Friday, May 16, 2014

Strong finish at the Elk/Beaver ultra-marathon 2014

(Photos by Lorna Shaw) As the hours wound down to the start of the Elk /Beaver Ultra in Victoria, B.C. May 10th, I found myself wrestling with the prerace “What ifs”. What if I go out too fast, and cramp up? What if the weather turns foul? What if my training wasn’t sufficient? What if my stomach upsets? Running ultra-marathon distances has its risks, because you’re pushing your body to extremes – sometimes trying to run as far as you ever have, as quickly as possible, exposed to the forces of nature. There’s a fragile balance to be kept, of calorie and hydration intake, and speed. And if it’s not, it can lead to upset.

Around 5 a.m., without having had much sleep, Russ Green and I checked out of the Elk Lake Hojo’s Hotel near the race start. It was his first attempt at completing 100 kms, I was there to improve on my 50 mile (80 km) personal best finish time, set the year before.

In the cool of the early morning we joined a crowd of ultra-runners on the grass behind the starting line in Elk Lake Park, and set off at an easy pace, following a 10 km loop trail that wound through forests and fields next to the Elk/Beaver lakes. This was convenient, because we could keep a self-serve aid station near the start, and access it before pushing on to complete our next loop.

I had to keep patient when the 50 km distance runners were pushing the pace. This paid off when 4 hours into the ultra I reached the 40 km mark with lots of gas still in the tank. While I changed out my shoes at my aid station I met up with Russ who was looking strong heading out on his 5th loop. I didn’t see him again until after I had finished. To keep motivated going through the low points of the run I thought of my cause, Sick Kids Foundation, and the children who were bed ridden in hospitals, hooked up to machines, waiting for vital organ donations.

A great sense of exhilaration hit me as I came toward the finish on the last loop. All my “What ifs” were in vain. Under my previous time for this distance by almost an hour and forty minutes, coming in at 9:13, I was pleased. And I ended up awarded second place in Men’s Masters.

Russ Green soon came through our aid station with one loop left to go. It was still possible for him to complete the 100 km before the 12 hour cut off time, but he would have to push the pace to do it. I gave him a couple of my power gels to get him through the last kilometers. With seven minutes to spare, I spotted Russ emerge from the forest shrouded trail. We cheered him in to the finish where he was awarded third place in Men’s Masters.

Donations for my cause, the Sick Kids Foundation, can still be made HERE

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