner, completing 3 of the 7.5K loops.  Steve and Adi extended their 3 loop run by including a side trail.  The trail girls (Kinga and Dawn) showed all of us up by running 3 consecutive 1:04 loops, then tacking on a spur, for intimidation purposes, no doubt!  Stephen, Stephan and Dawn completed a fourth loop.

After satiating our desire for trail running in the midst of winter, we then sat about in the house, talked of the upcoming season and snacked on cheese, crackers, wine and beer.  We experienced a pleasant surprise when Gerry and Cheryl showed up during the afternoon.  I knew that Gerry would not be running, as reports indicated he was injured.  I thought it might have been a flare-up of his leg problem, but it turns out Gerry had been involved in a serious accident in late November and was still convalescing.  He is badly banged up, but is already talking of starting to train soon.  Gerry:  Listen carefully.  Heal first, train later.  Do as I say, not as I do...

Yesterday's 22.5K run was my longest this year.  I felt tired, after running in snow for over 3 hours, but not overly stiff and sore.  This bodes well for my planned ramp-up.  Just need to continue spending time on my feet and worry about the speed later.

On the maple syrup front, I was at the sugar shack recently and shovelled the roof.  It was a pleasant surprise at how much snow there is in the bush, as it has been a lean year, precipitation-wise, so far this winter.  It is hard to grasp that I will start preparing for the syrup season in earnest, in as little as one month!  As always, I am hoping for a good season.

For future consideration, I marked a trail through the swamp from the sugar shack to an area of the property that includes about 25 acres of mature maple trees.  In order to expand significantly beyond 400 taps, I will need to install a pumping line across the swamp.  Although the cost of setting up the pump line is considerable, it would allow for expansion to upwards of 2,000 taps.  Whether I want the added effort is debatable, but the evaporator is rated for up to 500 taps.  It would be nice to obtain full value out of the evaporator.  And of course secretly, I have dreams of buying a bigger evaporator and actually making some money out of this hobby.

Well, I wonder if there will be a February challenge this year?  The challenge is to run as often as possible during February.  I hope to be comfortable running 25K - 30K as my long run by then.

Enjoy the cold weather.  It is wonderful to get out for a run, ski or snowshoe at this time of year.  Make sure you are ready for the Spring Warm-up on April 11, which is a short 9 weeks away.


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