While several guys started their 100k (107k by GPS) charity run for MitoCanada at 11.30 PM Saturday night, I was a "slacker" who just joined in at the halfway point. With 3.5 weeks until Commonwealths, pulling an all nighter wasn't a wise option for this girl.
But I was still up at 4.30 AM, eating my cereal with that half-hungry, half-nauseous feeling. Then it was a carpool with two strangers in the dark out to a gravel mountain road to meet the group who were supposed to arrive at 6.30 AM. Of course, after 50k of running through the night in the dark, who knew when their arrival would really be.... It was 6.30. Hmm. I think these guys know what they're doing!
The guys I was driving out with scared the heck out of me. First one bloke says, "I've never run with a pack before." When I query the other one about his favourite races, it turns out he likes "flat and fast." Then there are some words about sore achilles. Yikes! Did they realise this was a 50k mountain run over 2 passes and 11 hrs?? I thought the participants were supposed to be screened!
We stood around on the gravel road, as the group of us increased to 11 people. First light of dawn threw a beautiful red tinge onto the mountains to our west and I finally got a better look at the group around me. It became apparent that I was surrounded by highly fit, ectomorph, adrenaline junkies.
We headed off onto the trails, beginning a slow, steady climb, chasing a herd of cows along the single track. Literally scaring the cr$# out of them, it seemed. Not a nice way to wake up!
Our route took us to the top of Jumpingpound Mountain at 2,240 mtrs, then over Lusk Pass and down to Barrier Lake at 29k (78k by then for the full distance guys). Aid Station here, fully decked out and with cheering, smiling faces. I found out that a group of 3 or 4 mountain bikers had also started the 100k journey behind us. I can't fathom having to push 20 lbs of steel through the mountains in addition to my own body weight!
At Barrier Dam, I heard that a group of about 5 women had started their ~28k journey to the Canmore finish line about an hour before we arrived. And soon to arrive after us to do the 28k version was a group of 3 or 4 men who were speed specialists (mostly 5k/10k, I think).
My early fears of these guys' ability to do an all day mountain run were quickly relieved. I listened to many stories of xTerra duathon wins, Ironman placings, and Masters World Cup skiing. I heard more about the Chicago Marathon than I'd heard in my whole life. Seems half the guys are going to that in October - and their previous marathon finish times? 2.32... 2.34... on a bad day 2.37.
Turns out they were afraid of whether I was going to be able to keep up on the day!
Up and over the second pass - Jewel Pass - with about 500 mtrs gain, and then a long, luscious descent (well, for me, as I was just a "halfer" - for the Full Empty blokes, the quad hammering was undoubtedly a little tough). The rest of the afternoon was a rollercoaster of single track for the most part. Lucky for all the shade, due to it being a hot day. I was very careful to be taking regular Endurolytes throughout the day - I had to work early on Monday and didn't want to end up shattered. I fueled with Perpetuem Solids for the day, augmented by some fruit and an egg salad sandwich at the aid stations. Perp Solids are hard to find in Calgary!
Into the finish line after 10 hrs and 13 mins on the trail for me - half an hour ahead of schedule as predicted by the race organiser and president of MitoCanada, Blaine Penny. That included all the Aid Station rest and refuelings, which were 20-45 minutes each. It was 17 3/4 hrs for the guys who did the whole lot. +2162 mtrs and -2496 mtrs for me. The guys from the start must have had at least another 1000 mtrs.
Talk was at least $25,000 has been raised from the event. The Canadian group are looking to partner with the Australian Mito foundation, whose main event is "Stay in Bed Day" coming up on 25 Sept, which honours those who have profound levels of fatigue due to the disorder in this unique way. Check it out, Aussies, and perhaps even help your kids' school organise a pajama day for it. It was an honour to be part of the run. I'm very grateful for the energy my body's cells make every day for me.