Race:            Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc, Sept 1st, 2017. 6:30 pm.

Distance:    In 2017- Approximately 167 km, with 10,000 M of elevation gain.

Course:       Around the Tour Du Mont Blanc in the Alps through France, Switzerland and                        Italy.

In 2017 the Course was shortened a few km’s the day of the race due to the volatile weather forecast. There was rain, snow, wind, and cold temperatures down to -9.

Results:        There were 1685 finishers and 852 DNF’s.

Full Results here: http://utmbmontblanc.com/en/page/107/107.html

UTMB FINISH LINE!

Photo: UTMB

The start line of UTMB is incredible! Runners started lining up at the start really early (almost 2 hours before)! I saw this happening and I got anxious that I should get to the start line, but I waited until about 30 minutes before to join.

As the fast elite athletes joined the start there were big cheers and announcements throughout. The music, pump up announcements, and energy created an electric atmosphere throughout Chamonix and it felt like everyone in town was there waiting for the race to start. At one point we all joined in making an oath that we would get to the finish line in this grand adventure. It was all amazing, but in hindsight also pretty overwhelming! I have never been that nervous at the start of a race, but at the same time never been to a start line with so much energy and excitement!

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Photo: Tara Berry     Tara Berry & Melanie Bos

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Photo: Alissa St. Laurent      Tara Berry & Alissa St. Laurent (6th Women)!

Fellow Canadian runners found at the start line!

I knew that this race starts off quickly and the first 8 km were fairly runnable. I made sure to go out easy and not get carried away at the very start. The first 8 km’s were lined with so many people and children wanting high fives throughout Chamonix. I tried to high five every single kid I ran by that had their hand out. The crowds were mind-blowing and the kids put a smile on my face. Everyone was yelling “Allez, Allez, Allez” along the route, and the aid stations and surrounding villages were packed with supporters with cowbells and cheers. It looked like some locals were even out having dinner parties outside to cheer on the runners. This went on for hours and hours and was one my favorite things about this race!

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Photo: Tara Berry

Even though I thought I started easy as soon as we hit the first climb I felt it; my legs didn’t feel good, they felt heavy, way to heavy for so early on. I felt like I was getting passed by 100’s of people (and I was literally being passed by 100’s of runners)! Looking at the stats, at the first aid station 1 hr:39 min in, I was in 338 overall, and I continued to drop back to 357 overall.

More than anything, mentally things weren’t going well. I don’t think I’ve ever got in that much of a negative headspace so early in a race! We were in fog and even with fresh lights it was hard to see, I had stomach cramps, and I felt like the down hills were not coming easy. Usually downs hills are my strength but I was breaking a lot as it was hard to see, and my legs didn’t feel good. I could feel my nagging hamstring a bit and I was getting worried. I had a lot of self-doubt and started making up excuses of why I was going to drop. This was during the majority of the first 40 km’s into the race. Courmayeur was around 78 km; for some reason that seemed like a good place to stop and I planned to drop there. I thought I could make it there even if I was in rough shape and I didn’t really know of any other spot that would be easy to drop and be able to somehow get a ride back to Chamonix. I didn’t plan to have Ryan (my crew and fiancé) meet me until 125 km into the race. There was one-drop bag allowed on course and it was at Courmayeur, so I also knew I wouldn’t freeze as I had a change of clothes!

Things started turning around after about 40 kms’ and I was feeling much better (stomach cramps were gone), my legs were warmed up, and I was moving well on the ups and the downs. I felt like I was gaining back some of the time I was slogging along in the beginning. Looking at the placing you can tell where this happened…(I went from 357 place overall down to 227 by Courmayeur). There were some big climbs and big descents (My fav), and even though it was foggy the area seemed majestic and beautiful. There looked like there were some big drops below and I was loving the rocky terrain. I bailed hard on some slippery rocks, but I was back in a good headspace and I brushed it off and was back up quickly with some minor bruises and scrapes on my knees.

I started gaining some confidence back that I could finish this race! Even though things got harder later on, I became even more determined that I was going to get to the finish line! By the time I got to Courmayeur I had no plans to quit, and the thought of quitting never came back. I took my time to fully change at Courmayeur into new socks, shirt, sports bra, eat pasta, use the washroom etc. I left there feeling refreshed, and the sun had just come up. It was early Sat morning and Mont Blanc was stunning!

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The climb out of Courmayeur felt tough after a really long descent into town, but the views were incredible and we were rewarded after the ascent up. I was really enjoying myself and I guess you could say I was on a high! This section was my favorite part of the entire race and the only part of the race I took photos. The sun didn’t last very long, and the rest of the time it was raining, or snowing.

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Photo: Tara Berry

I was eating OK. I was getting some food down from the aid stations (meat, cheese and soup)! I was using tailwind in my water, which I carried with me along with some other gummies and blocks. Out of everything, soup was going down the best at most of the aid stations (A few times I had 2-3 bowls of the noodle soup just in one aid station)!

We got to a really cold section between Arnouvaz and La Fouly and it started snowing. I had everything on (even a bandana covering my entire face with just enough space to see). Dressed like a ninja, I was still moving steady here, but it was FREEZING cold, and windy as well. The ground and plants were frozen and covered in fresh frost and snow. I thought about adding another layer, but stopping for even a moment to try and put on more underneath was not an option in those winds, so I kept moving as quickly as I could to get to the top of the climb as it meant there was another long descent…the longest of the entire race.

Coming down into La Fouly it started to warm up a bit. On the downhill on the way into La Fouly, I rolled my ankle at some point, however, I could still run on it and it wasn’t too sore.

I got to La Fouly (110 km), and my friends and unicorns from home (Tory Scholz & Tara Holland) had made a video for me that was played on the screen, which surprised me and made me laugh! At the end of the short clip they were yelling “Get out of the Aid Station”. I heard the video come on a 2nd or 3rd time (after other runners had played), and realized I really need to get out of there! I was trying to eat more soup, as it was the only thing going down well at this point. I left the aid station and the downhill continued, some on road through a village. It was pretty quiet and not many people were around during this section.

I knew I would see Ryan soon. I was moving a bit slower on the downhill’s and there was a big downhill section on some roads and then up to Champex-lac. Looking back at the stats, I was in 163 overall at this point.

UTMB GOOD SHOT

Photo: UTMB

When I saw Ryan he had my bag of food and clothing all spread out and ready to go! I don’t think I took anything, even though he kept asking me what I needed! I didn’t want to sit down at first and I pranced around a bit, grabbed some pasta, soup, and tried to get some food down but I wasn’t able to eat too much. Ryan asked me if I wanted to change my clothes. I was a bit wet underneath from sweating, but I didn’t feel like changing. I asked him how long I had been there and he said about 15 minutes, it felt like 5. I realized again, I needed to get out of there! I was about 100 feet out of the aid station when I realized it was absolutely POURING and I was getting soaked quickly. I wasn’t wearing my rain pants and I went off to the side of the road under an under-hang to fully put on all my gear. It was already too late, I was soaked underneath and my gloves were soaked through. I opened up some hand warmers I had to try and warm up my hands and they worked well.

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Photo: Tara Berry

I was slow out of here to the next aid station even though there was some runnable sections, I was walking a bit. My ankle started really hurting on the downs and I couldn’t really run well downhill anymore especially on any technical parts, I kept rolling it. I was getting cranky- just in time to see all my friends!

From here to the next aid station, it felt like one of the longest sections. At some point there was a long uphill and I was stomping through tons of mud. There was a lone hiker hiking up and he looked like he was going camping up there for the night. I heard a sound behind me and he was yelling at me from down below. I saw him holding something up and realized it was my credit card. Of course it’s something I would lose during a race, but I got it back!

I came into Trient to see my crew again (Ryan, Alicia & Vincent were there this time). Alicia & Vincent had just ran CCC the day before finishing in the middle of the night, and they had made it out to support! Alicia was being really encouraging and telling me I was doing well and I was going to get to the end. I really wasn’t in the mood for chatting. I told them they should go home and sleep as I was going to be awhile and planned to walk the rest due to my ankle (about 40km to the end)! Alicia thought I could run and she mentioned taping or wrapping it, for some reason I refused and said that I planned to hike the rest!

I left there pretty quickly and started hiking up the next climb and my ankle was now hurting on the ups AND downs. I saw another women coming down in the opposite direction. I asked if she was ok as she was slightly limping. She had rolled her ankle in the mud and said she was done, I told her I also had a bad ankle and tried to encourage her to come with me and that we could hike together! She was worse off than me and said she didn’t think she could make it and warned me to be careful in the mud on the downhills up ahead. I stubbornly stopped and sat on a trunk and wrapped my ankle up the best I could myself with the required bandage we had to carry! This was a gear requirement and ALL of the required gear came in handy!

This did help quite a bit to stabilize it and I found that I could run again on the downs in not too much pain, it was manageable. I wasn’t moving quickly, but I was still moving.

This section had so much mud on the downs! Some of the time I was just trying to stay upright after sliding around corners, and used my poles to stop myself from falling.

I noticed, as it was getting dark I was starting to see things. Some of which I knew was not real once I got closer; (a deer which was a branch), faces and people in large rocks, the trees were forming structures and people, and scary faces were jumping out at me.

I got to the second last aid station Col Des Montets and re-fuelled again on soup. I think I stopped eating anything after the 2nd last aid station and I don’t know how much I was drinking. As a result, things were starting to get weird. I was with another guy named Oscar, and a couple of other men. We didn’t chat at all, but we were running near each other and sticking together. At one point we stopped for a moment and I looked up and screamed! I thought there was a black panther sitting under a tree up ahead of us. This really felt real to me at the time and swore I saw eyes starting back at me. I told Oscar what was there and possibly hid slightly behind him! He assured me things were ok and he didn’t think he could see anything. He probably thought I was crazy. We continued up and it was gone… I was wanting to get out of the forest by this point, it was creeping me out and I felt a bit trapped and claustrophobic.

Around this time we thought we were back on the same climb a second time, and we were delusional trying to look at the maps we had. We couldn’t figure out where we were, plus there were course changes on this section, which made it even more difficult to figure out. We thought we had somehow gone off course and done a loop going back on the course in the wrong direction. It was dark and hard to tell. We thought we were on the same bridge we had already been on and climbing up the same climb again… We contemplated calling the emergency # for help with where we were, when shortly after a medic came by and happened to be hiking up to the last aid station. He explained where the last aid station was up on the ski hill and continued on. We got to the top of the tree-line and all had trouble seeing where the aid station was, we kept going up through the fog trying to follow one light we could see of a runner or possible the medic ahead of us in the distance, and we finally stumbled our way through the fog and into the last aid station.

Mentally thinking we were lost, whether we actually got lost or not was draining every bit of energy left in me. The fatigue had set in big time and I couldn’t think straight.

Once we knew we were for sure on track and had made it to the last aid station at La Flagere, it was 8 km downhill to the finish! I stayed with Oscar for some of this, but was mainly alone as I got closer to the bottom of the descent. My lights were dying and I couldn’t see very well, but at this point it felt too difficult to figure out where my batteries were and I made do with the 3 faint lights I had.

I knew I was close when I could see streetlights and recognized one of the streets running into Chomonix. I came around one of the street corners and up ahead I thought I saw two massive grand stands, with two big groups of people singing. A choir all dressed in white I thought! How lovely! As I got closer it turned out this choir was actually a bunch of big trees with light colored leaves (yup things continued to get weird)!

I continued on and ran through the finish and into my friends arms! I was happy to have made it to the finish line at UTMB when it felt like a crazy second night! It’s an experience I’ll never forget! Chamonix and UTMB is such a special event, I’m excited to go back again (hopefully in 2018)!

In total it was 31 hours, 56 minutes. 22nd women, 204 overall.

IMG_0520Alicia Woodside, Tara Berry & Ryan Ledd.

Gear that got me through ALL the weather:

Merino long sleeve shirt, Merino pants, Merino T-shirt & Merino Sports Bra, Salomon skort, Salomon Gloves, North Face waterproof coverings for my gloves, Arteryks Gortex Norvan SL (AMAZING)!!! Inov waterproof pants (very light and compact)!, merino wool socks (2 pairs), a buff, Merino wool toque, Salomon Hat, black diamond poles, Patagonia down vest., hand warmers, Petzl headlamp, two Nebo bike lights clipped onto my pack, Salmon Sense Ultra (Same pair the whole race- these are my favourite shoes to date)!! Salomon 12 L pack.

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Alicia Woodside & Tara Berry

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Salomon Adult Fun Run Camp in Moab Utah! A day in the life of Ultra Running Academy 2017.

Your NEVER too old to go to camp and run around like a kid! Salomon UltraRunning Academy was full of playing, learning, meeting new friends, and talking about what we all have in common; running and playing outside.

The camp felt pretty surreal the whole time; from when I found out I was going, when I was on my way there, when we arrived, and even on the way home; It was an amazing  and humbling dream world! I think when we all applied most of us thought our chances of actually getting picked to go were pretty slim (at least I did). I couldnt have been more excited, and the camp was beyond what I even imagined! 

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Red Cliff Lodge down below– where we stayed 

 

Day 1: Most of us flew into Salt lake city and met at the airport. We took two different vehicles and Claire  drove our van to Mohab (about a 3 hour drive). This was mainly a travel day, but of course when we arrived we all had the same idea in mind~ to do a little run and explore the area before dinner.   

 

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Corrine Malcom & Jessy Forgeuf

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Jessy Forgeuf

 That evening everyone was “presented” and we individually introduced ourselves; where we are from, what we do for work, how we started running, etc. It was great to learn a bit about everyone before the week started! 

 

  

Meet the Salomon Staff & Ultra Players:

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Men.jpg

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Corrine, me, Arden Young

Day 2:

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Danny Garrett

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Uphill with Anna Frost

Each morning of camp (besides the race day) started off with morning yoga led by Anna Frost, breakfast, then Q&A time with Anna and Max King. We discussed different topics about running; such as nutrition, preparing for hot or cold races, and whatever other advice we wanted to talk about! Thank you!

 

 

We then went out for our first run as part of the camp. This day was about uphill running techniques. We broke off into 3 groups; one with Greg Vollet, one with Anna, one with Max and switched every 20 minutes.  I realized I really need to work on my uphill and I learnt a lot about how to use poles (I’ve barely used poles but Ive been doing it all wrong)! This uphill workshop really made me more aware of my footing and posture the rest of the week!  When you have been doing something for awhile you dont really think too much about technique and I just go out and hike or run! It was great to go back to thinking about some basics!

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Chris Mocko & Marianne Hogan- Both won the 50 miler Behind the Rocks

After the uphill workshops we continued running  around fisher canyon. Unfortunately Jessy rolled her ankle during this run and was in a boot the rest of the trip… :(.  She still kept a smile though throughout the whole time at camp!

Greg also dislocated his toe, in which Salomon Ultra player (podiatrist) Annie helped snap back into place on the trail!  Greg powered on the rest of the week, and even ran the race! He is crazy tough and you wouldn’t of known he had this injury! 

After running we usually quickly fit in lunch (Usually Burgers! yum).. before heading off to afternoon workshops! 

 

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Salomon Ultra Sense ~ new shoe love!

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Every afternoon we broke out into smaller groups for workshops from 2-4, and then 4-6 pm. We switched groups over the next two days to get to all of the workshops…The workshops included a video group with Sebastien Montaz-Rosett; we ran around having fun learning how to use go pros, drones, and various filming equipment and techniques in the hills above our lodge. Another workshop consisted of communication and social media with Robbie Lawless. We also got to meet with Pierre Minary, product line manager to discuss shoes and look at different types of footwear and some protoypes. There was also a physiotherapy block section where each group was scheduled with Kristin Berglund.

During each workshop we talked a lot about  why we run, how we started running, and we had the opportunity to share our experiences and stories. I really enjoyed these workshops, as all of them gave me a chance to really learn a lot about everyone’s backgrounds and experiences doing something we all love. I found these sessions extremely powerful and inspiring from both the individuals leading them, and all of the athletes. 

In the evenings we had dinner and then usually there was a presentation or videos. This evening we had a health and anti-doping information session and learnt how to access SHOL (Sport and Health Online) in which any athlete can contribute to anti-doping. It was great to see that Salomon is really taking a leading role in this; protecting their athletes, contributing to the anti-doping fight, and keeping this sport clean.  

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Day 3:

Was about “Accepting the downhill. We had Yoga in the am at the lodge, breakfast, Q& A with Max & Anna, and out to Castle peak for a run. First we had to run wayy up before we could run down! 🙂

 

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Castle Peak

Jumping photo

Photo by: Robbie Lawless

Me- running castle peak

Photo: Robbie Lawless

Dakota Jones joined the camp the prior evening and Greg had him demonstrate some downhill techniques. Running downhill from the top of castle peak was sooo much fun! I really love technical downhill, so I felt like i was in my element here (and was my favourite area). There is a great downhill video on Salomon Facebook of a group of the guys running down:

https://www.facebook.com/salomonrunning/#

I was already at the bottom.. not because I am faster though ! .haha.

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Day 4:

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Photo: Robbie Lawless

We woke up earlier than usual this morning (left by 6 am to get to Dead Horse Point) to do Yoga during sunrise. IT WAS SO COLD but amazing!  

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Chris Jones, Photo by: Robbie Lawless

After we went for an easy run in the arches before the “Behind the Rocks” 50 miler race the following day.

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Photo by: Robbie Lawless

Arches 2

Photo by: Robbie Lawless

Day 5:

50 mile Race day- we were up early again and left the lodge by 4 am. (It was a 50 minute drive to the start of the behind the rocks race).

Since Orcas 50 km at the beginning of February, and even before that, I have had a nagging hamstring issue. I wasnt doing super long runs… But, I rested enough that I was not completely injured in time for the camp!  I was able to get through the race feeling much better than I expected!!!  I went into it wanting to have as much fun as I could and thought of it as an opportunity to explore the area. It still was hard at the end (as any ultra is), and I was really feeling any of the hills! 🙂 I used the downhill sections to get excited and push when I felt good. There were some difficult sand sections on course, but also tons of fun rocky technical sections!

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Me ~ about 60 Km in at the Behind the Rocks Ultra drinking all the coke.  Photo by: Robbie Lawless

 

 

 

 

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Arden Young, during Behind the Rocks Ultra Race. Photo by: Robbie Lawless

 

Day 6:

We had a big breakfast and then travel day back to the airport and home…

Now what?! Finishing camp felt a bit like finishing a race (and we also did do a 80 km race)!  The rushing thoughts of: 

What adventure do I plan?!

What do I sign up for next?!..

…All crept up very quickly. Luckily I have the most amazing trail running friends who jump on that opportunity and join in on the planning immediately.   I already have some long adventure runs planned for this summer with all my favourite trail runners. 

After complishing a race or adventure run I always get that feeling of setting a new goal. This summer UTMB is already on the calendar, but more than any race, I cant wait for these fun adventure runs with friends; most likely in Colorado, California, locally, and in Washington (Wonderland Trail), and more.

This whole camp experience definitely gave me a lot of insight into the trail running world and what Salomon is doing within our trail community. We had the opportunity to learn a lot of about our own goals, Salomon’s goals, as well as how Salomon is taking a leading role in the trail running community.

Going to this camp gave me an immense amount of inspiration from others around me. I was honoured to learn from amazing athletes about how they got into running, why they run, what they want to achieve, and about all of their amazing stories. I am lucky to have met such amazing new friends. I cant wait to follow along in their journeys and see what they all do next; whether that be having fun on the trails or racing.

I feel so lucky to have been able to experience this amazing adventure and excited to share what I learned with others in the trail community! If this sounds like something you are interested in and you are passionate about ultra running-  be sure to apply next year! I know I would do it again!

THANK YOU Salomon for such an amazing week I will never forget and for sharing your knowledge and inspiring all of us! Moab is such a beautiful place to play! #timetoplay

 

 

 

 

If you want to check out videos from the week check out Salomon Running Facebook page for links to videos by Sebastien Montaz-Rossett:

https://www.facebook.com/salomonrunning/

My You Tube Video Application:

 

Fat Dog 122 Miles – Long Race Report for a long race!

Every ultra is a new experience and many lessons are often learned running any ultra distance. I expected to learn a lot from this race, as it was the longest race I had ever signed up for and would be the longest run I had ever completed (by almost double). I’m still trying to figure out what those lessons were! But I think being challenged to your max, you learn a lot about yourself and what you are capable of (more than you think). I knew it would be a challenging course, but that is also why I was drawn to it. I had run parts of the course in 2014 pacing Josh Barringer, as well as did a relay leg that same year. When I paced the last section back in 2014, I was blown away by the views and inspired by Josh. I thought he was crazy (in a good way). I never thought I would sign up for this race, but it did stay in the back of my mind for the past two years. Reading about all the climbing, as well as some of the big descents excited me. The race being 2.5 hours away from Vancouver (in Manning park), also made it certain that there would many familiar faces around at most of the aid stations, which was also appealing to me. The aid stations were all pretty spread out so the logistics of this race called for some organization and planning, so typically Alex Lea (Named Team Manager when she couldn’t pace) organized a meeting before the race.

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The race was supposed to be 120 miles, but the week before the race it was announced that they were adding 2 miles due to moving an aid station, which added a bit more climbing to make it higher than Everest. The elevation gain was (8912.7 M/just under 30,000 feet). What was a bit more climbing and two more miles vs. the original 120 miles and just short of Everest? I really had no idea, but the 120mile distance was daunting enough! Alicia excitedly told me- It’s more time in the mountains!

Up until the start of the race I was still nervous about the distance, but I knew I was going give it my best. In the weeks leading up to the race I found myself mentally preparing by breaking down the race into three different adventure days. One day on my own, a night adventure with Spencer (one of my pacers), and hopefully just one more day adventure; split with Kristina and Alicia (pacers). Throughout the race I tried to not think about what km I was at and only what adventure day I was on. I did ask the distance to the next aid station at times to prepare what I needed to take with me for food. I knew getting to Bonnivier aid station (at 66km) would be a normal long run for me, and I had done some adventure runs around that distance comfortably in the past few months. Once I got to there, I would have pacers to run with. Easy right?!  My pacers were taking their whole weekend to come run with me. I wasn’t about to let down my pacers who seemed pretty keen about joining the running party!

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Pre-Race Dinner and Wine to Ease the Nerves.

At the briefing the day before we were warned to take it easy on the descents to have something left for the run-able section after Cascade. I was cautious of this, as I usually take down hills pretty hard. I tried to keep this in mind throughout the entire race in order to not “blow out my quads”. Even though I’ve never blown out my quads. I was in unknown territory and I trusted Heather Macdonald (Race Director) and Peter Watson (Course Director) knew what they were talking about.

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The race started at 10 am, which was also really appealing, as I love these later starts. I am not a morning person. This meant we got to sleep in until at least 7 (as we still had to bus to the start from Princeton).

Tory Sholtz, Hilary Matheson and I were all together before the start. Tory’s pacer made bandanas that were printed with “I am a fuckin Unicorn” and Tory found us before the race start to give us each one for good luck. I saw Randy Duncan and Lori Herron, who had just ran Hardrock and Western States, which was inspiring to hear about right before the start of our race. I had run parts of the Hardrock course in July and I told myself this course was nothing compared to those Hardrock climbs and descents. Lori very kindly offered me an avocado and I accepted, as why wouldn’t I eat more before the start of a 120 mile race?! I had eaten about half a bagel and a tiny bit of oatmeal, so the avocado was a good addition.

I headed to the washroom one last time before the race was about to start and didn’t see Hilary or Tory when I came back. I got super nervous right before, but also had a huge rush of excitement as I hadn’t ran AT ALL for the past week. My hamstrings were a bit sore the week prior to that, and I wanted to have a real taper before the race. To get me through the no running at all, I went in the sauna at the gym a few times to sweat as I saw it could be hot this weekend. Not sure if 4 times at the sauna made a difference, but I didn’t notice the heat or wasn’t bothered by it. I think I was supper excited the weather was so good and was hopeful that it wouldn’t be raining.

I knew that the first climb was a big one and I wanted to start slow, which I did. I was chatting with different people and met a few new friends on the way up. When it flattened out a bit I did some running, but I was mainly power hiking.  I passed a few people that were being cautious in the mud. I tried to avoid the mud for about 2 seconds and that was pointless. It was inevitable my feet were going to get wet! I got to the first aid station at Cathedral and as I got there I saw Angela Shartel up ahead just leaving the aid station. I had met her briefly in Colorado on part of the Hard Rock Course about a month prior when Tory Sholtz and I were down there playing in the mountains.

I consciously reminded myself that I didn’t want to be concerned about how I did in this race, my main goal was to finish and my second goal was to not run for two whole nights! I chatted with a few people about this on the way up who also had the same goal (about not wanting to be out there for two whole nights). I didn’t have any expectations on competing against others for top spots and I was in unknown territory with knowing how my body would respond to the longer distance.

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Top of the First Climb.

We continued climbing after the first aid station and I could still see Angela up ahead. She looked like she was going easy too, and it looked like she was stretching or grabbing her hamstring. I wondered if she was sore. It was super early on. She stopped for a moment and I slowly caught up to her and stayed behind. She asked me if I wanted to pass and I didn’t. I knew that she was very experienced with 100 milers and probably knew what she was doing! When I caught up to her I told myself; I was not to pass her! We were running along with Michael Plummer as well, who I had met last year doing some trail work in the states. We got to a downhill section and Angela asked if we wanted to pass her, again we both said no we were good. We chatted for a bit about where we were from, what races we had done, a few past races, and Michael filled me in on some of Daniel Probst plans at Baker.

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Angela Shartel & Michael Plummer

When we were running downhill Angela mentioned she was trying to go easy on the down hills to save her quads, which was fine with me. I didn’t want to destroy mine either!  She stepped in some mud along the way and fell gradually against the side of the hill and said her calf/foot was cramping and asked Michael or I if we could push on her foot/stretch it. Michael and I stopped, and Michael stretched it briefly for her. She was taking a moment and told us to go on we didn’t need to wait, so we continued on. I again made sure I wasn’t being too eager on the downhill. This other women name Jean who I met at the start, passed me going down- hill, but I didn’t follow her pace and kept my own. Ashnola aid station was not much further ahead. When I arrived, I was feeling good and eating well (I think I ate all of the bacon I had made a few days before for that section). I saw some familiar faces, Solana Klassen in the River and Nicola Gildersleeve at the aid station, amongst many others. Nicola reminded me I could dunk my hat in the bucket of water there while she filled my pack with water so I went and soaked my hat. I wasn’t feeling overheated, but I’m sure it helped me stay cool!

There was another climb up to towards Trapper, which I think I was going steady and again power hiked. Angela, Jean and I had all come into the Ashnola aid close together and I thought they may have both already left and were ahead of me, but later I realized I was in front of them. I didn’t spend a lot of time at most of the aid stations, but I did take the time to do what I needed to do; fill up water, grab more food, eat a bit there, and I changed my socks at all the aid stations where I had a drop bag (4 times throughout).

I slowly passed a few men going up the climb on this section, and continued passing people gradually along the way. I was going easy, having fun and taking photos. When I got to Trapper I saw a good friend Terry Bremner and he gave me a big hug. He whispered to me “your first woman”. I told him it was really early and I’m not thinking about that. I grabbed more food, ate some grill cheese, gels and watermelon and started to leave the aid station and saw Angela arrive as I was leaving. I was able to eat fairly well all this first day and my diet mainly consisted of tailwind, gels, gummies, lots of bacon (that I had pre-cooked and brought with me), and then real food at the aid stations.

There were stunning views after trapper and I was running along with a guy named Peter. I was enjoying the views and continued taking photos along the way. The sun was getting lower and the lighting on the mountain was beautiful. Peter stuck with me for awhile and we started running downhill together towards calcite. He said I may be going too fast for him downhill, but that he wanted to stay with me and my bear bell (I had attached to my pack). I had asked a few people as I was running with them (Angela and Michael if they were annoyed by the bear bell I could put it away). They said it was fine and they didn’t mind it.

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I later asked Peter if he thought that we were going too fast on the downhill? (I think I was being overly paranoid about running too fast on the down hills). He had ran 100 mile races before and he said it was good pace and if I was feeling good then run at my own pace. I agreed and took his advice.  We were back and fourth with a woman on a relay team throughout this section. As we were going downhill Peter said he was getting low on water and he had been low for quite awhile and was saving his last sip. I was pretty low as well and then a few minutes later I took my last sip.

I was drinking more than I usually do and sweating a bit more than usual due to the heat, but I thought I was drinking a good amount. Thinking back, I never had to pee at all throughout that first day until later in the day, which is pretty weird for me; but it didn’t seem to affect how I was feeling.

About 5 minutes later we got to a stream where water was left (hiked in). It came just in time! Peter lifted up the water for me to fill my bladder and then I held his bottles while he continued to hold the large container of water. I don’t think I would have been able to lift up those water containers to fill up my own water!

Calcite aid station seemed like it came shortly after. I grabbed more watermelon and put it in a cup to take with me but then dropped all the watermelon in the dirt, apologized to the volunteers and got some more watermelon, some gels, cliff cubes and I guess was pretty quick out of there. Peter was still grabbing some things when I started leaving the aid station. He called out after I had left something like, your already done? And I felt bad for leaving/not waiting! I called back and said that he will catch up and looked behind as he started off as well and he was close behind me. I can’t remember if I saw him again or not, or if he passed me or I stayed ahead of him? It is a blur! There was some gradual uphill I think, which I took some breaks and walked.

Before I got to the downhill near Pasayton River and the river crossing, I took a quick stop to finally pee for the first time that day! There was a steep decent with some ropes and then a switchback down to the river. I saw Sasha Brown and Brian McCurdy taking photos near the river and another guy ahead of me soaking himself in the river looking overheated.  I knew I was only a couple of Km’s away from Bonnivier once I got here, and I was pleased that I was almost done by “solo adventure”, which hadn’t really felt solo at all. I remember running pretty happy along the hwy really excited to see my crew for the first time and have Spencer join me. I was also getting excited about running at night, the cooler temperature, and I am just more of a night owl in general.

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Photo: Brian MCcurdy

At Bonnivier I changed my socks and shoes (although just a new pair of the same brand- Brooks Cascadia), and I grabbed all my night gear (one more light – I carried two hand helds and a headlamp), plus I grabbed my down jacket. I tend to get really cold and was prepared for the coldest of weather!

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I heard the reports from last year how it was raining, there was lightening and hail. Many people dropped due to hypothermia. Being cold is definitely my weakness! Last year at Cascade crest I dropped at 70 miles as I was so cold and shaking for hours, and when I finally got to an aid station, I couldn’t manage the thought of getting back out there. This time, I had warm clothes, heat warmers, a rain poncho, along with all the other mandatory gear (emergency blankets, pants etc) ! Even though the weather forecast looked perfect and sunny, that could change quickly in the mountains and I didn’t want to be caught unprepared again!

Luckily I didn’t need any of my warmer clothing or emergency supplies. I even wore shorts all night long and just one long sleeve merino wool (although I was sweating a bit in it and probably could have been wearing a t-shirt for some of the night). It was a beautiful warm and clear night!  When Spencer joined me he suggested we put away my bear bell. Haha I had a feeling he would want to put it away! Spencer had joined Tory and I on a night run prior to this and also asked if I could ditch it. I personally find it soothing, but I agreed we could put it away.

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Photo: Spencer Sheinin

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Photo: Spencer Sheinin

Spencer and I gradually climbed up towards Heather. On our way up just before it was about to get dark, we saw a guy lying off the side of the trail in the bush with his eyes closed. We asked if he was ok?! He responded and said he was just resting, as he was feeling nauseous. Spencer told me to continue on and he stopped and talked to him for a bit to make sure he was ok. He seemed to be fine and Spencer quickly caught up to me. It started getting dark as we were ascending and getting close to Heather Meadows. Somewhere before the top, in the middle of the trail I almost stepped on part of a deer leg. The blood on it looked somewhat fresh and this freaked me out a bit, but I wasn’t too nervous as at least I wasn’t alone! Spencer yelled out “hello Bear Bear” a few times along the way up. I bet he wish I still had my bear bell out then! We were told at the briefing that there was a grizzly in this area but it’s rarely seen. I asked spencer if he had kicked the dear leg off the trail as it would probably freak people out? He said there was no way he was touching that!

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Photo: Spencer Sheinin

I could feel my hamstrings starting to get a bit tight after all the climbing which was a bit concerning as it was still pretty early. I think I was just looking forward to the big downhill! Before we got to Buckhorn aid station I found myself walking some of the flat sections. I think I needed more food. When we got to buckhorn I was offered soup, which was the perfect fix. As we were climbing back up the hill out of the aid station we saw Angela and her pacer. She was close behind me and I figured she would probably pass me soon, but then I didn’t see her again until the last section of the race.  I kept a steady pace and really started feeling great on the downhill sections. It was a clear night and the moon and stars were bright. We enjoyed the shooting stars (there was a meteor shower that night!) and Spencer would often yell out when he saw one. He startled me a few times! We were running a pretty good pace all the way to Nicomen Lake. I arrive there to see familiar faces and get a hug from Erin, Alexa and Matt. They offered me some perogies, which I took in a bag with me. I had been talking about soup for the last few km’s telling Spencer I really hoped they had some as it seemed to be going down so well. Luckily Matt had one thermos of soup and he said as I was there early enough I could have some! The soup was making my night! They told me I was in 3rd overall. I was pretty surprised and also thinking, oh crap what the heck this wasn’t my plan, am I going way to fast? I shouldn’t be in third should I?  But I told myself I was feeling good and didn’t feel like I was pushing myself. I tried to block out where I was in the race.  The descent down to Cayuse felt long regardless. I was going steady but I did need to walk a few times when there were some small climbs, and I found myself stopping to pee several times! I tried eating the perogies and dropped one by accident. As I was still trying to be cautious about not blowing my quads I think I was breaking quite a bit, not how I usually run on down hills. I’m not sure if it was the cause of my feet pain later, if the pain would have happened regardless, or if I needed more cushiony shoes. I was having trouble eating food at this point and finding myself coughing and choking when trying to get it down. I was trying to swallow big pieces using my water. Spencer was the voice of reason and coached me on taking small little bites if I was having trouble eating. I tried eating some bacon as well. I ran out of water here as well but I knew there was a stream coming up along the way and filled up there 10-15 minutes after I ran out. I was probably drinking too much now as I had to pee quite often.. I was craving soup again and hoped that Cayuse had more soup. When I got there sure enough they did and again I filled up my bottle with soup to take with me and also ate a bunch of watermelon. Soup and watermelon seemed to be going down well at this point.

The next section from Cayuse to Cascade was what I would describe as a fun rolling section (some gradual climbs and then some fun descents). I Felt like I had a good rhythm going here going up then down, up then down. I found this section really fun at the time and was enjoying the change of terrain from just straight downhill.  The sun was just starting to rise and it was getting a bit lighter out as we got close to Cascade aid station. I was getting excited to see the rest of my crew. Kristina told me that they were told that I would get there around 5:30 am? based on when I had left Cayuse, but apparently I arrived a lot earlier than they were expecting (15-30 minutes ahead of what they thought).

As Spencer and I ran into the parking lot I thought I saw my car in the lot and realized that my boyfriend Ryan and Alicia may be there! I didn’t expect to see them until later in the day and thought they were sleeping at Shawatum. This made me really excited. Sure enough, everyone was there! Alex, Alicia, Ryan and Kristina.  I changed my shorts and top in the outhouse here for a “new day” and to help with feeling fresh. I know Spencer told Kristina I hadn’t been eating much and reminded me there are not many calories in soup. They had me eat half a breakfast burrito there and I took half with me in a bag (which I didn’t end up eating)! I had an “emergency pair” of old shoes in my drop bag at cascade in case I wanted to change. My feet felt fine at the time and I just changed my socks.

There was about a 5 km section on the highway when we left Cascade, which I embraced as the km’s seemed to go by quickly. We arrived at the next aid station and again I took soup with me. As we continued on along the river it was mostly flat with some undulating sections. I felt like we were going at ok pace, but then somewhere with maybe 10 km to go before shawatum aid, the bottom of my feet started to get really sore. They were almost cramping? Or just super sore? I took my shoes off to stretch a few times when it started to get worse. I started longing for the pair of shoes I had all the way at skyline (Hokas). Why didn’t I have those shoes available earlier at Shawatum? Why didn’t I change my shoes at Cascade?! We continued on, but my pace was quite a bit slower and I was often asking Kristina how far we were from the aid station. Every step started to hurt.  I decided when I got to Shawatum I would spend some time there eating (as I was so focused on my feet I probably also wasn’t eating much). I also planned to put my feet up in the air to give them a break. I hadn’t sat at any of the aid stations so far (except to change my socks/shoes). I planned to spend as much time as I needed at this next one. When I got there I was happy to see more familiar faces (Mary Ann and crew). I took my socks off and had quite a few blisters forming. I did have some at Cascade, but they had gotten a bit worse by this point as I just left them alone at Cascade. The first aid at Shawatum taped up all my blisters while I drank around 2-3 cokes to get down some calories. Kristina kept re-filling my bottle for me. The volunteers also kindly made me some scrambled eggs (and one piece of bacon), which I thought I may be able to eat; but unfortunately when I tried to eat them they didn’t seem appealing anymore.

When I left Shawatum, my feet felt a bit better and I was able to run more steadily than the few km’s before Shawatum, but the pain on the bottom of my feet continued and I had to stop and take off my shoes and stretch several times. I contemplated running in just socks to see if that would be better (ultra-brain), but when I took off my shoes to try I realized there were too many rocks/ the ground wasn’t soft enough.  I made it through this section and we finally arrived to Skyline Aid station. When I got to Skyline and saw Ryan and Alicia, I bursted into tears.  I told them that my feet had been on “fire” and I was waiting for this change of shoes for a while now. The volunteer there started asking me my “mental questions” that we had sent in answers to prior to the race. I answered what my first trail race was with tears in my eyes. The volunteer ignored my tears and exclaimed that I was good to go! I changed into hokas and Alicia helped me pack my pack with food. She was asking me what food I wanted out of my drop bag. I couldn’t really answer her as none of it looked good. Alicia told Ryan to start rubbing my feet. I had taken off my socks already and he obliged to massaging the bottom of my dirty discussing feet, which relieved the pain temporarily. I think I started laughing, as I know how much Ryan hates feet! The volunteer said that I was the only person that had been laughing at this aid station, which made me feel a bit better. Alicia said I looked good and apparently didn’t look like I hadn’t slept like some others did.

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Photo: Alicia Woodside

Alicia got to pace me starting at around 100 miles into the race and got the toughest job, as she definitely got me at my worst! We left the aid station and I was initially super relieved to have new/different shoes. As soon as we left the aid station a blister on the back of my heel popped and I had to adjust my shoe/socks. It was one that was already taped and it quickly didn’t bother me, but the bottom of my feet continued to be an issue. Alicia was suggesting maybe I should fold my socks down under my feet to help with cushioning. I thought it would probably just cause blisters. We continued on and I was walking/hiking (even some of the flatter sections just after Skyline). The shoes didn’t seem to help, the change of shoes seemed to have come too late? And my feet were not getting better. I had taken two advils when I was with Kristina, and then took two more about half an hour after that when my feet were not getting better. The advil didn’t seem to be helping at all and it would be too much to take any more. We climbed slowly up towards the next aid station. Every step was quite painful and it was hard to try and not think about the pain. Alicia did a great job at entertaining me and trying to get me to focus on music. She said that we could hike the whole last section, and even hiking she decided that the most it would take us was around 8 hours?  I didn’t want to think about how long this last section was, but I knew once I had left Skyline there was no turning around and not outs. I knew I would finish this if I meant I would be walking the rest of the way (which I was fine with). I had poles for this last section.  When we finished the switchbacks of that first climb and got to what felt like the top of the climb, Alicia started playing “German Sparkle Party”.  I looked behind and Angela and her pacer were quickly approaching us, so I stepped to the side of the trail to let them pass. Alicia tried to talk to them about the music she was playing but they didn’t respond. Angela looked great and on a mission.

I was walking at this point and had no intention of trying to keep up with Angela when she passed.  I did try and run a very brief period on a downhill towards the next aid station, but it was painfully slow.  I don’t think Angela and her pacer stopped at that aid station, as I heard later that she thought I may try and catch her on the downhill.  My main goal was to finish and I knew I was going to – eventually. I told myself I didn’t want to let it bother me that she was ahead as I never thought I be close to winning this to begin with! Angela finished so strong (almost an hour ahead of me)! She must have blasted through the last 20 km, or it could have just been that I was moving that much slower. It was amazing and inspiring to see how strong she was at that point. We continued on at what felt like a snail pace and Alicia tried to get me to eat. She said I wasn’t eating enough, even if I wasn’t running I needed to eat to move faster. She offered me a choice of three different things and I refused them all and told her I had eaten TONS yesterday. Food wasn’t the issue! It was my feet!  I’m sure I still needed food too…

As I wasn’t eating she declared that she was also going on a “hunger strike”. We would both suffer! She kept this up for a bit and then later finally ate her sandwich she had brought. I kept having to take my shoes off and put my feet up and stretch the bottom of my feet in order to get moving again. I was often asking how far we were. When I realized we still had quite a ways to go (I think it was over 10 km or more), I finally agreed to eat small amounts. I got down a gel, and a couple of gummies. When I wanted to stop and take my shoes off she negotiated with me. She said that I could only stop if I used the stop to eat at the same time. It seemed to work, as I really wanted to stop to take my shoes off, so I had to get down food in order for her to agree to let me take these breaks!  I’m still not sure the food was an issue or really helped my feet problems. We got to the last aid station at Sky Junction, and for some reason I thought that we had done the “6 false summits”, but apparently they were ahead. I sat down to take a break at this aid station and holy crap were we getting swarmed with mosquitoes! Shawatum had nothing on these ones. I can’t imagine being a volunteer at this aid station. They must have gotten eaten alive. It helped me get out of there pretty quickly after filling up on some more coke.

On the descent down towards lightening lake I did start running, but it was short lived. I think I got excited that we were closer and this was almost done, but then I asked Alicia how much farther she thought we were. When she told me 5 km, I’m pretty sure I started tearing up. That sounded so far. Alicia encouragingly told me something like “you’ve already ran so far this is nothing”. It didn’t sound like nothing to me. I walked a bunch going downhill mixed with some running (or swinging off my poles). When we got close to the bridge to cross the lake I was walking and made Alicia walk with me along the lake as I told her I wouldn’t be able to run into the finish line when we did finally did get around the lake, (if I also ran this section). Alicia danced around me and did figure skating turns and moves, which did help a bit to distract me but I don’t think I gave her any smiles. Instead I’m pretty sure I was glaring at her. When we got the end of the lake and the trail ended, we started running. When we got close to the finish line I somehow managed to smile as I crossed. I finished in 32:30:52.

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I couldn’t believe I was finally done and happy to get my feet into the lake! I managed to stay in 2nd women, (3rd fastest time on the course), and 8th overall. It was amazing having all of my crew and so many familiar faces at the finish line. This was definitely my favourite race to date (despite all the pain the last 40-50 km). I can say that now a week and a half later, even while still dealing with an infected toe..

IMG_2928My Crew, (missing is Alex). My whole body was swollen…must have been all that salty soup..

I can’t say enough about how wonderful my entire crew was. I couldn’t have run this race without them! I felt so supported before, throughout, and after the race. Huge thanks to everyone on my crew: Alicia, Kristina, Spencer, Alex and Ryan- you were all amazing!! And I couldn’t of finished without my wonderful pacers who dealt with me being a “whiny baby” (the slogan of the race), for several hours. This really felt like a team achievement and I felt so lucky to have such supportive friends willing to run far distances with me.

I also can’t say enough about how organized this event was. The whole course was so well marked (I never once questioned being off trail). I was worried about that pre-race and brought my phone with me, (with the downloaded RunGO FatDog route) just in case. Fat Dog also has the best volunteers! Some of who had to hike in supplies to very remote aid stations!

I’m not sure if I’ll be back to run it next year.. It may take me a few months to decide something crazy like that! I’m still recovering and will be on the search for a better or different shoe. Taking suggestions!

IMG_2927The next day- All coloured buckles (under 37 hours)!

I am so proud of all of all of us! Hilary Matheson 3rd  women and and Tory Sholtz 6th women! Congrats my friends!

I know Tara Holland really wanted to be there and was also there in spirit (as part of our unicorn crew).

Full Results: https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=35969

 

Gorge Waterfalls 100 km

Rainshadow’s Gorge Waterfalls 100 km

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Gorge Waterfalls

Finally getting to this Recap of Gorge Waterfalls 100 km race… Not to mention to also posting on this blog after about two years!

I attempted to run Rainshadow’s Gorge Waterfalls 100 km for my second time last weekend. This was also the second time I have every tried running this distance. My favourite distance to run is 50 km races, but I also want to push myself to go further.

Races don’t always go as planned, but that’s why I love trail running! Running ultra-marathons can feel easy some days and on other days, the same race, trail, distance can feel extremely challenging. This was one of those tough challenging days for me.

Prior to Gorge 100 km I was feeling good and excited to run under all the beautiful waterfalls on this course! I remember having a blast last year. I took a tough fall last year on some rocks in the first 10 km due to my headlamp going out, but I was able to recover and I learnt a lot from this experience about having good lights! I had some expected lows as well, but I was able to push through without too much difficulty.

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Road Trip Gorge 2015!

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I was also excited and grateful to have my best friends and boyfriend there. Alicia was also running the race, and Tory, Julien and Ryan joined for the fun trip down to Portland Oregon!

The race started at 4 am on Saturday, and I woke up around 2:45 am feeling pretty good and somewhat rested even with the early start, as we had gone to bed so early! It was great to have my best friend Alicia Woodside running close by for most of the morning. I would get a bit ahead on some of the up hills and then Alicia would come barreling down fast on the down hills and pass me, and so on.

This year I ran up most of the switchbacks early on in the race. Last year I think I hiked more early on as I was scared of the 100 km distance and more scared of not finishing. This year I wanted to beat my time and before the race I didn’t even think about not finishing. In hindsight not really knowing this distance well, I should have started a bit slower and see how I felt later in the race! I have gone out too fast many times in races over the years. I have been pacing myself well for 50 km races with no real issues but 100 km is a different beast and I have yet to figure it out!

After around 20-25 km Alicia and I were running behind a train of about 10 runners. This felt unusual for how far we were in the race. It was on a downhill section before we got to the 2 miles of road. I like going pretty fast on the down hills and Alicia is even faster so we were both wanting to pass but it was a narrow single track. Once we got settled in and realized it was not going to happen it was fun running down this smoother section all together (still some unexpected rocks that were hidden!).

Once we got to the road section this train spread out and we were able to run at our own pace. Alicia and I were together on this section and I remember feeling pretty relaxed. I remember asking Alicia how she was feeling as well and we both thought we were feeling great and going at a good pace. We weren’t really focused on who was ahead. One woman took off really fast it seemed all of a sudden when we hit the road, which surprised us both. We both were not really sure how many women were ahead. We talked about how we remember last year we ditched our lights at the end of the road, as it was light by that time. I thought we must be going faster this year as it was still dark when we reached the aid station on the road and I couldn’t ditch my lights until later on at Cascade Locks aid station.

After the road we separated out a bit and I was mainly running alone. I was still feeling pretty good at this point. Then somewhere around 30-35 km (before Cascade Locks) I started to feel nauseous all of a sudden. It came on super fast. I was running down a gravel road section and all of a sudden I was projectile vomiting Vega Gels. I had been eating Gels all morning and had not had any issues until this point. As I was vomiting I didn’t stop running. I was thinking, No this is not happening so early on, I’m going to be fine and I will recover. I thought I must have just been eating too many gels and I was too full. I had stuffed myself with oatmeal before the race and was eating gels throughout the morning. I have had other races where I have vomited and struggled to get through the race, but in those cases I had taken salt pills and attributed getting sick those times from taking salt pills when I probably didn’t need them.

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Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

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I continued on and didn’t feel like I had dropped the pace. I got to Cascade Locks a few km’s later and was worried I had vomited up most of the gels I had eaten the whole morning so I grabbed two peanut butter and jam sandwiches to try and maintain my energy. I struggled to eat them and they ended up in my pack squished and mostly uneaten. I tried eating some M&M’s and and candy instead to get anything down but was also having difficulties eating these yummy treats. Between 40-50 km I was still struggling to eat anything. I was still feeling nauseous, having stomach cramps, and felt like all the little climbs were difficult. I found myself wondering how much further until the turnaround at 50 km. I was walking up some runnable sections. I didn’t have a watch and asked a group of hikers if they knew what time it was. At this point they said it was approximately 9 am. I have been able to get through lows in past races but this seemed to keep going on longer than normal. I was grateful for any down hills to try and recover. There was a downhill section before the turnaround at 50 km in which I was able to run down and I must have looked alright as everyone was saying how I looked stronger than Michelle who was up ahead about 10 minutes or so, and I should try and catch her?!  I didn’t reveal to anyone that I was feeling terrible as I still had hopes of getting through this. I grabbed some Gu gels at the aid station to try and get something new tasting down. I started out back up the hill and I saw Alicia coming down not far behind. She also said Tara, there are two girls ahead of you about a km, you can catch them. I wanted to believe this but I knew I was struggling and wasn’t thinking too much about trying to catch anyone, more about being able to finish. When I started back up the hill I felt like I was getting worse and worse, not better and I had to do a lot of walking. Alicia caught up to me when we were running down a long logging road looking path. I remember I kept looking back to see where she was and if she was close behind as I was really needing some help.   Sure enough when she caught up to me she was encouraging me to stay with her and run with her. I confessed I had been feeling awful for the past few hours and I was thinking of dropping at the next aid station. She told me that I will feel better in 20 minutes and to give it time. She told me to run with her and she would lead us for a bit. What a great friend! I told her that she should keep going and try and catch the lead girls. She looked strong. I tried to stay with her but I couldn’t keep the pace she was going. She gradually got further and further ahead as I continued to fade and I could hear her yelling at me to continue on as she took off down the hill. Thinking back to her continuing to yell at me as she gradual went further and further ahead makes me laugh, as I could no longer hear what she was yelling to me, but I know she was trying to encourage me to go on.

I continued to try and walk/run. I was having stomach cramps and had to make a dash for the bushes a few times. I continued to struggle with stomach cramps, was dry heaving at points, and was not eating. At some point I changed my goal of finishing the race to just trying to make it to Cascade Locks at 65 km. I started thinking why am I putting myself through this and I decided I was really NOT having fun anymore..I didn’t want to hate trail running. I decided I was done and finishing as soon as I could. I was asking other runners as they ran by me how far they thought it was to Cascade Locks. One runner told me maybe about 3-4 miles. This sounded far. I started looking down the mountain to see if there were any trails that lead to the road/ highway and I could hitch hike back to the start, but there were mainly just steep cliffs. I could hear the cars down below but there was no exiting out of the trail. I got to a sign that said Cascade locks 2 miles and it sounded so far. I pushed myself to try and run/walk to get there faster and be finished my run for the day. I was still ditching the trail to go into the bushes. Other runners were asking if I was ok. I told them I was having a rough time and I was dropping.  There were so many amazing people in the race that were trying to encourage me on but I had made up my mind and was excited to just be finished walking/running for the day.

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I got to the aid station at Cascade Locks and saw Tory and Ryan and found myself tearing up. I’m not sure if it was more because I was embarrassed I was dropping, because I was not feeling well, or that I was so happy to be at the aid station.  I told Tory that I was sorry but she was not going to be able to run with me. I was not going on. I left to find a toilet down the hill. After, I sat down next to the aid station and tried to drink some Gatorade and rehydrate. I had numerous people come up to me (Tory, Matt, Solana) and try and convince me to continue on. I was being extremely stubborn and told them I was not having fun and I had already made up my mind over an hour ago! I didn’t want to walk and struggle for another 35 km. I was happy with finishing my run here at 65 km. Today just wasn’t my day and I didn’t want to run anymore. Poor Tory, Matt, Solana, Ryan. Thanks for trying and dealing with me! Everyone was trying to be so supportive but I really didn’t want to continue on. I wanted to go cheer on everyone else running and hang out at the finish line! Tory even kept trying to convince me to go for a walk with her “over that way” and listen to Taylor Swift and see how I felt. Solana again asked me if I was sure about dropping when I was in the back of the truck ready to drive away! You guys are all amazing and I felt more terrible saying no to all of you than actually dropping!

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I’m not sure why I was nauseous on this particular day. Trail running is always a learning experience! Always having to tweak and test out hydration, food, pace, until you find what works well for you! I was happy with running 65 km and know there will be many more races! I had a great time at the finish line and seeing Alicia come 4th! And Alexa and Hilary crushing their first 100 k! See Cloe’s Race Report on the Gorge Waterfalls 100 k:  Chloelongstride.blogspot.ca

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Tara Lynn Berry- Not Running for Gold

I consider myself to be a well-rounded runner, however, very passionate about running (when I am running). My running friends would say that I am committed to running 100%, 60% percent of the time. By this I mean when I am in “run mode” I train fairly frequently, have a bit of a competitive side, go to work outs with our running club VFAC (Vancouver Falcons Athletic Club) one out of two work outs a week,  and go to every long trail run planned with friends. This usually lasts about 2 weeks!  Then I am back to 2 weeks of casual short runs on my own! Usually these runs are on the sea wall, kits beach, Jerico, or UBC. I do not seem to ever go on a “tempo” run (as I try to sometimes plan) and when I do they usually turn into a run/walk enjoying the scenery type of run. On these occasions I think to myself “I’ll make this a short run instead because I do not feel like trying to run fast, and I’ll just get up super early tomorrow and try and do a tempo then”. This does not seem to happen! These 2 week cycles seem to continue.  I do not get a training plan from our club coach, as I would not follow it. The rest of my week could consist of going for dinner or drinks with “non-running friends” and with running friends!, staying up late on weekends, going snowboarding to Baker or Whistler, watching hockey games, working, taking courses, and fitting in a long run every 2-3 weeks if there is time.

I may not have your typical runner’s diet. My favorite foods consist of pizza, burgers and fries, Starbucks ham breakfast sandwiches, chips, mexican food (ground beef tacos), and beer (wheat beer or Granville island winter ale). So much so that Alicia Margaret June Woodside was persistent that I approach chronic tacos for sponsorship, I was not keen on Chronic tacos as I frequently go to Taco bell for lunch, but I did agreed Mega bite was a good alternative option for a sponsor I could approach.

My “running friends” believe that I do not “train”, however, I do run on a regular basis just not always at an intense level 100% of the time! My “non-running” friends may not think this and say things like “Whoa 50 km that cannot be good for you”.  “Wow that is so far how do you run that far”. My advice for “non-runners” would be to go out and run and your body will follow (eventually)! I like inspiring “non-runners” and trying to get others excited about running and encourage “non-runners” to get out and try it so they can experience the feeling I do! I believe anyone can run and it can be fun if done in a way you find enjoyable, whatever that may be to you.

I run for fun, exercise, socializing, the amazing high you experience while running, the challenge or unknowns, long distances, pain and pushing my body to limits I never thought were possible. Running just happens to be one of my favourite sports amongst others such as hiking, snowboarding, soccer, volleyball, baseball, bike riding, bowling (yes bowling!). Generally I fill my days up completely and run out of time for chores such as laundry, going grocery shopping, regular errands, purchasing toilet paper. I believe “A clean house is a sign of a wasted life,” (as a magnet on my fridge states). However, my friends came over for lunch one day and discovered that I do maintain the essentials in my fridge (butter, beer and some frozen foods)! This is a way to get your friends to donate veggies to you…

Training does have its perks! When you have not trained and run a 50 km trail race unprepared (after not running for 2 weeks, in addition to spending the weekend prior in Las Vegas for three nights!), your body does not feel good! (My friends made fun of me as I waddled around Portland like a duck after the Gorge falls 50 km race recently in Portland. (End of March 2013).

When I heard about the Chukanut 50 km last year in March 2012, I thought it sounded fun and amazingly beautiful. At the time I had not ran further than 35 km EVER. It was my first Ultra marathon. I always considered the Marathon distance to be daunting, but somehow further just seemed so extreme that my time would not matter to me, so I decided to start with this run and I have loved trail running ever since!!!

Some training advice:

Train because you love it and not because it is scheduled. Don’t worry too much about times in races and enjoy the successes, challenges, and hardships as well. Everyone has good and bad training days and races in running. I like to stay positive no matter what the results are and look forward to the next run. I am passionate about running but not overly serious. So of course when Alicia Margaret June Woodside has her ideas of costumes for races I think great I’m in!

I consider myself to be fairly new to trail running, but I have ran a few trail races. I am inspired by ultra-marathoners that I have heard about that have completed amazing long distance adventures around the world. These stories inspire me to want to challenge myself to longer distances and goals. I am down for any type of runs with friends, rather it be short runs, long runs, road runs. As of late I prefer long runs in the trails, mountains and beach/sand!  So when the idea was brought up of going on a running adventure in Mongolia of course I am in!!! My training plan must slowly change in order to be prepared for this challenge and includes more preparation, planning and training than I am used to:

Gear Goals:

1)    Purchase proper gear for trail running rather than borrowing others (partially completed in preparation for Carmanah Walbran Park ) Further items needed! List includes:

tent, down jacket, hats, gators, cords, backpack (lighter!), 2 tarps, 2 ropes non stretch, hand warmers, feet warmers, hard alcohol, compression sacks, 2 Marino wool socks, down booties, matches, extra stove & propane.

Running & other Goals for the next few weeks:

1)   Carmanah Walbran Park camping and running trails (Completed).

2) Club Fast Ass Ultra marathon Saturday/ BMO Vancouver Marathon Sunday (Gold shorts will be present).

3) Gambier Island camping and running

4) Rim to Rim to Rim Grand Canyon/ (Partying in Vegas after!)

5) West Coast Trail

6) Kenny Chesney concert in Seattle (find somewhere to run possibly or if not successful…carbo load on beer)

7)  Sunshine Coast Trail

Nutritional Goals:

1)  More Fruits and Veggies