Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Niagara Ulta Race Report

A few people have mentioned they heard that we are carving a totem pole.  Lee Anne, Kinga, Stephan, Nathan, Jim, Gavin and I have been carving for most of the month of June.  Totem poles take years to carve.  Still under the influence of Honda, I set the completion date in late June.  How hard can this be?  Kinga and Stephan Miklos (if the name seems familiar, they won the mogul miles Trophy Series awarded by Trail Runner magazine) have been up almost every weekend.  Stephan will head north alone this weekend, as Kinga has travelled to Vampireland.

What do we know about carving a totem pole?  Plenty!  Stephan has actually seen one before and I have read a book on carving totem poles.  An incredible pedigree!  I know, reading a book on how to play the violin, then trying Tchaikovsky's violin concerto is not a recipe for success, but a theme throughout pole carving literature is that there is no set approach.  Sure, you can use standard animals, stories and colours, but the rule of thumb is that there is no rule of thumb...

As the pole approaches completion, I will admit that knowing how to carve might have been a distinct advantage, but all of us learned quite quickly and our mistakes have been incorporated into the pole as "features"...


The pole will be 5 feet below grade, possibly 4 feet below ground with ballast "rock seats" adding support.  The problem is that I might hit water below 4 feet, as the current plan is to locate the pole about 50 meters from the Mad river.  Above ground, the pole will reach about 35 feet.  Fairly impressive, although it is only 20" diameter at the base.  The carvings will be, from the ground up:  Runner (Stephan, AKA Picasso), Turtle (Lee Anne and I), fox (Kinga), owl (Pierre), Badger (Nathan and I), 4 runners on switchback (Pierre), fish (Gavin), Celtic ducks (Jim) and Blue Heron (Pierre).  The wingspan of the heron is 8 feet.

The pole weighs about 1,000 pounds, so Sharon will be the resident engineer during the erection phase.  Hmm.  Perhaps I should ask Sharon if she can help...

Niagara 50K Ultra

Okay, running 3 ultras in 4 weeks is exhausting.  Think of all the race reports!  I have many impressions from the race.  I was disappointed in my time (5:34) as I really wanted to be closer to 5 hours.  Again, one hour into the race, I was bone-weary.  Yes, I should have realised there is a price to pay for running three 50K races in 4 weeks, but I was hoping I had turned the corner and would start getting faster.  Apparently not!  The bright spot in all this is that I reached 50K without ever reaching the point where I could not run.  I took 3 - 4 walking breaks, in order to gel or hydrate properly, but I never needed to walk and these breaks lasted no more than 30 seconds.

Aside from being tired and slow, I had a great race!  I like the format of Niagara, where you see all those faster than yourself nearing the turn-around, reaching the falls with its cool spray, then greeting those few runners who are still on their way to the 25K turn-around.  Henri puts on a fine race and although not my favourite surface (pavement with a bit of camber) I love the scenery and "relaxed" atmosphere of the tourists.  One drawback of Niagara is that there are all those wine tasting stations along the way, which a serious runner must ignore.  Perhaps I should suggest a strategic option to Henri, for future years!

Lee Anne had another amazing race, clocking a 5:14 50K and is now third on the Ontario Ultra series leader board.  I am doing well in my age category, which at 120 people, is the largest category.

Creemore Vertical Challenge Update

Plans are progressing well at this point.  With 77 people signed up, the "small jug of maple syrup" perk is quickly coming to an end.  I met with most of the land owners, who gave consent again this year, although they think that anyone trying to run 75K in the Creemore hills should be seeking medical aid...

Hammer Nutrition

Not sure how many of you purchase gels, electrolyte, etc. online, but Ryan at Hammer Nutrition says it is okay for me to divulge a small secret.  You can get a 15% discount at the online Hammer store by using the following promo code:

Promo code:  hammerCAN15

Most people reading this know about Hammer gels and HEED, but Lee Anne and I are now using Fizz, an aptly named electrolyte tab that dissolves in your water bottle.  Hope this helps!



  1. " anyone trying to run 75K in the Creemore hills should be seeking medical aid..." is that before , after or during the race?

  2. Congrats on #3 and woo hoo to Lee Anne as she's rockin' it this year. Love the totem pole too, and can't wait to see it. I'm in for 50K at Creemore, unlike Ron, I don't have the guts to try the 75K but will enjoy watching those that do!

  3. Ron:

    Before: Psychiatric aid
    During: Emergency Response Team
    After: Testament Lawyer (you or your surviving family...)

    Robin: See above!

  4. Great blog Pierre! Do you realize that you're blogging less often now that you're retired? How does that even make sense ...

  5. You might find this article pretty interesting to read.