The night before race day, rain fell as I crawled into my tent at the Fisherboy Campground around 10 p.m.. The patter of the drops lulled me to sleep. It stopped before I awoke around 4:15 a.m., giving me plenty of time to prepare.
To prevent blistering on the descent I lubed up my toes, and feet, with a mix of Body Glide and Chamois Cream. Since it was going to be a warm day I filled my Camel Pack to its 2 litre capacity.
The skies cleared, as we crowded behind the start just before 7 a.m.. After the countdown, for the first 11-12 minutes, we dashed up a gently slopping paved road to the trail head. I watched Nick Elson, the eventual winner, speed ahead of the chase pack, and disappear into the forest.
I decided early on not to push too hard. My left knee still had a bit of inflammation, and I didn't want to aggravate it further. I was careful on the climb, stopping to have drink breaks, and even paused to take some photos. My Hoka Mafate Speed trail running shoes worked well. I only had to stop one time to tighten the speed laces, as they came loose at one of the very steep rock climbing sections. The rain the night before was enough to get keep the dust down but not so much that things became slippery.
As we climbed to the summit, above the clouds, I saw the exposed rock of the peaks for the first time. Other years when I had reached this section in the trail it was still covered in snow. The backside of the mountain was snow-less as well. Because of this descending the "cliff's of insanity" sections with the long ropes took longer than other years, since there was no way to slide by the lines (unless you wanted to get scrapped with rocks and stones). I slipped on a slimy stone as I jumped across a creek in the swampy sections of the lower back forest. It sent a cutting pain across my right calf muscle, and for several seconds of pain I thought I was finished. I slowly moved ahead, and was able to walk it off. Thirty seconds later I was back to running again, and entered the wider, exposed trail, on the switch-backs leading down to aid station three (where Nanaimo bars and Gatorade were waiting for me).
Photo credit: adventuresbycamera.com