Monday, May 13, 2019
It was near the end of Swamp Monster that I had my first fall. I tripped on a rock and went flipping head over heels onto the edge of the trail. When I attempted to stand, a shooting pain pulsed through my right calf muscle. It felt like a micro tear. A fellow racer stopped to help me up. He offered me some pickle juice he had in small plastic bottle, but I declined, telling him that I had an electrolyte mixture of my own. It was hot out on the exposed rocks of Swamp Monster, and approaching an hour-and-a-half into the race, I limped along, slowly, hoping that the calf cramp would go away as I drank mouthfuls of fluid from my hydration pack. The runner who helped me up ran with me for the next kilometer, making sure that I would be okay. With aid station two in sight my helper left, running ahead at the end of Lower Crafty Butcher. The aid station had a good selection of drinks ready to go. I took two, and dumped one cup of cold water over my head, leaving with a chocolate GU Gel in hand to sip on as I made my way up a steep incline near the start of the Two Flats trail. I encouraged myself that this was near the halfway mark, according to my Garmin watch. My right calf was still bothering me though, and every now and then I could feel a shooting pain as I descended the first part of the Rapture trail. Would I be able to carry on this way? I wondered. I stopped to walk and re-hydrate when I got to Ark trail, where it turned onto a straight section of logging road. A passing runner saw I was struggling and offered me an electrolyte jelly cube. I gladly took it, and jogged on toward Rapture cliff. It loomed ahead of me in the distance - majestic in the midday sun. I enjoyed the climb, taking in the views, slowly making my way to the top.
Friday, April 19, 2019
Race organizers may change the course slightly due to active logging in the area so the directions that I've given here are just a general guide. I ran this, wearing a triathlete pack, carrying 1.5 litres of Nuun drink, cell phone, and snacks. I'd recommend bringing this if you're running solo. Race day there'll be 3 aid stations so I'll be able to travel lighter.
Sunday, October 28, 2018
I felt passionate about being involved with this production because I've had friends who have struggled with post traumatic stress (PTSD) due to what they've experienced on deployments with the military. INDIVISIBLE offers hope to those who are struggling in this way showing that healing and reconciliation is possible.
(Above, next to Humvees, My 2002 Pontiac Montana van with Syrian license plates - insurgent vehicle)
If you haven't seen it yet in USA theaters, please do. It opens in Australia November 2nd. Find out more about the movie here:INDIVISIBLE
Sunday, August 12, 2018
Since I was up at the summit so early, there weren't other bikers or trail runners around. I descended the mountain the same way I had come, quickly, hoping that the bear was not alerted to my presence. I checked over my shoulder a couple of times to make sure that I wasn't being followed. I was relieved when I got back to the lower trails where there were plenty of bikers and dog walkers.
Since 2015 I have been running the Cumberland Mountain trail system. I had seen posters with cougar and bear warnings, but had never had an encounter or even spotted one. I had seen evidence of them like tracks and dung. My only other encounters with bears while on trail runs were on the Pipe Line Trail north of the Stotan Falls bridge, and the Cape Scott Park trail on northern Vancouver Island. In those incidences I was making enough noise that they knew I was there, and they took off.
The best way to avoid bear encounters while trail running:
- Make noise; sing, shout, wear bear bells.
- Use trails frequented by dog walkers (dogs mark their territory).
- Avoid trails where berries are ripe.
Wednesday, January 03, 2018
The sun came up on my third loop so I could take in the ocean and mountain views the route had to offer. Upon completion of this I was met at my aid station by my wife, Olivia, with a bacon and egg sandwich and veteran marathoner Ken Richardson who would pace me around to the halfway point. It was good to have someone to talk to, as this helped the miles to fly by. He gave me some advice on how to mentally move through the final 40kms. When we reached my aid station at the completion of this stage we were greeted with cheers by a group of members from the Comox Valley Road Runners. One of them asked me how long I had been training for the run and Ken Richardson answered them, "He's been training 50 years for this one." Before I left on the fifth loop though they sang "Happy Birthday" to me. They had a delicious spread of desserts and drinks laid out. I would've liked to stay longer with them to enjoy the tailgate party but I had to keep moving so my legs wouldn't cramp up.
To get through the second half of the 50 miles I mentally divided the remaining distance into aid station stops. With only two remaining, I felt a burst of energy and optimism. "I can do this," I thought. While running loop six I passed a tow truck pulling a 4x4 truck out of a ditch. It had spun off of Knight Road by Siefferts Farm Market. Black ice was still a problem in the shade. I had to be careful. Ken Richardson found me at my aid station as I was preparing to start the final 10km loop. Because he had an appointment at 4 p.m. he could only run with me for the first kilometer or so. Before turning around he encouraged me that I was in good shape to reach my goal.
Shoes: Altra Olympus 2
Drinks: Nuun, (Active, Boost)
Nutrition: Ensure protein drink, Mars chocolate bars, Cliff gels, bacon.
Friday, August 25, 2017
The Comox Valley hosts several amazing running trails. In this blog I've attempted to rank six of my favourite ones using the following as determining factors:
1) ease of access to the trail-head;
2) difficulty of the terrain;
3) the beauty, and,
4) length of run.
TOP RANKED TRAILS
#1, Cumberland Mountain:
For the past two years I've been running The Cumberland Mountain trail on a weekly basis and I just don't get tired of it. It's always a challenge, an adventure, and leaves me whacked after running its hills for hours. I guess that's why it's number one on my list. Numerous entrances to the trail system are found at the edge of the Village of Cumberland. I prefer to park my car in the recreation centre parking lot off Dunsmuir Avenue, its main thoroughfare. From there I run down Sutton Road to the Cumberland Community Forest. Hours of challenging fun can be had running the hilly logging roads and mountain bike trails.It takes about an hour to reach the summit after ascending 1200-1400 feet. The views on a clear day are inspiring. You can run 2-5 hours through the vast Cumberland Mountain trail system. Make sure you bring extra fluids in the summer as the streams dry up and it can get hot in the back hills. Watch out for roots and rocks on the secondary trails, and make noise as bears and cougars have been spotted on some of these (I've never met any).
The Riverside/Nymph Falls trail system covers close to 20kms if you follow it full circle. Running along beside the edge of the Upper Puntledge River through mostly evergreen forested areas it offers many beautiful views where you will be tempted to stop and rest to enjoy the scenery. West of the Inland Island Highway the trails can be a challenge on the north side of the river especially in the rainy season. A 2-3 kilometer stretch back up toward Nymph Falls follows a narrow mountain biking trail with many wooden bridges that get frosty in the winter months. But with rolling hills, several outhouses, and well groomed pathways throughout most of it, the circuit is a pleasure to explore. Access the trail head by vehicle either through Forbidden Plateau Road, Nymph Falls Nature Park or park at the end of Powerhouse Road in Courtenay and run west beside the cement hydro tubes (15-20 minutes) to the Duncan Bay Main Line Road. Continue on following the hydro tubes up hill and you will eventually join the Riverside Trail on the east side of the Puntledge River. If you cross the bridge following Duncan Bay Main Road over the river after 50 metres or so on the left you will see the narrow entrance to the Riverside Trail.
Running this challenging trail is best done in the dryer months. During the rainy season sections of the trail are submerged by swamp and may be impassable. If you're running with a friend you can both meet up in separate vehicles either at the parking lot at the top of Forbidden Plateau or by Raven Lodge on Mount Washington. Leave one car behind and travel together in the other vehicle to the opposite end of the trail. To run this it will take 5-7 hours. There are some sections that are steep and technical with roots and rocks where your pace will be reduced to power-hiking. I usually wear a pair of gloves to protect my hands, and a camel pack with 2 litres of fluid, energy gels, and snacks.
#5, One Spot: One Spot trail is an easy, well groomed, trail that for the most part follows an old lumber railway that once bore the same name. It passes by farmland where cows and horses can be spotted. Hedge groves along the way provide shade. Running out to the end and back from the Condensory Road Bridge in Courtenay can take around 2 hours. The trail head is located near River Meadow Farms on Condensory Road. I've had to share the trail with horses on several occassions. It's best to step aside and let them pass.
CAUTION: For the Cumberland Mountain Trail and Riverside Trail systems I recommend that ear bud type music listening not be used as this may interfere with hearing oncoming mountain bikers and avoidance of wild animal encounters.