Normally a 50k race, this trail run was cut down a few kilometres due to snow at the top of Little White mountain. Snow! At the end of June! What is this craziness?? According to my Garmin watch after the race I had travelled 28.18 miles but it's been known to tell the odd little white lie especially with elevation. After this race it read 7500' of climbing which I think is highly suspect. Anyways, it was long and up, then it was quick and down.
850k of driving, then the run, all in 24 hours. Carrie picked me up from work on Friday and we arrived in Penticton at 10pm at fellow ultrarunner Scott Corsie's house (he now has strep throat). He and his wife, Michele, graciously donated their basement bedroom for us on the night before the run. After a whopping six hours of sleep we were up and heading to Kelowna. Cutting it somewhat close getting there 30 minutes before start time, things were a little tense because Scott, who was doing the 50 mile race and arrived there before us, had locked his keys in his car with his drop bag supplies and was waiting for BCAA. Seeing as the 50 milers started at 6am, we knew he wouldn't be doing that one. As it was he ended up doing the 50k starting about 15 minutes after everyone else.
It was nice to catch up briefly with Bruce Grant whom I haven't seen in a long time, only knowing what he's up to by reading his blog. He formally presented me with my age group prize for the BC Ultra Trailrunning Series a couple years ago: a cool Nathan backpack. Okay he basically gave it to Carrie as I was walking into the port-a-potty for some pre-race business to take care of.
I told a few people that this was only a training run and honestly that's what I did. I knew the course was mostly uphill to the turnaround so I told myself to work pretty hard on the up and to take it easy on the downhills. It truly was a lot of climbing at the start so I tried to keep my breathing as easy as I could and when it got heavier I slowed down even more (if that was possible). At about the six mile mark I blew my nose runner/cyclist-style and felt right after a fast trickle of something come out. I touched my hand to it and, as I suspected, I had a bleeding nose. It seems when I leave the moisture-laden air of the coast to hit the dry interior I get one of these. What was I to do but pinch the nostrils and carry on, right? By now my hand and nose were covered in red and I was hoping I'd hit the second aid station soon and that they'd have something more absorbent than the leaves I was wiping it with.
I arrived at the second aid station sooner than I thought I would, thankfully, and was greeted by a volunteer saying, "Wow, did you fall?" I guess my face looked worse than it was. Luckily they had paper towel and I cleaned up as best as I could. Off I went down the flat KVR trail hoping it wouldn't happen again.
After the third aid station the trail went up again and where it turned into more or less a fast flowing creek coming towards me. There wasn't a lot of room on the sides to run so basically I stuck to walk/running up the middle, picking my steps carefully.
There was one more small water station before the ascent to the top of Little White. I didn't bother filling my bottles, knowing there would be water up at the turnaround. That was a bit of a mistake because I had to start rationing my water after basically walking the next half hour. The trail running turned into more of a post-holing adventure as the snow got deeper and deeper. At this point I thought I was in second place and so was waiting for number one to come down the trail the other way after hitting the half-way point. I guess whoever was in front of me was doing the 50 mile because I reached the post indicating it was now time to start the crazy descent with no one coming back the other way. Now it was time for the taking it easy part.
Again, because it was a training run and knowing that the downhills are prone to hurting my legs, took it fairly easy on the way back. It was pretty fun running back through all the mud and water that I tried to avoid on the way up. It was easier to go right through it than avoid it. Next along the KVR trail again which had seemed flat going the other way but turned out to be a slight incline. It was tough mentally because it was a few kilometres in length with nothing to look at but the long straightaways. I reached end of the KVR and back into the trails which were mostly down again with a few flats thrown in.
Now, at this point I still told myself that if someone passed me now I wouldn't care and tried to stick to that story. I ended up coming in at a pretty relaxed time of 4:33. 2:43 going up, 1:50 coming down. Crazy.
My legs felt really good right after the race, not too knackered at all, which was good because Carrie and I had to drive me back home to go to work that night. Speaking of Carrie, she did the 25k in 3:06 without doing a lot of training the last few weeks.
It was quite a whirlwind trip but worth doing for a training run in a different type of terrain and area.
Thanks are in order to race director Dan Crockett and all the volunteers who did a great job on this low key and fun race. Here are just a few of the 1000 pictures Dirk Handke took of the race:
Tim Weins, Bruce Grant, and me
Me with Dirk Handke
Race Director Dan Crockett