Monday, November 13, 2017

Fat Ass Trail Run Race Report

The Fat Ass Trail Run (FATR) is new to the OUTRace series, but is certainly not a new race.  In fact, it has sold out for the last few years, so not a good race to show up on race day and ask to register.  FATR joined the other races that comprise OUTRace this year and race director Sandy Musson has gone out of her way to accommodate us in her very busy race schedule.  FATR offers more race distances than any other race I know of; a race for children (cheekily called the Big Bum), 4K, 7.5K, 10K, 17.5K, 25K, 50K and the Bad Ass 6 hour race.

I had not run FATR before, but friends had only great things to say about the race, courses and organization.  Since FATR is the last race in the OUTRace schedule, Sandy graciously allowed us to hold the awards.  My good friend Sharon is the OUTRace treasurer and as past series coordinator, helped me to set up for the awards.  But first, we would be running the 25K event!

Before getting into the race report, I should mention that Sharon was able to source a cottage from her friend Jen, near the Bata ski hills, where FATR transpires.  Yes, we would be running on ski hills!  To call Jen's cottage a cottage is about as misleading as calling my house a house.  My house is a cottage and Jen's cottage is a house.  Six of us stayed Saturday night in the cottage and we only needed 4 of the 6 bedrooms.  The living room had a 25 foot high cathedral ceiling.

I picked up race kits on Saturday (FATR is on Sunday) and met Sandy for the first time.  Although busy, she had enough time to tell me that they were making snow on the ski hills.  Pardon?  I had visions of running up a ski hill, directly into a snow gun.  Fortunately, the snow machines were silent on race day.

The 50K and 6 hour races started at 7:30, but the 17.5K and 25K had a more civilized start time of 9:00.  The 25K runners would join the 17.5K runners for a loop of the 7.5K course, then a loop of the 10K course.  We (25K) would continue back to the 7.5K course for a second loop.

With over 600 participants for all the race distances, there was a good crowd starting the 17.5K and 25K.  We congo-lined up the ski hill, slipping a bit in the new snow.  The hill is not overly high, although on the second loop it felt like a monster.  Then it was downhill and on to some single track replete with boggy sections, then rail trail and more single track.  Then up a gentle slope on single track to the top of the ski hill, which reminded me of Pick Your Poison.  By this time, the crowds had thinned and most were running at their race pace.

I had no concrete plan for the 25K.  About 5K in I decided I might as well run it with some effort, as there was no need to keep anything back.  Please note that I said "some effort", not "fast".  Most of the runners were ahead of me and would remain so!  But since this was my shortest race (in fact, my first race less than 50K or 6 hours) I would try to maintain a harder pace.  This would come back to haunt me in the final 6K, but might as well push in a shortish race.

After the first 7.5K loop it was on to the 10K loop, which was surprisingly flat.  I kept looking ahead for big hills, but the first 5K was fairly flat on some nice dual and single track.  The second half of the 10K loop reminded me of part of Dirty Girls; roller coaster single track through deciduous forest, but gentle enough to allow for faster speeds.

The second and final 7.5K loop was not as flat as the first loop.  Not sure how they quickly added small rollers, but they did.  I'm sure the fact that my legs were feeling trashed had nothing to do with it...  Going even marginally faster at the 25K, compared to my tragic pace in longer races this year, made the last 6K a bit unpleasant.  Yes, my knees complained bitterly, especially with the downhill sections, my phantom ankle problem reared its ugly head  - I might have to take 3 or 4 days off running.  But the big surprise is how much my back hurt during the final push to the finish line.  It hurt a lot!  It also felt rickety and was snapping a lot more than normal.  I'm going to guess that dehydration resulting from running a race and a few glasses of wine the previous night had something to do with it.  I also abstained from vitamin I (Ibuprofen) as I felt it was not needed for a short race.

The trail marking was quite good, although I felt that something was off, about 5K into the last 7.5K loop.  Not sure if you have had that feeling, but I was on a dual path in a forest that seemed to go on much longer than the first loop.  Had I missed a turn?  There was still orange tape, but it was in trees off the course.  I did not see any of the red arrows on black signs for a while.  I decided to turn back and look for a turn, rather than continuing in what was likely the wrong direction.  About 500 meters back, I came upon another runner.  I figured that I was wrong about being off course and turn around again.  Sure enough, about 200 meters past where I had turned back, we came upon a red arrow.  All was well.  I even had a great reason why my time was so slow - that extra kilometer must have taken me at least 40 minutes - right?

My finishing time was 3:28, which is slow for the course, but also indicates how bad my back was acting up.  I had dropped from the 50K to the 25K, and was very happy to have done so.  I doubt there was 50K in the tank, a short 2 weeks after Horror Trail!

After changing and a bite to eat, I went over to help Jim Orr (OUTRace statistician) tabulate the series winners.  Here is how I helped:  I watched Jim as he performed his magic with the incoming FATR results, about 20 spreadsheets and a calculator.  When I say magic, I am not waxing eloquently.  I have no idea how he does it!  The sad truth is that no one knows how he does it, so this needs to be rectified in the near future.  We need an alternate statistician.

Jim also helped me with presenting the awards.  I would be lying if I said I remember who won what.  Rather than making a mistake, I'll refer you to the website.  Series winners will be posted soon.  However, here is the breakdown in the awards:

Trail Series:

Series champions (M & F)
Under 40:  First, second and third (M & F)
40 - 49:      First, second and third (M & F)
Over 50:    First, second and third (M & F)

50K Series:

First, second and third (M & F)

Ultra series

Series champions (M & F)
Under 40:  First, second and third (M & F)
40 - 49:      First, second and third (M & F)
Over 50:    First, second and third (M & F)

Norm Patenaude award:

About 8 recipients (Strangely, no woman?)

Slam awards:  (At least 100K in Sulphur Springs and Ottawa, and 100 miles at Haliburton)

Stephen Bridson
David Varty

For fun, here is what Jim does, for each and every race:

Obtain results for the Trail races (typically about 25K distance), 50K and all the ultra distances.
Determine if there are any name variations (did David Smith sign up as Dave Smith, etc.)
See the outrace website for exact point calculations, but in essence, runners get 1 point per kilometer (50 points for a 50K, 161 for a 100 miles, 45 if you run 45K in a 6 hour race) plus position points.  First place gets 100 points, second place gets a percentage of 100 points based on how many are in the race.  Example:  Second in a race with 10 people gets 90 position points, but in a race with 100 people, second gets 99 position points.

Try completing the results 30 minutes after the race ends...

Congratulations to all who attained an OUTRace award.  Obviously the more races you complete, the better you do in the series, but none of the awards are a walk in the park.  I know.  I tried for the Norm Patenaude award and came up short.  The overall Ultra Series male champion came down to the last race.

Many thanks to our sponsors Trail Runner and Arc'teryx, for supporting OUTRace.  every little bit helps us to put on a quality series.  Arc'teryx donated running shoes to the Ultra champions.  I have chatted with people from New York during a race and have been told that they drive up to Ontario because of the quality and quantity of races in our series.

Finally, I would like to thank the OUTRace executive.  I highlighted Jim's contribution above, but that was only one day in his schedule, that includes tabulating results from 13 races.  Sharon Zelinski keeps track of the books and offers sage advice in a plethora of situations.  Stephan Miklos, as webmaster, updates results (sent by Jim) and information on the website, such as "next race" and the race results.  April and Melanie Boultbee bring expertise in the social media arena, including advertising and posting of events, results and news.  My partner Lee Anne Cohen helps in several capacities, not least of which is donating her pottery to the Spring Warm-up and Film Festival draws.  She also organises the OUTRace film festival.  Many thanks to the execs!

This is as good a time for a Film Festival plug as any!  Arc'teryx will be donating a pair of running shoes as a draw prize at the film festival.  The shoes, pottery and some good old Creemore Vertical Challenge T-shirts will be part of the prizes.  If you can make it on Saturday December 2 in Toronto, we would love to chat with you at the OUTRace Film Festival.