The 56K Great Lake Ultramarathon went better for me than I expected, especially since the start I had was awkward. I was up front near the start with the rest of the runners beneath Youbou Town Hall, and somehow after we all sang "Oh Canada" and were let go, my visor was flipped off by the start ribbon, sending my headlamp flying out of sight. I scrambled around, avoiding getting trampled to retrieve my visor, but couldn't spot the headlamp, so I made a quick decision to run on without it. It was 5:00 a.m. totally dark, I followed the rest of the runners out of the town. We quickly came to a gravel logging road shrouded by forest. The lead pack thinned out. I saw bobbing headlamps ahead of me like fireflies stretch into the distance.
Every once in a while a support vehicle would pass by giving me some help with their headlights, but for about an hour I was running in complete darkness. I managed to pass a couple runners before sun rise, but had no idea where I was placed until near the 3rd aid station where someone told me I was in 4th place.
The friendly volunteers at the aid stations quickly helped me to refill my Gatorade bottles, and at certain ones, find the drop bags I had prepared, containing power gels, electrolytes and snacks.
Near the halfway point I was passed by a runner and her support vehicle. I was slowing the pace because I knew a big hill was up ahead and I would need some gas in the tank to handle that. My quads were already feeling the distance. When I left Aid station 8, at what I thought was the top of the hill, I was encouraged by reaching the marathon distance marker in just under four hours. My joy didn't last long though, when I came around the next corner I saw how the hill still ascended.
Finally I was able to run down the long winding descent to the A&W Aid Station where the course joined pavement and followed fairly level ground again. I knew it was around 12 km from the finish because I had measured it with my car the day before (a sign was there too indicating this) the home stretch. My only concern was that I was down to my last power gel. I would've liked to have a couple of more for the final push.
By this time I was in 8th place. I refilled and holstered my drinking bottles and pushed on. I could feel the heat of the beautiful day rising from the street, as I passed homes and small businesses. At some street corners small groups of people clapped, encouraging me to press on. With 10km left to go I took my last gel. My legs felt like cement. I counted down the kilometers. In the last couple of kilometers I was passed by three runners, two of them in the final two hundred meters or so. We were so close. But by that point my place didn't seem to matter to me. I was just so glad to see the finish line. The cheering happy people. Ringing the finish bell. Coming in eleventh place with a time of 6:03 was better than I had expected. And to top it all off when the first aiders checked my feet at their station in the Lake Cowichan Hall, they couldn't find any blisters.
Check here for the Great Lake Ultramarathon Results