Grizzly Ultra 50K, Canmore

Wowzers! I finished it! 50.0 (ok, 50.9 according to my GPS watch, but supposedly 50!) kilometres of gruelling trail (though honestly not as bad as it gets in some ultras, for sure!)

Ok, where to start? Got the  race package the night before (sans T-shirt, they ran out of most sizes due to some sort of undersizing problem? Oh well, not a huge deal, T-shirt on the way soon!), went smooth and quickly, and it was nice that they were open late to 7pm, much easier to get out to Canmore from Calgary by 7 instead of 5.

Then we headed to the hotel, had a relaxing evening, some good food (Wendy’s, lol… the food of champions), had a mostly good sleep (what’s with people idling their huge diesel trucks for 15-20 minutes at 2am, I mean, it was 3 degrees out, you don’t need to idle at all! And then some idiot playing some musical tune with his car horn at 5am, beep beep beep … beep be-beep!), and woke up at 7 feeling pretty ready.

Mckenzie was feeling pretty sick so she wasn’t going to show up until later in the day, and my mom was quite sick leading her to not come at all… Sad for her, she’s missed a couple races of mine due to sickness and I know it’s frustrating for her.

Anyways, off to the race start, met up with everyone from 4iiii running on 3 relay teams (Cliiiimb, Sportiiiis, Viiiiva), the UCTC girls (another relay), and my UCTC buddy John, who was soling it as well. John and I had talked about running together for a bit, so we went with that for the first while… He’s been suffering some motivational problems since completing Ironman Canada in August (killing it in 10:13:48), and thus hasn’t been running much, but he’s still a super fit dude. We stuck together for about 2.7 of the 5 legs, and then he slowly fell off just a bit worse than I did.

The first two legs felt great, there were some steep hills we walked up, but overall we were maintaining a 5:20 to 5:30 per km pace. At the mid-leg checkpoints I had 2 cups of gatorade… John and I stopped to relieve ourselves a couple times, the time flew by as we told stories and got to know each other better… During the Leg 1 to Leg 2 transition I forgot to get any water or food, but hoped it wouldn’t affect me too much later (who knows if it did)… And then after Leg 2, I felt pretty fresh still heading into Leg 3, even calling for John to hurry up leaving the transition area… But it was a killer! So many rollers, lots of uphill, a huge steep uphill called the coal chutes. Was definitely fun to run in the summer on fresh legs, but I quickly lost my fresh leg feeling around kilometre 30 while still navigating all these damn hills! As it was single track, we started to separate out a bit, John and I. A guy overtaking us took a pretty good fall too, but stumbled back to his feet and ran on by, perhaps spurred on by embarrassment.

By the time I finished Leg 3, I’d opened up a 4 minute gap between John and I and couldn’t see him any more. Heading out for Leg 4, I was losing home a little bit too, it starts with a huge climb that on the chart only looked like 100 meters or so, but just seemed to go on and on, I felt like I was walking so much, and when I tried to run, I’d stumble on a root and the other leg would get a cramp as I corrected for the stumble. Anyways, Leg 4 was hell. Also, one of the corners was not well marked (apparently a problem last year?) and I just barely avoided missing it. 2 of the 3 teams from 4iiii did miss it and had to go back and correct.. Apparently John missed it too possibly and had to run back up a bit to where it was.

Coming in after 4, the best part was that I only had 5.7km to go with leg 5… I’d already been running well over 4 hours (I think I was around 4.5 now), 3 km further than I’d ever ran before, over 50 minutes longer than I’d ran, etc etc. The cheers of my friends and coworkers from UCTC and 4iiii were a huge boon here! Leg 5, supposedly the easiest of the bunch, but still so many hills! Running up any kind of incline seemed to give me calf and thigh cramps that I just couldn’t work out, so it was walking for most of the hills. Finally in the last km I found some downhill and just booked it, crossing the line looking really fine, haha… But in reality was hurting more than I showed, for sure!

It was such a huge huge mental-game help to have everyone out there cheering, so many many MANY huge thanks to John (listed first for all the conversation and pace sanity), Adam, Alana, Alexis, Becky, Ben, Caitlin, Darren, David, Francine, Greg, Jacqui, Janelle, Jay, John (2 haha), Kate, Kevin, Krista, Lisa, Mckenzie, Raelyn, Shawna, Vicki, Vipin, and everyone else, oh my god, thank you!! 😀

Was really awesome having so many friends turn out, Mckenzie made it for the end and was there at the finish, all the 4iiii people, all the UCTC girls, and then I waited for John and congratulated him on a good finish too, he had a lot of the same problems as me, just I think walked a bit more in the last 2 legs than I did.

Overall my official time was 5:20:47! I beat all 3 4iiii relay teams, the UCTC relay team, and John, who’d destroyed me in the Calgary Marathon back in May (3:03 to my 3:27), so overall pretty happy!! 40th overall, but my time would’ve gotten me 20th place last year! Competition stepped it up this year! Here’s the course map and my splits on Strava! Really slows down after ~38k. 🙂

Now I’m looking for a December Marathon possibly to make use of all this training and speed work I’ve done all summer, maybe BQ? *knocks on wood*

I leave y’all with some pictures!

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