Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Hello everybody. I wanted to thank everybody who took the time to visit my blog over the 2013 season to see how I was doing or learn more about the courses - perhaps with the intention of trying them yourselves in 2014. There were a wide variety of events, distances and types of races which really tested an individuals strengths and weaknesses. I certainly got spanked on a few but that is how we learn and I do mean to come back and address those failures - as I was able to address some of the failures of 2012.

2013 Race Results and Comments

RACE 1 - PICK YOUR POISON 50KM - April 27 2013
Link:  [link]

Finishing Time: 5:34:53
Lap 1:   1:12:03           Lap 2: 1:28:36            Lap 3: 1:21:40              Lap 4: 1:32:34

Position: 24th of 88
Link to my Blog: [link]

Comments: First race of season. Hip caused big problems and I lost up to 20-25 minutes due to it. Fitness reasonable but needed to have done more hill training. Would hope to manage 5 hours or close to next time if it goes well. 

Link:  [link]

Finishing Time: 8:57:40
Lap 1:   1:55:17           Lap 2: 1:56:16            Lap 3: 2:29:20            Lap 4: 2:36:48

Position: 19th of 79
Link to my Blog: [link]

Comments: First successful 50 miler. DNF'd at Sulphur Springs in 2012. Perfect temperature and weather. Pacing much better but don't have the endurance to keep it up. If fitness better I believe could reasonably go sub 8 hours on a good day but aiming to do the 100 miler next at this course.

Link:  [link]

Finishing Distance: 60.04 km

Position: 16th of 55
Link to my Blog: [link]

Comments: Good first 2.5 hours but faded from tiredness and also much walking due to what felt at the time like a possible stress fracture in foot. Made my pre-race predictions but certainly felt like I should have been able to do close to another 8km in that time. Will definitely do again to try to improve on. Weather was reasonable.

RACE 4 - NIAGARA ULTRA 50KM - June 22 2013
Link:  [link]

Finishing Time: 5:01:42

Position: 34th of 154
Link to my Blog: [link]

Comments: Disappointed. Very warm and fell apart quickly. In 2012 completed in 4:08 and even then walked about 3 miles - this time almost an hour slower! Got salt intake wrong and got severe cramping which cost me at least 15 minutes. Could do sub 4 hours with right fitness and good conditions but next year is 100km race there (out and back 2x) which I think would be dreadful to have to go out again, but would be good ultra training for 100 miles and get good points for the series. I may end up doing the 100km rather than the 50km again.

RACE 5 - CREEMORE 50KM - July 6 2013
Link:  [link]

Finishing Time: 6:19:59

Position: 41st of 98
Link to my Blog: [link]

Comments: Freaking hot! Very long exposed sections of road where it is scorching. Got lost for about 5-10 minutes at start/finish after first lap. Very hilly and allot of it is gravel roads. Working on hill training would enable me to slowly run up the hills rather than walking and not fall apart. Not my favorite race and may miss it next year depending on my seasonal goals. Very bad finishing time.

RACE 6 - LIMBERLOST 56KM - July 13 2013
Link:  [link]

Finishing Time: DNF
Lap 1:   1:38:22           Lap 2: 1:58:01            Lap 3: 2:47:04            Lap 4: DNF

Position: DNF
Link to my Blog: [link]

Comments: My most disappointing result of 2013. I DNF'd at this race in 2012, again after 3 laps, and wanted to finish it this time. Something about this course just beats the hell out of me. I can't get into a rhythm with all the twists and turns and the spongy surface which feels lovely to start seems to zap my energy. Hot but nothing like 2012 and flies annoying once you slow. Beautiful course though and most in tree cover.

RACE 7 - DIRTY GIRLS 48 HOUR ULTRA - August 8 2013
Link:  [link]

Finishing Distance: 100 miles 

Position: 10th of 23
Link to my Blog: [link]

Comments: My first 100 miles in timed race. Had almost 14 hours left to continue if I'd wanted but was very happy with this race and the result. 5 mile looped course with a few reasonable hills which add up when you are tired. Mostly covered forest so cooler slightly which suits me. First experience running at night with headlight. Make no mistake, I was exhausted, but felt I could definitely get to 200km or more by pushing it next time now I know what it is like. Weather was excellent. Slept for about 2.5-3.0 hours.

RACE 8 - IROQUOIA TRAIL TEST 34KM - August 17 2013
Link:  [link]

Finishing Time: 3:44:27
Lap 1:   1:10:56           Lap 2: 1:17:39            Lap 3: 1:15:53

Position: 32nd of 80
Link to my Blog: [link]

Comments: Still tired after only 7 days after 100 miler but result was reasonable. Mostly tree covered and nice day if a bit warm - the rugged Canadian shield comes into play here and very technical footing slows me allot. I would do this course again but probably not next year. Having a shorter race start when I was starting lap 2 helped me not give up and try to keep up with some of them for periods and manage a faster 3rd lap which is unusual for me.

RACE 9 - HALIBURTON FOREST 100 MILE - September 7 2013
Link:  [link]

Finishing Time: DNF
Lap 1:   11:55:36           Lap 2: DNF

Position: DNF
Link to my Blog: [link]

Comments: My second DNF of the season and first attempt at 100 mile race rather than timed race. Just didn't have the fitness and tired from the prior races. Found the course tough and was beat up after the first lap. Perfect conditions and beautiful course but definitely not easy. Sulphur Springs easier course to do a first 100 miles.

Link:  [link]

Finishing Distance: 51 miles

Position: 33 of 36
Link to my Blog: [link]

Comments: Expected allot more of myself in this one and quit after 12:5 hours. Very large blister on sole of one foot and really aching feet from track. Went out too quickly and completely ran out of steam. Not happy and know can improve on that. Should have been 80-90 miles. Might do in 2014 depending on what races have planned.

RACE 11 - VULTURE BAIT 50KM - October 19 2013
Link:  [link]

Finishing Time: 5:02:51

Position: 22nd of 56
Link to my Blog: [link]

Comments: Enjoyed this course. Temperature was excellent and enjoyable for first lap but then got rainy and miserable and course got wet. Course suits my running style. Hard packed single track with slight elevation changes and reasonable footing. Very pretty with leaf cover and the lake within site often. Would definitely do this again and would hope on a good day for 4:45.


Summary and Looking to 2014

I did all but one of the 12 OUS races this year (Off-the-Grid) and managed to place 3rd overall male for 40-49 age group with Jack Kilislian taking 2nd and Steven Parke taking first place in our age group. Gino de Carlo won the overall series doing all 12 races and finishing in some very good times.

For my first real foray into ultra running and jumping in with both feet so to speak, I'm reasonably happy with my success. I have weaknesses to be sure and learned some of those lessons the hard way. I tend to go out far too quickly and I may purchase a GPS watch which will give me a better idea of pacing. 

I was having very good training mileage in the winter with 70-90 miles weeks and then my hip started hurting and this caused a big reduction in training and caused problems in the first race badly and then I managed the pain with Voltaren gel after MRI showed that I have mild arthritis there (damn I feel sorry for people with severe arthritis!). 

Running ultras back to back every second or third week really affected my speed and I felt I was in worse shape near the end of the season and pretty beat up. For me personally I tend to require 4-5 days off after a hard race and then do a light 10km run and then a 1/2 marathon which gets me ready for the next ultra but this format does not improve anything. The only solution I can see would be to run fewer races and possibly target a few big ones and to have a much higher level of training going into the season.

My speed is good but I need to be able to maintain it throughout the season and also not blow up and fall apart over the laps. To accomplish this I need to do more long runs during the off-season, doing at least a marathon in training once every week or two weeks and building to 30-40 miles.

The BIG thing I need to work on as well as pacing is hill training. I need to do more outside during the winter and indoors on the treadmill incorporate some solid 5-10 degree running sessions. If I can stay injury free this will help tremendously.

I also intend to do cross training this winter and incorporate cycling, step and weights and core training and stretching. 

I find I always throw up at about the same time in most races - around 4 hours and if it is a longer one of 50 miles or longer would expect to have problems a few times. I've tried salt tablets and Perpetuem this year with not much better success than 2012. I gave up the Endurolyte because I think it was making things worse. I did find that Dulce (seaweed) really helped in Ottawa and will try to get some for next season.

My physiology is much better adapted to cooler running but the season is predominantly during the height of summer. I'll have to try to train outdoors more to get used to this.

I would like to do at least one big US race next year if possible and choose to do some of the OUS races. I have taken a month long rest from running after the last race to rest my hip and try to help the Achilles and heel issues and will start back slowly today. 

I have not yet entered but would like to enter the winter Beast of Burden 100 mile which is mid January in Lockport, USA. I don't know if I'll be ready for it then but it is very close to me. While I say cold weather running is more my forte, I don't think I'll be very effective when I'm exhausted and cold with 40 miles ahead - in a blizzard with a foot of snow under me but I think having a 100 miler to train for will keep me motivated and perhaps be good for the Sulphur Springs 100 miler which will be my next 100 in May.

Thank you for following my races over 2013 and I hope your training goes well wherever in the world you are. Since I started my blog I've had 2,300 hits which is pretty neato. Thank you again and happy running! See you in 2014! ! !


Thursday, October 10, 2013


Here we are. The FINAL 2013 OUS (Ontario Ultra Series) race of the year is 1.5 weeks away. I can't do anything to improve my chances at the race now - all the hard work is done. To be honest I'm finding it a struggle just to keep getting in those regular training runs. Every part of me seems to have niggles - shoes rub where they didn't before - I feel sluggish with no speed that I can sustain - I get winded easily and a 1.5 hour training run which at the beginning of the season felt like a piece of cake now leaves me stiff for a day. It is quite dis-heartening and to be honest I just want to finish this final race and then take a month off just to let things rest. 

I had a poor 24 hour Ottawa result, only getting to 51 miles and calling it quits after 12.5 hours which having seen the results left me 4th from the bottom on that particular race. I was pretty disappointed with that but I guess ultra running has it's ups and downs and you have to regroup and learn from the experience and see what you need to do differently. 

This race is close to London, Ontario and is held at Fanshaw Reservoir where you run 2 loops of a 25km course around the reservoir. There is a good mixture of single track and some road sections but overall, compared to many of the OUS races, it is relatively flat. I have read some bloggers say the course seems fast and that good times can be achieved but I've looked at past years results and checked out runners that I now know and looked at their times and I think this course, based on those times, is not a walk in the park. I am looking forward to it as it is another new course for me. It's a civilized 9am start and at this time of year conditions will be cooler which for me I appreciate.

My goal at this race is to take it easy. I am going to TRY to contain myself and not go out fast because I know, based on how I feel, that I'll last for about 1.5 hours and then be walking which really isn't the goal. I'd rather go slower and feel good and have energy for a faster second lap and be passing people than loose it all within the first 15km. 

I did a quick calculation of my total mileage racing this year and was quite shocked. Assuming I complete Vulture Bait I'll have raced 457 miles this season! Holy crappola. Before I started ultras I'd run 5 marathons in about 5 years with of course 1/2 marathons and 10km races each year but what a leap - no wonder I'm feeling knackered! That's about 17 marathons in one season. My goal when I started the season was to complete 8 ultras to hopefully get the Norm Patenaude Award and in doing so get a good feeling for the cross section of ultras available in Ontario. 

I have definitely had some varied races and met some incredibly talented runners along the way. The ultra running community is smaller but there is a definite bond there. The race organizers are passionate about their sport and are always looking at ways to make the races better and they always have such wonderful support. I am grateful for all the people I met and those behind the scenes also. 

At the end of the day this is a sport and is about competition as well. Often it is a personal competition - a goal of finishing an arduous course or setting a PB. Some people are out to do as well as they can but have no expectations of placing or finishing highly and might be out there to enjoy a good long training run with friends and fellow runners. I know there are a number of races this season where I have felt out of sorts and have just plugged away with a goal of finishing, and others where I wanted to push things hard and see how I did against others, those who I would classify as decent to good club runners. I'm never going to be a top notch runner, winning trophies and scooping up the winnings, but I enjoy the competitive spirit and feel that I can improve still and I get a great deal of satisfaction from cheering on others out there, helping to motivate or sharing in the experience. Ultra running brings a unique set of challenges and I have learned allot this season and hopefully can use some of that knowledge over the training throughout the winter and come back stronger and energized.

After the first several races of the season I started paying more attention to the 'leader board' and began to analyze other runners and see who was signing up and I got a bit carried away with doing as well as I could and maybe even placing by the end of the season. It was good fun to wait for the race results to be posted and look down the list of where I was, who did better or worse and remember the particular race in more detail. 

By about 1/2 way through I had a much better idea of who the big hitters were and who was right around my ability and that was cool. With one race to go I'm currently in line for a 3rd place finish in my age group of 40-49 if I'm reading the stats correctly. I won't place in the top 5 men overall for the series this year but I have had fun seeing them vie for the positions. Now, I'm not saying I'm the 3rd best ultra running dude 40-49 in Ontario! Wouldn't that be cool. There are guys out there who are WAY faster than me but this series requires dedication to enter up to 12 races - all the costs associated with that as well. There are many runners further down the list who could kick my butt on any particular day but perhaps only entered 4 of the races, or 1. I just wanted to give it my best shot and if I get an award to remember my first true foray into ultra running I would be well chuffed. 

Pre Race Predictions

Honestly, I feel unprepared. My training runs are never pretty these days and I often have to drag my ass outside. I make a point of going out on Sunday with the St. Catharines runners wherever they meet up to get in a 1.5 hour trail run but I only have a bout 2-3 more runs before the race. As I mentioned earlier I'm not really that bothered about racing this one as finishing in a decent time and not feeling like road kill. With that in mind I would say a 5 hour 30 minute time and if it goes well 5 hours 15. 

Oh well, watch this space! Happy running to all of you.

Post Race Report

Welcome back. Thanks for taking the time to see how I did - or maybe you just want to know more about the course. That is fine also. Always glad to inform those that may be considering a particular race.

The forecast the day before the race was for London, Ontario to be 10-12 degrees which is comfortable for me, but with periodic rain. The weatherman got the temperature right but the periodic rain - not so much. It started spitting/raining from about 1/2 way through the first 25km loop around Fanshaw Lake and as I began the second it became constant downpour. As I proceeded into the second lap the trails became a wet, muddy mess. The leaves of varying hues also mesmerized your eyes over time. You are constantly looking at the trails, what is ahead or what you are about to step on. I don't know if it is the effect of wearing contacts but over many many hours I was getting light-headed sometimes, even tingly, and I think it was a combination of being tired, wet and cold with the strain of vision.

The Course

The course. What can I say. This is MY KIND OF COURSE! Of all the OUS races I did this year, I think Sulphur Springs and Vulture Bait are the two that suit my current running abilities best. I think I liked this course the best overall. It has some lovely single track trail. Much of it is run through wooded areas around the lake and a number of times you can see Fanshaw Lake below you. It is very pretty and at this time of the year with the Fall colours it is stunning.

The trails are mostly hard packed dirt and elevation change is pretty negligible. There is one incline as you climb the gravel road to the dam top, but It certainly does not have any of the hard-core hills of some of the other races. There are lovely sections where you are changing directions constantly through the woods and others which are just a constant groove of single track. 

It is difficult to pass others, as Steven Parke found out. Within the first 4-5km of the race I heard him behind me calling out he was passing Jack Kilislian but there was some mis-communication and Steven turned his ankle badly which affected his entire race and where he normally would have killed the race and beat me soundly, I was able to keep ahead of him to the end. I saw him at the end of the race and if it had not been for the goal of getting his Norm Patenaude Award (completing 8-12 of the OUS races), he would have called it quits where it happened. If you are doing this race be aware of the narrowness of the trails and yes, there are quite a lot of roots which because of the leaves makes footing tricky sometimes. Certainly I saw a number of mud-spattered shirts where people took spills.

I think any cross-country runner would love this course. I hope you will give it a try next year. There is a 25km and a 50km option so if you are new to trails I can't recommend this one enough. It's a good challenge but will leave you wanting more. It was fun as you got close to the end of the first loop and those who you are approaching/passing get really concerned and try to pick up the pace. You can tell they are doing the 25km course and don't want to loose any more places. I told one guy not to worry, I was doing 50km, and he visibly relaxed. As we came into the finishing straight, 25km runners were directed over the timing mat while 50km runners were directed to the other side of the building. I saw my guy in the finishing chute and told him to race it to the finish - "GO GO GO GO", I shouted at him. I'm sure he was thinking I was a crazy idiot and deserved to do the damn thing again!

Going back to the morning of the race, I left the house early and it was a fairly uneventful drive along the 403 to the 401 and then North. The only confusion came upon getting through the park entrance and going across the dam. I didn't realize how big this park is and there are huge areas with camping trailers and being dark still I really had no idea where I was going. Another car must have figured I knew where I was going and when I finally reached a dead end he pulled up beside me and it turns out he was a runner also so we turned around and at a main road I saw a small sign for the race and off we went again. Eventually we got to the place and there were a few cars parked outside the main gate and I made my way into the big building which was race HQ and there were volunteers milling about getting things prepared.

Milling about after collecting your race pack - with backs to you on left are Ron Gehl (always wears that wacky hat) and Karin McMillan in the pink socks who won the overall OUS series for women

Additional runners getting their kit at race HQ

Out this door on left is the finish timing mat. After we got back the tables were filled with a delicious assortment of food for cold, wet, hungry runners

I picked up my bib and the goody bag which contained a nice purple race T-shirt, a tube of travel toothpaste and a toothbrush, a Hammer Gel, some gum and I think it is dental floss. What are they trying to say about ultra runners? I saw a few familiar faces and we'd shake hands or say hello. They had about 8 port-a-potty's outside but I headed back to the car with about an hour to spare and shoved the driver seat forward, climbed in the back and started preparing my kit.

It was not raining at this point and it was just a cool, fresh morning but lovely for running, at least for me. Some people love hot weather running, but I'm not one of them and I think if all my races this summer had been on a day like yesterday, I would have done better overall. But this is Canada and the summer does get hot and we all have to face the same conditions and if you train in those conditions you will always be better prepared. 

For the race I went with my Injinji socks and heavier Asics trail shoes which have more cushioning. I think it was a good choice as my feet have no blisters and are unscathed. I wore my skimpy shorts and my usual black tight-fitting Under Armour short-sleeve shirt. Others were more bundled but that is a common mistake people make. You feel cold standing around of course, but you warm-up in no time and then you'll wish you were not wearing that heavy jacket and long-pants and gloves and hat. If it pours rain you are not going to stay dry anyway and are probably going to be more uncomfortable than if you wore something lighter. Anyway, that's my opinion. 

I rubbed some Body Glide on the bottom of my feet also, applied on my thighs and I was good to go. I was wearing my belt with two bottles, one with Hammer Gel and one with Perpetuem/water mix. I also took my hand-held just containing water. My belt bag I took one Advil and 3-4 salt tablets. About 15 minutes to the start I applied Voltaren Gel on the right hip and popped an Advil. I took the photo of my good luck charm and made my way back to the building which by now was a-buzz with activity. More hello's and hugs were exchanged, introductions made and the anticipation built. I'd seen some guys running back and fourth outside and pegged them for the fast 25km racers. I do no warm-up at these races. I figure start slow(ish) and get warmed up that way. The race director was telling us there was about 4 minutes to the start and we better start making our way outside so we slowly trailed out through the doors at the back which took us to a steep hill which we took in single file down to a wider area of grass with the lake on our left. 

Yup - my good luck charm - no photo of me today - I look crap and by now I'm sure you know my ugly mug!

Well-wishers stayed at the top of the hill and waved, took photos and cheered on their loved ones and everybody made their way to where they were comfortable in the line-up. I like to see this for some reason. I like to look forward and back and see the anticipation and nervous energy. I like to see people greeting one another and wishing one-another well. I am happy that I've gotten to know some of the people that run these races, some that have been doing the series for years and years (Ron, Gord, Hans, etc.). I started within the first 1/3 of runners and happened to be standing with the Boultbee sisters, April and Melanie. I had not seen them at a race since the Run for the Toad in 2012 in October. I find them to be excellent pacers and while they beat me then, they do help me along, keeping me in check and I stay with them as long as I can.

The race Director had a megaphone but it didn't seem to be working and I only heard 5-4-3-2-1, GO. And then we were off, a slow, steady stream of people jogging slowly, trying to get some leg room. We made our way along the lake and the hill to our right and then climbed up. 

We were then into some single track, nothing difficult, and my intention was just to stay relaxed and enjoy, not get carried away. I know by staying with the Boultbee's that if I did stay with them it was going to be a race, not a walk in the park. Melanie was only doing the 25km because of a Hamstring pull she suffered earlier in the year which had sidelined her and April had only done one 15km run in 3 weeks so her goal was 50km but really just to see how far she could do. I think both of the are going to take the winter to get back to full strength and come back next year and do some OUS races, but also take on some big 100 mile challenges like Eastern States. Even not up to full strength these ladies are excellent runners and know how to dig deep. They were both wearing bright green tops and matching socks and hats. Oh yes, I also wore a visor ed hat which was useful when the rain made an appearance.

There are about 3-4 road sections that I recall. The first one comes up fairly quickly and is the dam we drove across when we entered the park. You follow it on the left hand side and then go a bit further past a parking lot and cut back into the woods. Oh, I love the woods. There were sections with pine needles and the scent that day was so fresh and clean and 'woodsy'. I love it. 

The second road section is a bit mind-numbing but it's all flat. You come into an aid station and then carry on and a sharp right takes you to more road and it's arrow straight. You go about 1/2km down here and then again veer back into the woods. That road section demoralised me the second time around. After that you have I think the longest road section where you come out of the woods and follow a road down to a major 2 lane highway where you turn left. There is no real verge and the traffic can come pretty close and there is a hill ahead of you. You see the lake fully to your left and I think this is the part that is the very top of the course. You get part way up the hill on the road and then back in the forest. 

I think it is just after you go back into the forest after the road section where you get the only water soaking on the course as you cross a river. You can't avoid it. It's very cold and rocky so be careful but it's easy to get across and after 4-5 submerged steps you are on the other bank, climb up on the right and then you follow the lake all the way back through the forest another 4-5km to the start. I didn't have any blister problems with the combination of shoes/socks I wore but this could be a factor for some. You might want to change your socks if you are doing 2 laps of this course, after you get back from the first loop. See how it goes but if you feel chaffing after your soaking I recommend you deal with blisters before they become a problem and 2 minutes to change out shoes and socks isn't a big deal.

The first lap was mostly spent with April and Melanie. We just stayed together and we did pass quite a number of people. The twins don't talk during the race but will answer if you talk to them. Occasionally they will say something to one another about time/pace etc. but I was comfortable for the moment. I could hear Jack behind me and then he came by and it was probably just after 1/2 way as we were going down a fairly steep, rocky section that one of the sisters said I should go by and I did and that was the last I saw of them until I got back into the building after finishing. Melanie finished her 25km and April decided to stop with her.

Once I was on my own I tried to take it easy. Earlier I'd run passed Kimberly van Delst (she came second overall woman for OUS series this year. Well done!) and Karin MacMillan (placed first woman in the OUS series this year! Awesome job to both you and Gino) and Karin mentioned that she likes to sing and told me that if she can't sing 4-5 words without taking a breath than it is too hard an effort. I thought that was a good idea but would never sing but being able to maintain a comfortable talking effort is what they recommend you do on a long training run or your effort level is too high and you won't be able to sustain it.

I like running alone in the woods in a race but I also hate it! I am always worried that someone is going to come by, how far away is that person behind me, etc. Sometimes I'd catch a glimpse of a runner ahead and that would be my motivation, to slowly narrow the gap and run with them for awhile, and then pass them. This happened a number of times. One guy I stayed with for awhile. I think his name was Roger and he had bright orange shorts on. He stopped to use the toilet at an aid station and I lost him for about 5km before he passed me again. Another guy was walking at the time but obviously got a second wind as he later caught up and passed me on one of my walking breaks.

By the time it started pouring rain and I was about 1/2 through the second lap my energy was flagging big time. I threw up after about 3 hours 45 minutes and had close calls a few other times but I knew, for me, that it is not unusual, but it is unpleasant. I took another salt pill and Advil and was doing OK keeping up with the water, gel and Perpeteum. Funnily enough, on this race, I was using the thought of the finishing buffet to help motivate me and also telling myself I didn't have to see this section again. Every time things got bad I'd concentrate on being warm, eating and it would help stave off the dejection. That isn't to say I didn't walk because I did but there was never a death march. I would walk maybe for a minute and then trudge on again, my feet smacking in the puddles or getting squidgy in the mud. There were only 2-3 really muddy sections which had the tell-tail signs of other runners who definitely looked like they had close calls if the skid marks were anything to go by.

I was cold by now as I'd mentioned earlier and felt numb with cold in the hands and could feel some chaffing in the thighs but they were red and cold also so I didn't feel much there. Sometimes I'd feel some foot soreness but I was not concerned, knowing I only had a few more km to go. I did walk quite a bit and eventually people started passing me. Karin came by, then Roger in the brights shorts plus about 3 others that I didn't know. In the final km a tall woman came past who I recalled passing when I was with the Boultbee sisters on the first lap. I didn't know her name but I was able to hold onto the sight of her until we climbed the final hill and crossed the grass past the finishing mat so I think she won by 25 seconds. I was happy. By that point I was glad it was over and actually quite chuffed with the time although a sub 5 hour would have been awesome.

There was no timing mat for the first lap but I think I made it on my watch that the first lap took 2 hours 20 minutes. The finishing time I believe the timing clock said 5 hours 3 minutes 38 seconds. I was happy with that. The results are not out yet but I will guess I placed about 35th? I'll be curious now to see. If I'd not fallen apart so badly on the second half I think I could have been 15 minutes faster. I really need to work on my endurance because the course is very runnable.

The official results are now out. I took 5:02:51 and placed 22nd of 107 entrants and 76 finishers.

It was just pouring rain now and I felt sorry for the volunteers. It felt much warmer inside out of the wind and rain and I was soaked. I spotted the Boultbee sisters at a picnic bench and went and joined them. They were all cleaned up and dry in warm clothes and I was starving, spotted the food and immediately went and helped myself to a delicious buffet. There were meatballs, several pasta choices, some mac and cheese, a bun, caesar salad and another salad and about 4 choices of desert with Sprite, Coke and Ginger Ale. There was also tea/coffee and two choices of soup which was lovely as it warmed me a bit. I sat back down and began chowing down, listening to how everybody else fared, learning about others, etc. 

Eating helped but sitting did not and I began visibly shaking and could not even take the cap off a water bottle so I took my leave and walked out in the downpour to the car with my medal jangling proudly around my neck. I jumped in the car, put a towel down on the seat, turned on the engine and cranked up the heat. The changing process was very slow and I swear one shoelace took more I.Q. and brute strength than I had at the time but eventually my slow mind and numb fingers worked it out in true Simian fashion.

I actually began to feel warm and in clean, dry, layered clothing felt allot better. I then made my way back to the festivities and was disappointed to see Gino and Karin leaving with their trophies and plaques. They had family commitments (a parents 50th wedding anniversary celebrations) and had to leave but at least I got to see them and shake their hands and tell them what a pleasure it was running with them through the season). There were 2 large brick fireplaces at each end of the hall and I WISH they would have lit them. I think it would have made the place feel far more warm and comfortable. Maybe I'll pass on the suggestion. I'm sure even if it had not been raining, runners would have appreciated the heat after their exertions. 

I was able to say hello to a number of runners that I already knew and a few that I met properly for the first time but had seen at previous races. I saw Marylou who did a crazy 197km at Ottawa! Wow. Tiny lady but what a runner! Some of the familiar faces I don't know if they came ahead of me or me them. It is a race but it is also a personal challenge and for me, wherever I placed, I was happy with my time. I worked hard and did learn more about my strengths and weaknesses and I take joy in everybody's performance.

Every so often someone would come through the door looking like a drowned rat. Having now sat for over an hour and a half I had to think, what would I have felt like being out there for another 1.5 hours. Allot colder and allot hungrier! I imagined that's what I looked like to the people that were settled as I walked through the door. Some people got claps when others knew them. You really should take up ultra running! These people are so friendly.

Some of the other runners that won awards in the OUS series also had to leave and things were thinning out and still no awards presentation was happening. Eventually it did happen and I was able to maintain my 3rd place ranking in my age group overall and got a nice plaque for it and for the Norm Patenaude Award. With it came a blanket, I think, although I can't find the damn thing now but I'm pretty sure that's what it was, embossed with the OUS series decal.

Kimberley van Delst (Kim) came second overall for women in the Ultra Series and won the 50km Series. She's a very dedicated runner, a friend, and a very positive person. Your husband and kids will be very proud. 
Cameron Lutley came first in my 40-49 age group for the OUS series and 5th in the overall series. After putting away plates of food I"m surprised he was even able to stand to collect his plaque!
Maryka Hladki came first in her age group female 40 below for the OUS series. I have only just begun to know Maryka - she is friendly and very dedicated. Her strength is in the longer races and she can just keep going and going. Well done on a great season.
I have seen Kiriam Thompson at many of the races but only got introduced to her after this race. She has a lovely smile. Kiriam came 4th female in the overall OUS series and second place female under 40.
On the left is Steven Parke. I've looked at his results and he has steadily improved over the years and this year was fantastic for him. He came first male in my age group of 40-49. He twisted his ankle very badly on this race and it was black and blue. And of course the other happy chappie is me, Alex, who placed 3rd male in the 40-49 age group
Another one of me with my warm blanket. I could have used that out on the course today!
And how could I forget Ron Gehl - he's been on the ultra scene for ages and has introduced many runners to the sport who have excelled. This year Ron came 3rd overall in the OUS series and second in the over 50 category. He's passionate about his running, has alot of stories and just goes and goes and goes! And let's not forget all the straws he now needs! I'll leave it at that.

Just a few of the OUS series winners hanging out together - Ron, myself, Kimberley, Cameron and Maryka. 

Out came the cameras and either individually or in groups we had some photos taken and then it was almost 4pm and time to get a move on. We all began to leave and that is about it. The drive home was in pouring rain and I got into the house, had a VERY long and hot shower, had a bit of dinner, watched about 30 minutes of TV and at 8:30pm off I went to bed to wake at 10am the next day! I'm stiff but content and now I can have some recovery.

I hope my blogs will inspire just one person to try an ultra, whether you are just getting into running or have been running road races for years. Try something different. I made the transition and love it. It's a completely different experience and the people that participate, organize and volunteer at these races are amazing. Go to the website and find a race that peaks your interest. Read my blogs and other blogs to see what you may face and sign up! You won't regret it.

Over the next few days I'll summarize my races and post photos of this race. Thank you for stopping by. Happy running!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Hi everybody.

Welcome back. My last race is now almost 3 weeks behind me with the next one only 3 days away. I mentioned after my failed 100 mile effort at Haliburton Forest (completing 50 miles) that I was not totally bummed. I mean, it's never pleasant not finishing something you started and maybe I gave up where others would have continued but I'm still new to ultra running and learning not no quit when you feel down is something you hopefully pick up along the way through experience. I was really pleased to see many of you out there and encourage you in your races and that is always a really nice thing. I appreciated everybody's encouragement out there.

This next race is put on by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team. They have been organizing ultra events for many years all over the world. They seem to choose small circuits to run crazy timed courses - 6, 12, 24 hours and the big New York 3,100 mile race you have to finish in 52 days (just to let you know that means you have to run 62 miles a day just to finish in the allotted time!). You run around a square block of Queens. I did one of their 6 hour races in Kingston early this year which was quite an interesting experience.

It is quite different running a certain number of hours rather than a specific distance. A set distance in a certain time may put off those that are concerned about finishing due to the difficulty of the course - terrain, elevation  etc.

I think the two biggest reasons why more people don't participate in this type of timed race is one, because of the very short laps these events are traditionally run on; from 1km loops or in the case of this particular race, a 400 meter indoor track in Ottawa. Not everybody can get their heads around the tedium and monotony of seeing the same people and same things over and over again. The other reason would be for the length of time we are talking about. In a marathon I'd say the majority of runners are done between 3-5 hours but the minimum time for these events seems to be 6 hours and going for 24 hours in my race. If you run 100 mile races you can fathom 24 hours but if you are just getting into ultras the thought of running for 24 hours scares the pants off people.

I did the Kingston 6 hour race to get an idea of what that tedium might feel like and yes, at times it got a bit mind numbing, but seeing all your competitors over and over was actually quite inspiring and nice I thought. You got to gauge how you were doing based on how often you passed others or they passed you, and you got encouragement from the people around you. You had the aid station they provide always available and didn't need to carry water bottles or wear belts with your gels, salts, etc. You could sit down and relax and get up and get on your way when you are ready. Most people will set up makeshift camps around the track. Tents are allowed but not obviously to be staked down. I'll have my aid station available every 400 meters.

The race starts at 8am for the 24 hour race and traditionally you arrive early to meet your personalized timer. The members of the cult are each responsible for a small number of runners and count you after each lap so you have to get introduced before the start. Also, you wear your name rather than a numbered bib so again, it feels very personal. You make sure as you go around that you catch the eye of your counter. At Kingston, my counter used to say 'Got you Alex'. 

There is a leader board which will be updated once you get some miles under you and the top 7 men and women are continuously updated over the day and night. You can ask your counter any time what your distance is in case you are not in the top and are wondering how far you've done.

Ottawa for me is a good 5+ hour drive so I'm not looking forward to that - and even less so 24 hours later. I'll leave 10am and arrive approx. 3-4pm. We have a pre-race dinner at 6pm and you can camp outside the facility and set up your tent/food/aid etc. inside but you can't sleep inside the dome. After 9pm they close it and you can get back in at 6am. My intention is to set up my stuff minus my tent inside the dome, and set my tent up outside. It will be getting cooler at night no doubt but I think I have enough protection and generally I sleep better if it's colder anyway. I'll have dinner and greet friends and I believe there is someone there doing a research project who wanted to talk to me and some others about how we got into ultra running, etc. so I'll be curious what types of questions he asks and what other people's stories are.

I'm supposed to meet the race Director of Hali at the pre-race dinner to collect my 2 drop bags I was not able to get at Hali. I really hope that works out because my race shoes are in there! Helen is doing the 6 hour race.

The plan is to go get some groceries and things on Thursday and get the car packed and ready. I won't need as much stuff and it should be easier to organize now I'm using crates and zip-lock bags. I just keep all my stuff in these now and it means I just can grab them and go.

I have never run on a track/artificial surface so I'm most curious about this aspect. I'm slightly worried it will be slightly 'bouncy' which over a long time could suck my energy like what I think happened at Limberlost with the soft spongy undergrowth. At least I have no concerns about running in the dark or tripping over roots or dealing with the elements or monster hills. It will be a completely controlled environment, probably around 18 degrees. For those of you that are thinking, do we run around in the same direction for 24 hours? No, we don't. They are turning us around after each 6 hour segment so we don't get fatigued/injured due to the continuous left hand or right hand turns. Track etiquette dictates that slower runners stay further out and let the faster runners lap you to the inside - you can be disqualified for not following this rule.

Prior to the start we line up and have a minute's silence and then there is a very informal, GO, and we all start. I believe there are about 30 or so 24-hour runners entered with another 20 or so doing either the 6 or 12 hour races. There are washroom facilities and you are expected to leave and enter the track at the same place. If you are going to sleep or rest for an extended time it is considered good practice and polite to let your counter know this.

Pre-Race Predictions

It's a good question. Honestly, I'm getting tired... I can feel it's been a long season. I've upped my racing and mileage hugely since last year but I've enjoyed myself. I rested for almost a week after Hali and the heel and hip have bothered me on each practise run. I'm now not limping at least but I know the right heel is going to cause problems on Saturday. It feels like somehow the pad of the foot feels like it's lost compression and gets very tender so I may consider heel inserts. The hip I'm going to gel up before the start and take an Advil right at the start and hope I have no further problems throughout. I've had a few good runs and a few terrible ones where I felt all my fitness was gone so I really don't know where I stand these days. I won't have run a single mile in the last week. I just couldn't get motivated. 

Let's look at some times/distances/past races to get an idea what I might be able to accomplish:

Haliburton Forest - hard course - 50 miles - 12 hours
Dirty Girls - hard course - 100 miles - 33.5 hours (2.5 hour sleep) so 31 hours
Kingston - 6 hour timed - 1km easy looped course - 39 miles
Sulphur Springs - medium course - 50 miles - 9 hours

So what can I realistically expect on this course? If you look at Kingston I should be able to do 120 miles easily. Not going to happen. Look at Sulphur and again I should be able to do over 100 without much problem. 

I'll tell you that I'm aiming for 100 miles. I think that is realistic and achievable. If I can get over 110 I'd be really really pleased but I think it will be somewhere between the two so that's my 'guess'.

Well, that's all I have for you now. I'll have my post-race blog up as soon as possible. It will go something like "I ran the first 400 meter lap. . . and then I did it again another 400 times!" THE END.

Wish me luck and good luck to all of you - thanks for visiting again.


I may have to stop these pre-race predictions. They kind of have a habit of coming back and biting me in the ass. What did I say? 100 miles? Try again Alex. All I can say is I'm glad it was not a 100 mile race or I'd be facing my second 100 mile DNF this year. I'm afraid I only managed 52 miles (good for fourth last place). I managed 50 miles in the same time as the Hali race, in 11 hours 56 minutes and was intending on quitting at that point but we were just about to do the turn-around on the track and I didn't want to inform my lap counter when it gets confusing out there so I trudged on for another 2 miles. Trudged? Actually, scratch that. I was not trudging, I was walking. I walked for so many laps I lost track. The thought of walking 11.5 more hours with an occasional burst of blistering 4 miles an hour just kind of deflated me. 

How do I feel about my race. For myself I'm frustrated on this one; more so than Hali. I mean what excuse can you have on a completely flat surface? How could I run 50 miles in exactly the same time as I did on a hilly, hard course? It sounds like a no-brainer - flat surface, indoor, controlled environment - of course I'd be faster. . . 208 laps around a 400 meter track. I remember saying earlier that I was concerned about the track being spongy. No worries there. It may not feel like concrete but it's pretty damn hard. My usual problems surfaced with the right heel pad, feeling like somebody pounding on me. The Achilles tendons gave me grief, my hip gave me grief, my shoes gave me grief and my damn watch decided to stop working on the trip up and didn't give me any grief at all!

This race was a total unmitigated disaster for me. I did, however, get to see poetry in motion! I was privileged, as was every other runner there, to witness an American 100 mile record get shattered. Jon Olsen was the first American to run 100 miles under 12 hours - in 11 hours 59 minutes. His first 50 miles was in 5:58 and the second in 6:01. I think someone wrote that he ran 7:11 minutes/mile for 100 miles. Let me just say that there were 2 races going on. His race any everybody else's. He was at a completely different level of running than the second or third fastest person there. Even when we were all fresh he was lapping us in perhaps every 2-3 laps. When I got tired and began walking almost every lap he was coming by me. He is tall and lean and he runs so lightly it's more like he's springing. I know it's a bullshit expression to say he made it look effortless because I'm sure if you asked him he'd say he was in pain, but truly as he zipped by he looked like he could have carried on at that pace indefinitely. I shook his hand after and told him how inspiring he was and he asked about my race and he was very humble. I liked him. He flew in from California. It was really amazing to be able to watch someone of his caliber over the entirety of a race rather than in a big city marathon where you might watch the lead runners fly by and that's it. His wife was there helping/supporting him all the way. She was handing him whatever he needed and had to be on her toes - he flew by so quick there is a real knack to handing off liquids or foods without spilling or it flying out of her hands. You can read his blog report here. [BLOG]

We were informed by the race director about the inside track rule, and that it was meant for fast runners and to keep it clear and if someone calls out 'track' it means for you to get out of the way. Most runners were good about this but there were 2-3 runners, not fast, who I constantly saw hogging the inside lane. It annoyed me to think of Jon who constantly had to call out 'track'. Some moron made some stupid comment (he was one of the lane hogs) that the straight-away is a place where you can run wherever you like. 

Well, let me start at the beginning. . .

I left the house at 9:45am on Friday and it was a perfect day, sunny and warm. I had a fairly restful sleep and set the odometer and set my wrist watch and off I went. Within 10 minutes my watch starts beeping at me and driving I couldn't really deal with it so pushed a number of buttons but it kept making beeping noises. Finally I got a look and it informed me of a sensor problem so I opened the glove compartment and chucked it in there, hearing the occasional muffled BEEEP over the next 9 hours. Not an auspicious start. 

Did I just say 9 hours! From my house to Ottawa should take about 5 - 5.5 hours and it was all going swimmingly until Brockville.  At Brockville the roadside signs cheerfully told us that the East bound 401 was closed at Brockville. I don't have a GPS and I am not familiar with the roads in that part of Ontario and while the traffic was steady, it was not bumper to bumper so I figured they would have an alternate route bypassing that section of the 401 and we'd be underway in no time. WRONGGGGGGGGG. By the end of that fiasco I was completely stressed and pissed off. You know what it's like in a traffic jam. The end will be just over the next rise - the traffic will begin to flow again, anything ! ! ! So eventually, after about 2 hours of perhaps getting 5 miles along, I got the opportunity to take a left hand turn. I was trying to get north and east to hit Highway 416 which takes you straight into Ottawa. So myself and the car behind me take the gamble and off we go and things are going well and we get to a right hand turn a few miles further up and I decide to take it, hoping it will be a country lane which will keep me going east until I can hit the 416. After about 2 miles we hit another traffic jam and it is slow again but at least moving. I get to a 'major' intersection and am faced with heading South from where I came (DON'T DO IT!), an East which has traffic and is slow (DON'T DO IT!), a North, which is flowing well and hell, I need to get moving North and if I stand still another moment I'm going to experience a melt-down, so North it is.

Off I toodle-loo and begin my trek North and I pull onto the hard shoulder just to see on my big map where I might be and it appears this road will take me to Smiths Falls which will eventually get me to Ottawa. Thank goodness! I get to the Dome at 6:15PM. I was a very unhappy and sore and stiff bunny and I made my way inside to get my first sight of the dome. Some people were already there chowing down on the dinner and I saw Cameron Lutley but I just wanted to sit down and eat so apologies if I sounded a bit dismissive. Cameron is a really nice guy and a very good runner. He won the Kingston 6 hour race. I sat down next to Helen Malmburg and fortunately she had my two crates with my drop bags from Hali which was a relief considering how the trip was going so far. I had some vegetarian lasagna and some salad ingredients and a drink but the real treat was the rhubarb crumble. Whoever made that I thank you! Yum.

Various tents and tables/chairs/coolers with all the gear we ultra runners need.

Straight-away leading to the counter table. In the middle was a full size soccer pitch

Drinks table with a choice of water, coke, ginger ale or some weird honey kind of drink
I had a good chin-wag with the people around me and after the meal I began bringing in my crates and stuff into the track and set up. We seemed to have a limited amount of room so it got busy with people's tables and chairs and tents and even more so the next morning when people continued trying to cram their things between everybody else that was already there. I was not too impressed the next morning when one couple suggested they move me and the person on my right so they could fit their 8 foot table in! I think they got the hint from my furled eyebrows and moved on. 

I set up my tent outside right in front of my car beside a building and about 100 feet from the Dome entrance. At the time I didn't notice I had set it up directly beneath a light pole so I slept bathed in light. Oh well. It was cool but not uncomfortable and I actually prefer it being cooler. When I went to bed at about 9:30pm there were no other tents outside. Unfortunately you were not allowed to sleep inside the dome. Some people had set their tents up to use it as a place to crash or chill out over the course of the race. Some people had brought their spouses or children so over 24 hours this would be a great place to rest for them.

The following morning I got up at 5:30am, ate a banana and got out of my tent which was now covered in dew. I saw one other tent set up and of course Gino and Karin's palatial motor-home. I can't say I had a brilliant sleep. I could hear the constant hum of generators meant for keeping the dome inflated and also felt the ground beneath me vibrating. I don't know what that was from but it stopped at around 12:00pm. 

I left the tent standing and figured I'd use it to sleep in after the 24 hours were up. After dinner I blew up a second air mattress and hauled it inside the dome. It was my first time in one and I didn't realize it is pressurized. There were two entrances inside at each corner and there were revolving doors like at some airports. Adjacent to those swinging doors was another door for bringing in larger items. You were supposed to have someone open the second door on the other side, then close the door  and then they open the door on your side. I got my air mattress inside and went to push the other door but the first door was not closed yet and there was a huge WHOOSH of air like being in a wind tunnel. Ooops. 

I had almost all my items inside from the previous night and just took one crate inside and set up my gels and various things I'd need. I ate my cereal and relaxed, waiting for the chance to pick up my bib and meet my counter. We were due to do this 15 minutes before the start. Of course I'd had a chance by then to see Gino and Karin, Kimberley and Richard Takata who had driven up together. Also Cameron Lutley and Patrick Campbell and Helen and of course Ron Gehl and his wife Barbara. The night before I met Hans Maier, a 75 year old who is very sprightly and has a sparking mischievous gleam in his eyes. His Nephew I think it was who I believe was called Erik was doing the 6 hour race on his own. Erik was 16! He had done the 6-hour relay in Kingston earlier in the year. Kudos to you and keep it up! 

Gino and Karin - nice people and really good runners.
Both are going to win his/hers for the overall OUS standings!

Hans Maier - 75 years young!

To infinity - and beyond!  Dude - get a bloody hair cut - and tuck your ass back in those skimpy shorts! And there is Kim - one lady on the course thought we were brother and sister.

Another nice guy - Richard Takata

My table and chair and air mattress behind

One 'tackle box'of goodies owned by Richard Takata! Between his crates and Kimberley's - they need a bigger van I think! Still, better organised than my zip-lock bags and very handy. 

As I was waiting for the start, this tall guy set up his chair and items next to me and his name was Charles. He was friendly but seemed a bit awkward but we had a nice talk and his thing was road running and he'd done this track race a few years in a row. He and his wife were staying with in-laws in Ottawa and his wife didn't really have any interest in his running which is a shame. Unfortunately Charles had a bad day and pulled out about 2-3 hours before I called it a day but I wished him well.

I moseyed over to the tables and got my bib which was kind of awkward. There were two bibs, both large - one had your name in a particular color which was useful for the lap counters to identify their particular runners - and taped beneath that was your running number. I believe there was a 'back-up' of other counters along the track inputting your laps on a computer but I could be wrong. The bib was awkward to put on and I believe some people had wanted to switch over to chip timing. It's a hard call. It really is a lovely race and what partially makes it special is the personal attention of the race director, the cult members and the counters who help and support you. This year I think was their biggest entry field so far and I think it's possible some laps may have been missed for some runners. I believe there might have been a discrepancy with mine on a few laps so they were having to double check with the computer people versus the lap counter. It didn't make much difference to me in the end as I pulled out early but I'd be pissed if I'd run further and not been credited for my laps so I don't know the solution as the race gets more popular. It is very difficult for the counters when a slew of runners come by in the early laps and we are all running relatively quickly. 

My counter was Prataya and then two others took over during the 12 hours I ran. See the bibs and counting cards they used
Various runners getting their bibs and meeting their counters - the guy on the right is Jon who beat the American 100 mile track record in 11 hours 58 minutes!

My good luck charm with mega sized bib

The race director was standing on the other side of the track from the counters and was yelling out our names to the counters. I think he must have been hoarse by the end - but he was instrumental to helping us and the counters over the time when runners were more bunched together. It was very frustrating when SOME runners would stop at the tables and have conversations with their counters, blocking their view and making it difficult to know if you'd been seen. A few times I had to really wave and was unsure if I had been counted.  I always made a point of waiting to ask any questions when we were spread out and I didn't go right up to the table so they still had good visibility. They changed places over the course of the race as people needed bathroom breaks or perhaps after 6 hour stints. Some counters were better than others. One guy was excellent in my opinion and I really knew he had marked me and that he'd seen me. One other seemed like she was almost looking through you and it was not registering and I had to wave and try to get her to make eye contact. She got better later on but I had doubts initially.  Saying that, they were all excellent and it is a huge commitment they make. It's an ultra event for them also. They don't only tick you off on the sheet but once things spread out are supposed to input your time for that particular lap so it takes allot of mental agility over the hours.

The race director had us line up and some photos were taken but it was not organised this time so that everybody could be seen. There were just too many of us. A few moments before the start we all got silent and reflected on the journey we were about to face and the counter informed us he was ready and the director counted down 5,4,3,2,1, GO . . .

Obviously I can't remember, nor would you want to hear, about my 208 laps so I can only highlight the, well, er, highlights!

Highs and Lows

We all started off at what felt like a comfortable pace but I did know within the first 30 laps or so that we had picked it up and were being a bit silly with our pacing. Karin mentioned it to me and yelled out that we were all being asses. ha ha. She was right. There was the usual light-hearted banter, the usual story-telling and you would chat with someone for awhile, then pass them or they you. You waved to your counter, went to your table or chair as you needed or grabbed some nibbles from the race table. The temperature in the dome was a bit warm and it did feel a bit 'close' at some points through the day and looking through the emergency doors it was bright and sunny and hot outside. At the far end of the track there were various things laying about and some people had hidden buckets or pee bottles so they didn't have to make the journey to the 'official' toilets. I had intended on doing something similar but in the end I was grateful for the extra few seconds it took to get a change of scenery.

There were big garbage cans dotted around the entire track which was useful if you were munching on an orange slice or had a plate of food and were walking - as happened 12 hours later. Unfortunately I needed to visit those garbage cans twice for a different reason. I had my usual stomach upset around 4 hours into the race and had to race to one of them. I didn't like to but there was nothing else for it and I felt sorry for the people having to witness my upheaval. I think news got to the race director or he saw me and asked me several times if I was OK. Thanks for your concern. He was often seen walking around the track, wishing people well, making sure everything was good. Fortunately the second time nobody commented and I just carried on. I didn't seem to have any bloating or water retention issues this time - my fingers remained finger shaped.

I did go through a really bad spot and the medical stand which happened to be squeezed right next to me suggested I take some Dulce (dried seaweed) to get my color back. Also, after I did the dumpster dive, I think Jon (the running machine) told me to get some salt into me. He encouraged allot of runners himself. Well, I did try the Dulce and I think it did a better job of revitalizing me than the S-Caps so I'll definitely be looking to get some of this stuff again.

Over the following hours we got to see the start of the 12 and 6 hour races which made the track even more crowded but it injected fresh energy to the race. My fellow runner Jack Kilislian ran the 6 hour and he had an awesome race (41 miles). He never wears a shirt and is a really nice guy. He's down to earth and has a good sense of humor and he was hurting near the end and could see the strain in his face and body but he pushed for every lap and I was doing my best to encourage him. I had no idea how he'd done although if I'd looked more often at the HUGE leaders boards for the 6,12 and 24 hour races I would have had an idea. Regardless of my inattention, he held a beautiful trophy after the 6 hour awards ceremony. He placed first! Well done Jack!

Several times through the race I had a chance to chat with Cameron Lutley. His friends and people I just met this year and like very much were at an American 106 mile race called the Mogollon Monster 100  I had a look and it looks pretty damn tough. I think there is a 36 hour cut-off time and 23,000 feet of climbing so it is no walk in the park. They are Heather Lightfoot and Dan Lightfoot. She was racing and Dan was going to be pacer and support for her. Whenever I started to feel wimpy I tried to think of them. I hope she did well. Dan sent me a text asking how I got on at Ottawa but I wish he'd said how she did. Hers was a far harder race. When she posts her blog I'll post a link and you can read all about it if you'd like. It will probably (well, definitely)  make more interesting reading than this rambling report. ha ha. Hey, how interesting can I make a 208 lap journey around a race track sound? Here is her blog report [blog]

There was a really nice chap called Narcisse I believe. He lives in Ottawa and in previous years had volunteered at this race in many capacities and wanted to do the 24 hour race one day. This was his year. I believe in previous years he had done the 12 hour one. His wife was helping in the kitchen and his little 4 year old daughter was a real sweetheart and her and her new-found friends were all playing on the huge mats that are used for pole-vaulting. He was down-to-earth and had a very positive attitude. He was humbled by the runners he saw over the years running through pain but with determination. It was a pleasure to meet with and talk with you.

I also stopped and chatted with Erik who at 16 was the youngest runner there doing the 6 hour race. His head lolled to the side and you could see he was really feeling it but I did my best to lift his spirits and tell him how remarkable he was and to keep at it and he'd achieve his goal. I'm sure he would have. Wow. What the heck was I doing at 16? 

I only peed once in the first 5 hours and once more over the following hours until I stopped at 12.5 hours. I was probably dehydrated but it's not unusual for me not to pee for hours and while it was colored there were no signs I was in difficulty. I tried to take S-Caps and gels regularly but as is usual I get tired and forget. I was just nibbling on orange slices or watermelon and occasionally drinking some Hammer gels. I tried some Perpetuem but forgot after a while and thought maybe it was causing some of my stomach upset. I probably was not getting anywhere near enough food. I didn't think the selection was very good for solid food. Occasionally they put out some potato wedges but they didn't last long although I enjoyed those.

The big problem for me on this race were my feet. I have never changed shoes and socks as much as I did in this race. I started with Injinji toe socks and my lighter trail shoes with heel inserts but still my heel felt pounded and then my baby toes started feeling crushed and getting hot so I took off the toe socks and switched to regular ones. That helped the toes but didn't do much for the heel. I then tried a new pair of socks with my heavier but more padded trail shoes which are more roomy. They gave my heels some relief but I noticed a hot spot developing in an unusual place for me which was below the toes in the middle. At first when I took off the socks to check it was a fairly small blister and I tried to put on a Spenco second skin and some Kinesio tape over that but I think it just aggravated things. 

Whenever I came around and thought about having the medical team deal with it they had their hands full with other runners doing massages or dealing with feet or electrolyte problems so I just put it off until I was in pain just walking. When I had a look after the race the little blister had grown to one that was probably 3-4 inches long. I think the trapped liquid had pushed itself further and further along the underside of the foot. Popping it may have helped but I think unless it was dealt with properly it would have resurfaced. Blisters really can end races and I would recommend in a really long race dealing with them ASAP and not ignoring them. I told the medical lady I wanted to get to 50 miles and then would have her look at it but as I got closer to 50 miles it stopped hurting as much and as I knew I was going to call it a day shortly I decided to just get on with things.

Nice perfectly formed blister. I didn't enjoy running on it much

I don't know at what point I knew I was going to quit - probably somewhere around 65km. I decided 50 miles would be my goal and damn but those final km's seemed to just crawl by. As I said, I was walking huge amounts and sometimes some of the friends or runners that had finished their 6 hour races tried to encourage me which helped getting me running 1/2 a lap or maybe a lap sometimes but eventually I was back to a walk. As I approached 50 miles I knew I had two laps remaining and looking at the giant digital wall clock I had 4 minutes to get those 2 laps in to try to beat the Hali 50 mile time (11 hours 55 minutes) so I started running like a crazy person and was flying around the track. I'm sure everybody was wondering what the hell I was doing. Unfortunately I think I was out by a minute but it felt fun while it lasted and I just ignored the pain. I wish I could have done that for another 11.5 hours! ha ha. Once things fell apart I found myself sitting down in my chair quite often to change shoes or just chill for 4 minutes since walking seemed like hard work by that point.

My table had been encroached upon over the hours and with the medical people beside me there were a few water bottles and plates of nibbles on my table which kind of irked me but after my race was over when I was back from a shower and laying on my air mattress I was kinda pissed to see a 10 year old butterball of a girl dipping into my bloody potato chips. Goodness knows how often she'd been doing this but I'd seen her with all sorts of junk food over the 12 hours and I was like, maybe you should be out there running laps instead of eating as much crap as you can cram into your face. I'm just surprised the 2 chocolate bars were still there.

When I got to 108 laps or 52 miles I went over to my counter and told her I was retiring and thanked her and all the other counters there for their dedication. As this was a timed event rather than a distance race, I believe I am due the certificate and a medal but honestly at the time I didn't give a rats ass about this - and still don't although it would be nice to have the certificate in case I decide to give it another go some year. I didn't finish in my minds eye so don't feel I really deserve the medal but I gave it what I had and yes, I probably could have gone on for another few hours but I don't want to just walk so I didn't see the point.

I hobbled into the showers and had a BEAUTIFUL 20 minute hot shower. What a relief. After that I came and lay down on my air mattress which had just about deflated. I packed up my stuff - very slowly - and packed the car. I could have crashed in the dome as others were doing but didn't want to feel shit watching others still running so went to my tent and at 9:30pm crashed. I was going to get up at midnight and start the drive home but only woke at 1:00am. I got started and the roads were dead which was a relief. There were some fog banks but it felt like a relief to be heading home and not having the traffic that I faced on the outward journey. I passed a number of roadside signs for MacDonald's or Tim Horton's or Subway and every time I saw one of those my stomach growled and I had serious hunger pangs and had a huge craving for a MacDonalds'. I NEVER have MacDonald's but at the next exit sign for one I got off. I first got some gas and there was an attached burger joint but it HAD TO BE MACDONALD'S. I asked the guy if I was close and he said another 6 minutes down the road so off I went. Ohhhhh I was looking forward to that Big Mac or Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Hell, I might even have two. And a large fries to go with it! So I find the place and park and try the doors but no entrance after 12pm and have to use the drive-through. So I jump in the car and drive around and I'm told their systems are down and I should try the MacDonald's at such and such location. ! ! ! ! ! ! ! You have no idea how pissed I was. I'm literally starving by this point and I've got it in my head about this damn MacDonald's and they just dashed my hopes. When the young guy popped his head out the window to give me directions I almost pulled him out and was going to start stomping on him! 

Back I go and totally forgot his instructions and ended up back at the gas station and went in and had a burger and fries and it was shit - probably just like MacDonald's would have been - but I got some meat in my ravenous belly and I felt satisfied for the moment. I went off driving again and within 30 minutes I'm beginning to feel I can't drive anymore - exhaustion is setting in and my eyesight is getting blurry and I can't concentrate so I pull off at a big service station exit, find the furthest parking spot, adjust some of the crates on the back seat and grab my duvet and crash for 3 hours. When I wake it's about 8:30am and my eyes are taking time to adjust so I get back on the road and get to one of my least favorite sections going past Oshawa right where the 401 begins with all the Collectors and Express lanes. People are going at crazy speeds and I'm one of them, just wanting to get the hell home.

I decide I should probably go to work and help out my business partner in case it's busy. Even if i just sit down in a chair if it's busy I can at least keep an eye on things. I have a retail business and weekends can be very busy and with one person it can be a handful. I've got this craving emptiness again and decide I'm going to stop at a little diner I've never tried before which is right by my work called Butterballs. I go in and I feel like shit and I'm hobbling like an old man and since I didn't cut my hair it probably looks like I'm some sort of crazed Einstein without the 200 IQ! I look at the menu and quickly decide on 3 pancakes with syrup and a separate main order of 2 sunny side up eggs with potato chunks and bacon and French toast! It takes about 12 minutes and people are coming and going and my stomach is making me pay for every minute and then it's here - two large plates with real fattening food! Ohhhhh bliss. I tuck in and before I know it my stomach is saying ENOUGH already. Ok, my eyes were bigger than my stomach and I had to leave 2 pancakes but it felt good not to be crazy hungry anymore.

I drive the 2 minutes to work and just as I'm unpacking some stuff from the back of the car at 10am my business partner arrives and tells me I look like shit and to go home. I came in for about 30 minutes to the store anyway - realized I did look like and feel like shit and drove 25 minutes home where I checked some emails and then went to bed for 4 hours. I had pulled out 2 pork chops, 2 chicken breasts and for dinner ate that, plus a corn-on-the-cob and mashed potatoes followed 30 minutes later by a wedge of rhubarb strawberry pie! I had turned into an eating machine!

That's my story and I think it's time to end it. It was not my best effort but it was my 2nd longest run of the season and my fitness is not where it was at the beginning of the season. I think 52 miles is still a long long way and I should not beat myself up too badly but it's not a race I'll be wanting to repeat anytime soon. I thought the track would be easier than it turned out to be and I like to be outside with hills and rain and mud and wind and heat and cold. Sounds crazy. To everybody who stuck it out well done. Thank you for coming back to read my report. I have one race left in this season which is The Vulture Bait 50km run in London, Ontario (2 laps around Fanshaw Reservoir) in about 2-3 weeks. 

All the best to all of you who completed your full times at the race. It was wonderful having you there to be with and share time with over the hours. And for all you others that were not there but are runners yourselves, keep up the training, enjoying your races and I hope to meet some of you in the future. Happy running.