Sunday, June 23, 2013

Kusam Klimb 2013 - The Cliffs of Insanity

Running the Kusam Klimb is probably the most insane thing I've ever attempted, and I liked it. The 23km race course ascends from 9 to 1482 meters within 7.7kms from the start. The first 2kms were on paved roads so I was able to keep the lead runners in my sights until we got to the narrow trail head. Soon it became so steep we had to power hike. Since it had been raining often the previous week the race trail higher up was muddy. At times I was on all fours crawling along, glad that I had worn heavy duty gloves. I stopped to refill my drink bottles at a stream fed by the melting snow above us. It took about two hours to get to the top where we were above the clouds near the peak, scrambling across snow drifts. What an unforgettable view that was.

The craziest part was getting down the other side of the mountain. At certain steep places long ropes were fastened to trees for us to use on the descent of the snowy slopes, reminding me of the 'cliffs of insanity' from the movie Princess Bride. I was able to slide down a few sections, seated on the snow, using my feet and hands to protect myself from protruding rocks and tree branches.
I entered runnable sections of forest not long after the course passed by a lake and the second checkpoint. Soon I found myself running alone and wondered if I had somehow wandered off the Kusam Trail, but then I would see a small pink ribbon up ahead tied to a branch telling me that I was going in the right direction.
After reaching an old logging road I picked up speed following switchbacks down towards a mist filled valley. Along the way I came to a broad stream with water calf deep. It cooled my burning feet as I ran across. The third check point had Nanaimo bars and Gatorade to offer, which I took advantage of. Just past this, I met a fellow runner, leaned against a tree, suffering with muscle cramps so I stopped to give him some salt capsules (later, at the finish, he thanked me, saying that he couldn't have finished without them).
The last six kilometers I ran steadily, descending over a mixture of logging roads and quad wheeler trails, passing several runners. I tripped at one point, going head over heals and landed on my back, but quickly got up and shook it off.
I heard the finish line before I could see it. They were blasting rock music and making announcements over a loud speaker. I finished strong, smeared with mud, in a time of 4 hrs and 35 minutes, happy to have completed the most crazy race of my life.
Thanks to all the volunteers who helped to make this event go smoothly.

A couple of weeks after running the Kusam Klimb race I spoke at Aaron House Fellowship in Courtenay, B.C. and had a chance to share some about the experience.

1 comment:

Museum Strathroy-Caradoc said...

Robert, Robert, Robert. That is all a mother can say.