26 June 2008

Blackfoot 100k

I had signed up for the Blackfoot 100k in Edmonton last year, but unfortunately got quite sick a couple of days before the event and had to cancel out. Fortunately, WestJet credited me for the flight so I had some WestJet dollars to burn, I still wanted to get back to Edmonton, and needed a long race to get more mileage in. I sent a note to Gary Poloquin, the RD and an old acquaintance from when we ran the Canadian Death Race a few years ago back in 02, asking if he might be able to roll my entry over to this year. Being the great guy he is, Gary said no problem. So, I could go do the run for a sum total of less than $100 including food, camping and car rental - almost cheaper than racing at home!

I had never been to Edmonton before, so wasn't sure what to expect. My friends Gail and George had run the course before, and said it was rolling, mostly grass-covered cross-country skiing trails around small lakes. And so it was - I found it a very pretty course, and entirely different than anything I have run on before.

The Alberta crowd seems pretty cool and friendly, and a couple of guys I was running near quickly started chatting to me. I quickly became identified as "The Nuun Guy" due to my jersey, bottles, and tube of tablets :-) The three of us ran together through the first loop of the four-loop course, and headed out as a unit though the second one as well. Towards the end of loop two, though, I was feeling strained and just couldn't keep up with the others. I was still close after we left the start/finish aid station, but soon got dropped by them as I struggled on.

I was enjoying the course, but there was a lot of running. I mean, you could run the entire thing if the small rolling hills didn't eat you as they were apparently doing to me. To be honest, I am just not used to running so much for so long with all the hills we have here in BC, so my hip adductors started to feel really strained and eventually very sore. My pace slowed more and more, and I was passed by a couple of others along the way.

The last loop was a bit excruciating for me, and I just plodded along, walking all those little rollers that I was running up not so long ago. I don't know why I had such a tough time, it was just one of those off days. Still, with Hardrock on the horizon and the shame of one DNF already this year, there was no way I was going to stop, so I kept on cruising. (As an aside on this theme, Jack Cook, one of Canada's best 100k runners and a couple of weeks off a 7:45 run at Elk/Beaver in Victoria, had some back spasms and walked in for a 13:36 finish - that is tough).

And so, I crossed the line in 10:45 and 7th place overall. I seem to be really challenged at the 100k distance, and have never had a good one; I should be able to be in the 9-hour range, but just haven't been able to get things together to ever finish one under 10 hours. Just another challenge for me to overcome!

To cap the day off, wearing a t-shirt and shorts, I locked myself out of my rental car with everything else I owned inside - in a park out in the boonies, not sure of where I am, and not really knowing anybody there. I am glad the Edmonton people were so darned nice, as I chatted up one of the guys I was running with and his wife lent me her AMA card and her cell phone to call a tow truck. To make a long, 3 hour story short, people kep going home and I had to borrow three different people's phones to call AMA again to see what was going on (the truck got lost and went home), I was writing towing company phone numbers in the dirt with a stick, and getting eaten by mosquitoes. Eventually, it was me and a game warden who was there helping the race left in the parking lot with everyone else gone. We were about five minutes away from smashing a window when the tow truck came roaring up, and within a minute or two, I was on my way. After waking up at 4:30 AM, I rolled back to my campsite at 9:30 PM . Good thing my flight wasn't until the next morning...

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