I won’t bore you with the details of the ankle. I rolled it badly but not as bad as I thought. It took some time to get back to some meaningful training for this event. In the end I managed and things would come around just in time.
Rain, even warm rain, can be brutal at times. In an ultra it can be a siphon for your energy, it steals your focus and dampens your spirit. I saw this rain as an advantage. I know my speed isn’t were it should be for this race. There are many places that a runner with speed can gain time so with the trails in poor shape I could use my course knowledge to gain advantage over runners with better training.
I had a plan and put it in action right away. I took off hard and tried to put as much time out front as possible. This would happen anytime I had footing, like on logging roads or graded trails. As soon as the trail shifted to single track my pace would slow as I had very little ankle strength to really blast thought the uneven paths.
As always my wife Jenn was available at every aid station getting me through. I can not stress enough how much a good crew can do for you in an ultra. I lost almost no time in the aid stations due to the fact that Jenn had my water with gels and food in hand. In some cases I hardly broke stride rolling through.
The day seems much of a blur to me. I ran with Neil for much of the first half and he pulled away a few time and I would work to catch up. He was running his first 50 miler I think. He looked strong. Eventual Neil had a bad patch and I pulled ahead, rolling into the turnaround in first. I did get to see some of the competition coming at me now and I drew some strength from knowing where everyone was.
The way back was insane! with over 200 runners trampling over the course the trails were a mess. It slowed my progress down but my conservative effort over the first 25 miles gave me plenty of strength to pick my way through.
I always enjoy the way back to the Haliburton Base Camp. I have the pleasure of seeing friends and other competitors. There are so many stories in their efforts. I am always happier for a while after that. I think because of the fact that for the most part in an ultra you spend so much time on your own that having someone, even a stranger, say you look great feels amazing and its easy to be touched by their blatant lies.
The rest of the race was a standard affair. Eat, drink, run. I felt surprisingly good considering I had only two 30 mile runs in the past 4 weeks. The rain never let up much and I simply wanted to finish.
After my last loop of Normac I had definitely had enough of the rain. With good footing on the dirt road and only 2 aid stations left I went to work. I started to pace count my steps to keep me in rhythm and rolled on through to the finish.
After a tough day I finished a little over 8 hours I think, taking 1st overall for the second year in a row. To be honest I could care less about the time or my placing, I didn’t even stop my watch. I hunched over my knees let out a big sigh of relief. All I could think about was a shower at a friends camp in nearby Minden, a warm fire and beer.
In the end this is just one story of the adventure that is ultrarunning. I feel privileged to know so many people in the community now, I read their stories and gain so much from them. I hope others do the same from mine. The most important thing I think is the community we create within our sport. It can drive us forward to our successes and pick us up when we fail. Congrats to all that finished.