Saturday, July 20, 2013


Entered 2013 Dirty Girls 48 Hour Race

Hello all. I have paid my dues - without paying my dues - if you get my drift. I've entered and paid for the 48 hour Dirty Girl race and my ''dues'' will be paid IF I complete this Herculean feat. It is a mad mad world we live in. . .and sometimes we do mad mad things. This is definitely one of them for me and I wouldn't have it any other way!

When I considered my race selection this year the 24 hour DG was going to be the crown jewel of the season. I'd read about it from others people's blogs (here you can read four other runners race reports from 12 to 48 hours) and last year contemplated the 12 hour but decided I didn't want to do a night run on an unknown course. With that in mind I decided that I would do the 24 hour Dirty Girls this year. As the season got underway I began to have a little more confidence my ability to complete a 24 hour race - after all - unlike a specific distance race where you can DNF (as I did in my very last race - which leaves you with no reward, no finishing time, no points awarded to the series, no recognition you worked your smelly little socks off and ONLY did 27 miles), there is no real pressure on you in a timed race other than the pressure you put on yourself. 

Go as fast or as slow as you want. Sleep if you need to, chat to friends, hang out at an aid station for awhile, sit down and deal with those hotspots, rehydrate, refuel, walk. Leave the course and go for a burger as long as you come back and start where you left. Do whatever you want. It's just about you and the clock and how far you can run/walk or crawl in 24 hours on that looped course. Simple

After reading all the blogs I could find and all ready to sign up for the 24 hour DG race I then decided, well, for $60 more I can add another 24 hours. I don't know if I was stupid as hell to sign up for 48 hours or sly like a fox. Think about it though. If I tried to do a really good 24 hours and failed  - in that I didn't complete as far as I wanted - I'd be really disappointed. But really I'm getting twice the amount of time to do a respectable amount of distance. I mean, even if I walked 2 miles an hour for 48 hours I'd complete almost 100 miles. 100 miles is a hell of a long way. I think whatever distance I got in I would be well chuffed with and I'll have some really interesting experiences to share and remember. Isn't that what life is for? To experience things and feel you really lived? Yes, there is going to be pain, discomfort, tiredness, extreme fatigue, blisters, nausea  and whatever else comes my way - but there are also going to be some amazing highs; making friends, going through a shared experience, helping each other, running through the night and realizing what my body and my mind are capable of doing.

I have no idea - yet - about what I'm taking, what I need to take, what my intentions or goals are, etc. I know there are quite a number of other people I've met in the OUS series this year also doing this event. I wonder how they are all feeling. Some are seasoned veterans who have many 100 miler and 24 hour races under their belts and others will be like me, I hope, and complete novices. I have allot of respect for everybody who participates in these races regardless of their speed and always try to encourage and praise. So far it looks like 24 hardy souls have entered.

I placed an order for my headlamp and some new shoes. My Asics from last year are totally beaten up so I need to get these new ones worn in within 2 weeks. And I am getting some new Body Glide. Ahhhh, my private parts thank you. They say you shouldn't do anything new in a race but trust me - this race is going to be filled with 'new'. Well, I'll update you closer to the day. Keep well everybody and I hope your running is inspiring you. . .

A Week to Go

OK. I'm starting to realize what I've gotten myself into. Can I have another 2 years to train please? I'm going to try to stay calm but holy crap.  So the good news is that my two new Asics shoes are broken in pretty well.  I've tried my Injinji toe socks. They feel weird but seem to be OK but I'm certainly not sure about putting them on throughout the race when my feet are going to be sore as hell and just bending over is going to hurt. You have to separate your toes and force those little piggies into them and let's face it - that ain't gonna happen 18 hours into a run.

I had an A-HA moment. I read some people talking how they put Vaseline or Body Glide onto their feet and figured I'd give it a try on a few training runs on the hot spots I seem to be developing on the pads of my feet. Wow! Body Glide did me proud. Seriously folks - try it out. Apply liberally on heel and toes/feet and see how you get on. I didn't get any chaffing or hot spots. I'll definitely be applying multiple times over the course of this race. I also read that Duct Tape on your feet probably isn't a great idea (not breathable) for a long race so I'm going to avoid tapes if I can but research a bit more. I've been reading up on all the blister prevention methods and the ways of dealing with blisters if (or should I say when) I get any. I've never lost a toe-nail yet but certainly had my share of black toenails on the second toe. I'm hoping there is enough room in the shoes to prevent my feet getting beat up too badly but we'll see.

Last week I managed about 53 miles in training with my longest run at Sulphur Springs on Sunday of 18 miles. I met Elise there at 7am and we did the course in reverse which left me asking 'which way' a few times. She told me about many of the other runners and seems to think I'm going to get my ass handed to me on a platter in this race and her opinion of my chances are that I'll be last. Thanks for the mental boost! Sheesh. She asked me how I felt after the 50 mile Sulphur Springs run and I said, 'like shit!' - yes, I know this race is going to be, um, considerably longer than 9 hours. But hey, the people entered are hardcore ultra runners so if I get eaten alive then it will be by some very good runners and I have no issue with that as long as I give it my best.

I have my new Petzl MYO head light which in the house in a dark room seems pretty good. I wanted the NAO but can't afford that. Elise says I'll regret not having one at Haliburton during the night. Oh well, I can't imagine I'll be running at speed during the night and hope mine copes but I'll get a chance to try it at DG.

I've also gone three times to the Short Hills Provincial Park close to St. Catharines and it's darn good training. It is more technical than Sulphur with more single track and some good short sharp hills, rocks, etc. I am not as familiar as I'd like with the different trails but it's coming. I've done 3 x 1.5 hour sessions there, trying to get strengthened on the trails rather than road running. 

I have started to compile a list of things I need for this race and am toying with things like 5-hour energy drink. Not being a tea/coke/coffee drinker I'm wondering whether it's a good idea. I've read about some instances of people having heart attacks and don't know if this is going to affect me in the wee hours after being on my feet 18 hours. Maybe I'll just take a swig or two to see what it does. I've got two tents, a 2-person for myself if I need it and a larger one which is just going to be for 'stuff'. It is larger and I can fit chairs in there and get my supplies organised. I'll head up Thursday afternoon and set up along the start/finish line.


What a tough one to predict. It really depends on how I hold up with sleep deprivation, what the weather throws at us, and the minor matter of running/walking a huge number of hours. The key for me is going to be the feet and making sure I look after them. Another key is what is it going to be like trying to get up and get moving again after I'm totally shattered. I've never finished a race, rested for a while and then gone back out again and once I seize up I have no idea how I'll be able to mentally handle that. There are only 23 runners spread out over 5 miles so much of the night I could be completely on my own. That is going to be weird. I spent tonight syncing a mini iPod and it will be the first time I've run with music as well.

So let's cut to the chase. Mileage predictions.

I honestly hope I can get to 100 miles (162km) in 48 hours so that is my minimum goal and to be honest I'd be annoyed with myself if I only managed 100 miles in 48 hours unless I got injured. If I have more in the tank I will try for the 125 mile (200km) super-duper medal and I doubt I'll have any energy left for more than that but if I did get to 200km and had enough time I hope I'd push myself to do just 1 more lap because I think other people will be satisfied with the medal and quit.

The strategy I'm going to employ is initially to walk ALL hills going up and be very gentle coming down and where things are flat/easy just do a light jog. I'm going to take a salt tablet each and every lap and make sure to hydrate constantly. I'll visit the aid stations regularly and stop at the end of every lap, perhaps taking the shoes off and socks and making sure they are dry and grabbing a bite to eat. I will rest as long as I need in the big tent and if I need to crash for a few hours I will. I will massage my legs and hopefully be able to do some laps with other runners to pass the time. I don't have any pacers or support coming along like some others but maybe they will have some pacers who want to get in a lap or two. I might need it.

Well, there you have it. I'll post one last time before the race with any last minute updates. I hope everybody is doing well and appreciate you stopping by to read my pre-race preparations. . .

Tuesday (3 days prior to race day)

After work I went for groceries. It felt strange selecting all this junk food - salt and vinegar chips - chocolate bars - donuts - Monster Energy Drink - cheesies - chocolate chip cookies. Not my every day choices. Alongside that was an assortment of smoothies, orange juice, oranges, apples and bananas and I really want to lay my hands on some Mr. Freezies  Do you remember them as a kid?

I got some Imodium just in case (I was a Boy scout). My second last run was on Sunday at the final training run for the Iroquois Trail Test (34km race the week after Dirty Girls). I wanted to see the course in person since that knowledge could help allot and it certainly did. Damn, the first 1/2 seemed reasonable with a few rocky sections and a few reasonable climbs and the lead group of four guys and I stopped at an intersection to look at our printed maps and I said it seemed reasonable so far but then it got REALLY technical. Full on Canadian Shield rock with roots. Very serious stuff. Get it wrong and you will break a leg or arm. The rocks on the day were fairly dry but I 'd be crapping myself on a wet day with the moss on those rocks. 

As you'd expect I went too fast and couldn't keep up with the lead guys and then found myself on the trail by myself. I carried on and got lost several times but met up with Simon, who was running with his Golden Lab. Then we found ourselves back at a point we'd already been with 3 women who were wondering which way to go. I decided to re-due the part I'd already done with them and Simon headed back where we'd come to get to the finish. Off we went and got lost again, ending up yet again at that same point. We did finally get back to the start/finish. It is a lovely course, some lovely fast sections but some very tough ones. I'll now know what to expect. 

I did try a Kenesio type tape on my ankle and on the pad of one foot to try it out on the training run. It stayed perfectly on the ankle but was less successful on the pad of my foot but it is very breathable and sticks on very well. On the other foot I tried on a 'spray-on' skin. I applied it the night before and it really stinks and does take about 10 minutes to fully dry so it's not something I can really apply on the day at DG but I thought it did an OK job although after only a 2 hour run when I pulled off the socks I could see some little 'balls' of the stuff so I imagine it would get stuck in the socks eventually and potentially cause blisters. I think the best solution in DG is just to do a lap or 2 or 3 and then change socks and clean everything off. The Body Glide was excellent - no hot spots.

My final run took place at Short Hills Provincial Park the day after. I was really pleased with it. I had more energy and although it too is technical in parts, I got to the tops of most of the hills. Now it's rest time.

I have to work tomorrow and after will grab a few more supplies and on Thursday morning pack and get my sorry ass up to Mansfield for 3pm to start setting up my 2 tents, have dinner, chat to other runners, weigh-in, collect my kit and have an early night. The weather forecast looks awesome - no rain and reasonable temperatures. Damn, that's one less excuse for me.

I'm really really really nervous about this one - more than any race I've ever done. I hope I don't need the Imodium before the race because right now I feel like I may crap myself! I'm trying not to get overwhelmed. I just don't want to let myself down but all the ultras this season have let to this point (like some 50k's and a 50 miler and a 6 hour timed race are going to help soooo much for this one - yeah, sure) so I hope I have learned some lessons along the way (obviously not - I bloody well signed up) and I hope to be writing you a detailed and interesting race report. Wish me luck and good luck to all of you.



We got an email from Diane (Race Director) today indicating they are going to post results live over the course of the 48 hour race (and for the other 24 and 12 hour races) at different points so if you are interested check it out. 


Hello everyone. Thank you for visiting my blog. I'm sitting currently (a welcome relief to running I might add) the morning after the race. My legs are angry with me and my feet are really, really pissed. To put it succinctly, I hurt.

What an experience. I got my 100 mile medal! I'm so pleased. I worked my ass off for that buckle and it was my FIRST 100 mile effort. Hats off to you 100 mile junkies. 100 miles is a long long long way. At least I had a tent to enjoy after every 5 mile loop. I think doing a point to point or out and back race would have been allot harder but I'll let you know if I do Haliburton 100 mile in about a month which is 2 loops out and back.

I finished in 10th of 23 runners (unofficial) with 100 miles and it took 33 hours 37 minutes which meant I could have run another 14 hours to get more laps but I'd had enough and I honestly was pretty shattered. I knew if I could have gone out for one or two more laps I would have placed higher in the standings because people like me would have stopped, but I was very happy. I'm happy with my placing. I held my own with some really dedicated runners and for my first foray at this distance I have nothing to be ashamed about considering 50 miles was my longest race ever back in May.

First and more important than anything else, I want to thank Diane who was race director and Henri who was co-race director. There is a hell of a lot that goes into organizing something like this and it was awesome to meet her and she surrounded herself with fellow runners at the aid stations and start/finish line and she always had a smile, never looked phased and it was a genuine pleasure to take part in her race. Thank you so much.

Diane (Race Director) - always smiling and put on a great Dirty Girls Race - Thank you so much. In Race Headquarters

Henri - Diane's partner and Co-Race Director - setting up the start/finish line -
he is also the race director at the Niagara Ultra

Cabin with race supplies
I drove up at about 1:15pm on the Thursday afternoon and got there by about 3:15 and Diane showed me where I could set up my tent. I proceeded to do that and you can see I was pretty well set up with my two tents. I had tonnes of room and when Kimberley Van Delst arrived I invited her to bring her chair and supplies in and use it to to hang out during the race. I only saw her back at the tent 3 times during the entire race. Everybody runs their own race. 
My set-up. Tent for sleeping, tent for supplies and recovering and my RAV
Casa del Alex - couldn't resist - thanks to my sister for loaning me this. It was amazing

Front of Dirty Girls 2013 shirt with race bib and my home-made lap counter which I marked my times each lap

I certainly did! And I enjoyed every minute of it being a dirty boy!
Just before the start - I was VERY apprehensive
Good luck charm - helped when I was tired thinking of someone I miss

Alex, Kimberley van Delst and Jack Kilislian - all great runners (well, two of them are! I'm a newbie)

Kim and Jack - messing around before the start
Many more tents along the field along the start/finish - you dive into the woods at the end and take a right

 Unfortunately for Kim, and I know she was really upset, her race finished early after she diagnosed crepsis in both feet. I don't know allot about it but it's inflammation of the sheath that the tendons run down for you to lift your toes. She was only 3 laps from getting 100 miles but she was smart enough to know when to shut it down. She has a number of big races still to come and wants to recover and she is an awesome runner so sorry Kim. Plus she had a pretty juicy blister on the bottom of one of her toes that looked very painful.

State of My Body After

So what is the state of my body? Well, my newly broken in Asics did very well. I didn't change them out for the whole race and only got one nasty blister in the usual spot to the side of one heel. Besides that my heels are bruised and very sore and my two toes which always get beat up didn't do too badly. During a sock change I did notice an air pocket or blister pocket under one of the toenails but they don't feel sore today. 

Just to let you know that in a 100 mile run you need lubrication EVERYWHERE. That includes your butt! Never had butt chaffing before but will remember it for next time. No thongs for me thank you. 

The Body Glide on the feet worked a treat. I ran about 4 laps and then would take off the shoes and socks, get rid of all the sand that accumulated, wash my feet and get all the grit off from between the toes, dry them and put on a new pair of socks. It worked great. I didn't wear the Injinji socks to give you my thoughts about them in a race but I think they would be better to use in a race that you don't need to change socks to get into.

The sorest parts of me are my heels and the backs of my legs. I had a very poor sleep and was restless (have needed to take an Advil each night to reduce the shooting pains down my legs) but all things considered I think my body held up very well. As other ultra runners have said, your body never goes above a pain threshold during running. You get waves of pain - one lap you feel you have energy again, the next you are slogging it and walking. I don't hurt 2x as much as my 50 mile effort so give that some thought if you are contemplating an ultra or a longer ultra. I was really worried about what state my body would be in but if you take care of your feet and your food/hydration you won't feel worse and worse and worse. My longest race before this was 50 miles so you can do a 100 miler if you have 50 miles as a base.


I had my weigh-in at about 7:30am on Friday morning, just before the start and was 154lbs and 24 hours later was 156 which was caused by fluid retention - also possibly caused by too many S-Cap salt tablets (I was taking 1 each loops and perhaps during the night I didn't need to take them so much). I'm usually one to pee maybe once in a 5-6 hour event. This race was crazy for me on the second day. I must have peed once every 15 minutes over 4 hours or more. It was really frustrating. I'd be slamming down some hills and my bladder would tell me, OK, time for a pee. It was clear so all good but definitely weird. They do a weigh-in to monitor your physical condition. Some runners loose weight and some gain. Best if you stay the same. It is just as dangerous to get over hydrated as it is to become dehydrated but it's nice they take a runners condition seriously. They had a St. John's ambulance man at the aid station and no doubt medical support at the start/finish line. Nasty blisters I'm told were taken care of by Kinga who is a big ultra runner also but she is suffering an injury and needs to rest for a bit longer. Her husband, Stephan, was out with us on the course and was also instrumental in helping set up the night illumination on the course with the flashing LED lights.

Packing Up and Setting Off Home

I should have stayed the second night but after finishing my 20th lap (100 miles) I wanted to get home and have a shower and crash in my bed. The air mattress in my tent wasn't holding air and the noises of cars along Airport Road throughout the night were very loud.

It took me about an hour to tear everything down and trust me, there was no thought in it. Poles and stakes and clothes and food and everything got tossed in the back. I tried to drive bare-foot but gave that up after 1 mile - my blister was right on the floor and it was very uncomfortable. Then I switched to flip-flops but after 10 minutes of that I didn't find them working very well for me either. I was exhausted and realized there was no way in hell I was going to get home OK in that state. I found a closed diner and tried to crash in the car but there was no way to sleep in the back and bending over was not working so I gave up and carried on. I eventually found a Church and parked the car near the back and got out my sleeping back and pillow and crashed on the asphalt. I was not sleeping but my legs needed to get the pain out of them and I tossed and turned like a purple worm. I was getting shooting pains down the legs and in the feet which made driving very uncomfortable. I stayed there for about 1.5 hours as it got darker out and then carried on.

The rest helped and I was OK for about 1 hour but once I got into the fast QEW and 403 highways things got worse and I wasn't falling asleep at the wheel but I could not focus on the headlights. It was rather scary. I tried opening the window, blasting me with cold night air - I tried listening to the radio but it made no difference and I was never so happy to get home. I know now I was stupid to have come home immediately after I did that race.

Aid Station Food and my Food

There was a good selection I thought and Diane was interested to hear from runners if there was something in particular people wanted. I liked the pancakes and bacon and scrambled eggs and oatmeal they had early in the mornings and sometimes they had hot soup which hit the spot. The french fries with salt went down a treat and the 4km aid station had the standard assortment of things - pretzels, salted chips, worms (like gummy bears), orange slices, watermelon slices, etc. I took a crap load of food with me and many items I didn't even open the container. I don't think I ate enough over the 33 hours but did use the porta-potties twice. 

I hard-boiled about 7 eggs and salted them and cooked up 4 grilled cheese and took some Tupperware with ketchup. I ate most of them and had about 2 of the eggs. I didn't get a chance to have or share any of my Freezies because they refused to freeze in my ice buckets which sucked. My 2 thermos with soup kept it warm for about 20 hours and I only had one cup full - once it got cold I didn't want any. I bought 3 bags of chips and chocolate chip cookies and Cheesies but didn't open any of them. I also cooked up a big helping of mash with salt/chopped tomatoes/milk and butter and had a little of it but again, being cold it was not as palatable. I bought 4 smoothies and had about 2 swigs only and just was not wanting any of that stuff. I drank my Perpetuem and Hammer Gel which becomes pretty disgusting after hours and hours of it but I think it does give you some energy back.

Running at Night in the Woods

What a freaky, cool, exhilarating and sometimes spooky experience. It is very strange focusing your attention on the small amount of light coming from what your head light illuminates. I never felt I didn't have enough light but everything is so pitch black around you. Sometimes you are just concentrating on your steps and sometimes your mind starts to mess with you. You hear a noise out in the dark and then your adrenalin pumps in and you start to run faster or sometimes I used to yell out WHO THE F*@#k IS OUT THERE in my angry voice. Really silly but I read somewhere that you should yell out like you are the baddest creature out there. They had little flags marking the trail and sometimes flashing LED lights which were rather nice to come across. I did see once or twice a few head lights around me as the course is very loopy but for the most part I was all on my own. You do feel very isolated.

If you have never trained with a head light or run at night or in the woods like I had, I don't think it's essential you train in those conditions before your race unless you like a bit of peace of mind. My head light was a Petzl MYO RXP. It cost about $80 and I was happy with the quality of the light. The far brighter (and more expensive at about $180) is the Petzl NAO which I would have liked but could not justify the expense.

The Course

This is a tough course and everybody that got their buckle worked hard to achieve it. To give you an idea, my 50 mile Sulphur Springs time this season was 9 hours and I'd definitely get under 22 hours there for 100 miles. This 100 miles took me 33 hours 37 minutes and I did sleep (or rest anyway) for 2 hours in the middle of the night. Plus I did loose time at the start/finish over the course of the 20 laps getting food, changing socks, resting a few minutes. But it gives you an idea that it is a hard course. It is far more technical that SS and far more hilly. I loved it though. Almost all of it was in the forest with shading and there was a great mixture of single and double track. You can go to the Dirty Girls website to get a full km by km break-down of the route but I'll give you my quick and dirty from what I remember.

There was a 2km marking (which I didn't notice until about lap 15), then the 4km was at the aid station. 6km marking was at the very top of one of the bastard hills on the course and then there was the start/finish at 8km.

We had a count-down to the 8:00am start from Diane after her race briefing and then we were off, passing our assorted tents and then immediately you head into the woods on single track. There were two short hills which got you to the top of a section and then down to a gravel road. This went up at a gradual incline, turned a corner and then went sharply up. It didn't feel too bad for the first 10 laps but it felt like a bear later on. Oh, and another thing. The km seem to take ages and ages on this course. I'm thinking, 2km, I can do that in no time at all. Uh uh, it takes a long time.

At the top of that crappy hill you get flat again and weave through the trees and can see various runners. It gets a bit foggy here but eventually you start a nice section down through the trees on very single track, always heading down but not sharply and crossing a few gravel roads and diving back into the woods. At the bottom of this section you see the 2km marking and then you do a turn and head back up into the woods. Again, it's all kind of the same to me now but there are some mean hills here which are sharp and short but get you out of breath. Then you exit the trees and hit a wide section which is obviously a path for vehicles but is grass covered mostly and turn left. You take a right shortly and then after 100 yards you have a sharp steep left which leaves you tired. Again back onto single track through the woods and eventually you come to the 4km aid station which is a welcome sight.

After you leave the aid station you are on a road section with grass and bear to the right, following the top of the escarpment and then you take a quick left and come across a bench overlooking the amazing view from the top of the escarpment. I decided on my very last lap I'd take my camera and shoots some pics of the trail and the view from here. If you look down you will see a big barn or something which is where you are headed, way down. 

View from single bench overlooking the barn below. You ran down to it and then cut back up to the top of the escarpment again at a different point

You cut right into the woods and allot of trees have been cut and you hit single track which is hard packed sand and follow this slowly down. You can look down below you and see two trails below you. One is the steep wide track you take to the base of the hill and the barn I mentioned earlier, and the final lowest level is the gravel road which you cut back up immediately.

After following the hard packed sand you eventually come out to a very wide open space and take a quick left which is a bit washed out and very sandy where they've tried to fill it in. Then you have a huge open space on a gravel road and there is some garbage to your right. This section is steeply down and then you take the left fork which leads you very steeply down to the base of the escarpment. It is probably 0.25 to 0.50km long. There are a few little rises along the way down and then a long finishing run to the bottom where you immediately turn back on yourself and head back up the escarpment. This is the longest and steepest part of the course. It starts easy enough but the last bit near the top forces you to dig deep and most people walk this section. Most people actually walked from immediately turning the corner. This section was hugely washed out with 2-3 feet deep sections washed away but by staying on the right side there was no issues (unless you were a vehicle - then you can forget it!)

The final climb up to the top of that hill left me winded but then you had some flat sections and then got into single track again with some climbs and eventually get to a very steep section where you have to really slow down and it kills your legs. You hit a nasty camber in the trail and then another nasty steep down and you are back on a wide double track section. You take a quick right up this gravel road which is short and sharp and no fun, then a sharp left and within 5 strides you are faced with a VERY sharp downhill which leaves you braking hard for the first 100 yards. Then the pitch reduces but still a lovely downhill which lasts almost to the start/finish. In all my 20 laps I never walked this section. It is lovely and wide and you feel like you are flying. Then you get to the bottom and sigh sadly, knowing you are 5 miles away from doing that again. It's a quick left along some sandy section and grassy/gravelly/road section, slightly uphill, and then a sharp right and you can hear the traffic and see the open field where you camp. A quick run across the grass and you are back at the start/finish and ready to do it all over again.

Anyway, all this means nothing unless you were there or unless you are planning on doing the course but hopefully it helps somebody and here are some other photos taken on my 20th lap to give you an idea.

1st nasty hill but the photo doesn't really show it. The first few hundred feet of it are fine, but then it goes up steeply. This is about 0.5km into the run

Some of the single track - very flat here - lovely little section
Grassy/road section which turns right, then a sharp little hill and eventually to the 4km aid station

This is a short nasty steep hill, just after the photo above
Just a photo I took from the course
Another nice single track section

I'm not sure of either name but they were at the 4km aid station on my 20th lap. The middle lady is the wife of Pierre.They are the race directors at Creemore 50km ultra. They were really friendly and helpful.
OK, I look shit I know. How would you feel? :)
Kim and I after our respective races. Kim is just on her way home after calling it a day with an injury
Diane took a photo of her and I with the 100 mile buckle so I'll try to get that from her so you see I did actually get my buckle :)

Loop Times

Incredibly I didn't trip once in the 33 hours. I had a few stumbles and twice a stick poked me sharply in the front of the shoe but I got off without a scratch on this one. Did I walk any of the course? Er, do bears shit in the woods? Hell yes I walked. Initially I'd walk the hills as I learned the course and really late in the race I was walking probably 5km of the total 8. 

In case you are interested in my lap times they were:

Lap 01 - 1:05:24 (8am Friday) (weigh 154 lbs)
Lap 02 - 1:08:07
Lap 03 - 1:10:27
Lap 04 - 1:12:53
Lap 05 - 1:07:39
Lap 06 - 1:18:18
Lap 07 - 1:34:47 (threw up)
Lap 08 - 1:23:35
Lap 09 - 1:17:51
Lap 10 - 1:37:58
Lap 11 - 1:33:21
Lap 12 - 1:28:12
Lap 13 - 4:26:33 (slept in tent for 2 hours)
Lap 14 - 1:52:53 (threw up)
Lap 15 - 1:39:25 (8am Saturday) (weigh 156 lbs)
Lap 16 - 1:39:41 (peeing like crazy from now until lap 18)
Lap 17 - 2:03:15
Lap 18 - 2:02:48
Lap 19 - 1:56:42
Lap 20 - 1:57:56 (took photos on course)

That's about all I can think of. Sorry this race report is a bit jumbled but I think it gives you an idea of the course and my experiences on it. I was sorry not to see Dan and Heather Lightfoot for their 12 hour race but you can read their blog here if you'd like [BLOG]. The Dirty Girls is a wonderful race and I would highly recommend it if you want a challenge. The 12 hours would be a good test and a 24 hour a true challenge. The 48 is for nutters - I've always been a bit of a nutter. Thank you to the wonderful people I met and the wonderful people I already knew and got to experience this race with.

Stay well people and my next race report should be in another week where I'll be running on sore/tired legs at the Iroquois Trail Test 34km.

Happy Running.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Night Before Limberlost 56km

Here I am, having just posted my last race blog about 3 days ago on the Creemore 50km - which took place last weekend. Foolishly or not I convinced myself on Thursday that it was a good idea to race this one also. The blisters I received at Creemore I've dealt with and I'm hoping duct tape will do the job. I really want to lay all the DNF ghosts to rest this year and this is the last one to conquer. Last year I said I'd probably not do this race this year but I've had a year to have a change of heart. 

It's a stunning course, albeit a 4 hour drive, and even if it's a crappy day for me I intend on getting this done. This year I'm driving up at about 2am rather than camping. I'm even considering staying overnight up there to do the training run at Haliburton Forest on the Sunday so I'll have an idea of the 100 mile route I'm undertaking later in the season. Well, let's see. . .

Last year I dropped after the 3rd loop (each loop is approx. 14km) - this year they have substituted a road section making it 200m longer on each lap. Last year was extremely hot - like Creemore last weekend. The only good thing is you are mostly within tree cover. It is interesting statistics. The 2012 Limberlost report has received far more 'hits' than any of my other blog reports. I wonder why that is. Hopefully not because people like failures more than success stories. ha ha.

This course is deceptively challenging. From last year I remember you never get into a comfortable grove because it is constantly changing. I remember how ill-prepared I was last year with all my road training and to be honest, this year is not much different. My training sucks because I've had niggles and then, bam, the season was here and I started off OK but as the races have happened every two weeks (or one week like this one after Creemore) I'm virtually getting in no real training, just a modest single longer run and then it's time to race again. And it takes it's toll on you - legs that never really get their kick back, blisters and niggles from racing and general overall tiredness. I do look forward to seeing the familiar faces.

Well, I won't write any more - it's Friday afternoon and I need to pack my camping stuff, go get ice and supplies so wish me luck. 

Pre Race Predictions

Looking at last year my lap times were: 

Lap 1: 1:34
Lap 2: 1:44
Lap 3: 2:37 (talk about a melt-down)
for a total time of 5:55

This year my goals are to go slowwwwwwww. Yes, you read that right. Slowwwwwww. I"m going do my best to really relax on the first 2 laps, save my energy and not do the death march at all, or much closer to the end if needed. I will hope for an average of 2 hour laps which makes 8 hours. If I can do 7:30 I'd be amazed, but sub 8 I really hope to get. And if it goes amazing then, we'll see. 8 hours is still a respectable time on this course. You'll have to trust me. Please do enter this race. It is awesome. Well, wish me luck and I'll let you know.

Welcome back everybody. The race is over. I came, I saw, and. . . I FAILED :(( AGAIN! ! ! ! Arrhhhhhhhhh. Somebody put me out of my misery on this bloody course. Well, read the full report below if you want the details or bail out and wait for my next race report. I feel pretty low right now about running and ultras. I'm hoping after a few days I'll perk up but I am so very frustrated about my races lately. My times are getting worse and I'm suffering allot after them. Well, nobody said it was easy. 

Night Before

I didn't enter this thing until Thursday (race on Saturday) as I wanted to see how the legs felt after last weekend's 50km at Creemore. The legs I thought had some pep in them and the two big blisters on the heels had been popped but were still sore and I hoped that duct tape would stop additional friction on those points.

I went to the grocery store and drug store and got some supplies, came home, packed the car and tried to have a restful day. I had a nice pasta dinner and went to bed at 8:30 - setting the alarm for 1:30am. That worked well and I actually got some sleep. I got up and was out the door for 2:00am and was expecting a 4 hour drive. Unfortunately the bloody highway 400 entrance was closed from the 401 and I wasn't sure what to do so I got off at the next ramp and headed North but it got closed with more construction so had to get out my mobile and look for entrances. This wasted a good 30 minutes trying to get back on but eventually I did but I was now slightly stressed out.

The drive up the 400 and then onto Highway 11 was fine but for some reason I missed the highway 60 exit in Huntsville and ended up going another 10km North. Arrhhhhhhh. Finally got back, found the exit and the rest of the drive was en-eventful and drove into the open field where there were many other vehicles and tents set up. I was there at about 5:50am and I just jumped in the back seat. There were already some of the race organisers setting up the big marquee and I knew the set-up from last year. It was sunny and a nice temperature. On the way up the lowest the temperature read was 11 degrees which is cold but by the time I got there I think it was closer to 19. It did get allot warmer as noon approached but didn't get to the heat levels of Creemore or Limberlost from last year.


I had a guy next to me who slept in his car and when he roused we got talking about different things, etc. I headed to the port-a-potties before it got busy. This year they put them away from the field where the tents were which was good as last year during the night you heard the doors opening and closing through the night. I got my race bib but because I registered so late I couldn't get a T-shirt although she said after I could pick one up. I didn't bother, not because it was not nice, but because of my failed effort. I didn't feel I deserved one. The goody bag had a small local coffee bag, a hammer gel and some other little things.  I saw some people I knew and said hello but mostly I was back at my car organizing my stuff.

Kimberley Van Delst - awesome runner and always has a smile. Her husband is equally friendly.
56km runners listening to pre-race announcements - this was start/finish line behind marquee
People picking up their race numbers and T-shirts and goodies

More of the 56km runners listening to race director and sponsors
Last few minutes before the start - lovely day

I took allot more salt pills this time and had 2 Advil's as back-up if I started feeling pain. I applied my Voltaren gel and pinned my bib to my shorts. I took a photo of my lucky charm (I'm going to have to recharge the luck - I seem to have run out today) and then took my camera to take some shots as the pre-race announcements were happening. After that it was race time. We all gathered at the start line and were off in no time. 

You gotta have your lucky charm!

Lap 1 (of 4) - or 3 if you happen to be me

It is about half a km down the dirt/gravel road and then a sharp left into the woods properly and besides two other tiny gravel road sections the rest is entirely in the forest. In that respect it is lovely because it stays cooler here but this is a true off road ultra and not for the faint-hearted. Creemore is tough because of the toll the steep hills take on you and being exposed to really hot temperatures and direct sun. This one beats you up in different ways. Of course it is 56km making it longer and many people think that it is actually longer than that. The race Director did say they had added about 200 meters to the course this year which makes almost 57km but even without that added it feels like each 14km loop is longer.

I've mentioned it before but you never get into a rhythm in this course. It is lovely underfoot when you run and I'm not sure if the sponginess maybe sucks some of your energy over the long-term. It is constantly changing, you are up and down and turning. You have to be so very careful with your lines of sight and watching out for tree roots and rocks. It follows the contours of 4 or 5 lakes and is beautiful. You are up and down and I believe there were 2-3 more major hills but nothing like Creemore. There are enough downs to keep you happy as well and there were a number of muddy spots and one two which were quite brutal. One of those was within the woods in a pretty flat area but the one which was worse was just before a foot bridge with a big ugly old tree stump right next to it. I say ugly because it beat on me. 

I was leading a group of 3-4 guys and saw the mud but misjudged how deep it was and sank to above my calf and fell forward and my left arm slammed down on top of the stump and really grazed me badly. I got lucky because if it had been hard and dried up rather than wet it probably would have punctured my arm and being right on where you give blood you know the veins there are pretty close to the surface. I was shocked but tried to laugh it off and get cracking but I kept looking at my arm expecting to see the blood flowing. You know that feeling when you look at a cut, thinking, oh, this isn't too bad, and then the blood starts. I was not sure how deep it was but I was glad that it didn't start to bleed.

OK, it doesn't look so bad there once I rinsed it off but 5 hours earlier it didn't look so pretty

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. We were all pretty closely packed to start with of course. I was probably in the top 15 going into the trails and the pace felt good but I could tell by 3km that I was probably going too fast and should back off but as usual thoughts of people catching me and of feeling OK made me just keep at it. I figured also that if I got tired near the end, so what, I'd do a walk/run strategy. The temperature felt really good. There was an aid station in particular where you could hear them yelling and screaming encouragement to a runner as he/she came in and that was nice. 

I can't really describe the course in any details better than last year's report. There is just so much of the sameness in the woods that it's hard to say what stood out. There were 2 cabins in the woods, one that had a small climb leading up to an aid station, and then another which was further into the course and seemed much more isolated - almost more of a log cabin with no electricity - no roads leading to it. There were a few groomed sections in the woods which had recently been cut about 5 feet wide. The last 3km had a number of wooden walkways which were rickety and narrow, taking you over a boggy area. There were volunteers directing you at the points where you might have gone wrong. At one point a big guy was sitting in his chair in the woods with a bug helmet on and because he was so quiet it was kind of startling when you realized he was human. But if you said hello he was friendly right back. 

I heard the bullfrogs in the boggy sections again but this year knew what they were. No angry chipmunks this year making noises but I did come across a garter snake by the time I was walking on lap 3. That's all the wildlife I saw but I know full well with this type of ruggedness there would be plenty more around. I shadowed a guy for quite a while, probably for 1/2 way and I had my own shadow or two also. He was keeping a good pace and I was comfortable with him and we run across the start/finish mat after 1 hour 38 minutes. Too fast by far considering I'd suggested trying to keep closer to the 2 hour mark. Maybe if I had I would not blown up so badly but at the time things were not falling apart although by lap 2 I was already starting to have to walk sometimes. I lost my shadow and left the starting aid station ahead of everybody. I ran slowly down the road and looked back as I approached the wooded section and there were 2-3 making their way down the road.

Lap 2

Lap 2 was more lonely. We were more spread out and I was starting to regret my fast first lap and knew it was going to be a slow 3rd lap. My duct tape seemed to be doing the job on the foot pads but was less successful on the heels and I could feel those blisters resurfacing. I also found the heel itself was quite painful which I don't understand since it was such a spongy, forgiving surface. Again, I can't stress enough how many times you have to spring to the right, bounce left, jump forward, jump over big tree stumps. You are constantly shifting/moving/adjusting. What a great workout! I was almost out of steam already. My bib number had fallen down over my leg because as I moved my belt around to get some salt tablets it popped the safety pins off so that was now cutting into my leg and pissing me off. I was also having to stop for walking breaks more often and people began to pass me. A few I recognized.

I tried to take my salt tablets but forgot to take the hammer gels I had and I did remember my Perpetum powders on my belt for the first one and then I forgot to take those. It's a problem with me being consistent with all of that. It makes allot of sense when you pull it out and you figure out your game plan but once you are tired and hot and in a position where accessing anything on the go becomes difficult, then you tend to forget and over time that makes a difference. The good thing is I was drinking regularly and topping up my water bottle regularly but even so, in 6 hours 20 minutes I only managed to pee once so I guess I should have been drinking more.

As I walked to the starting line after lap 2 I was really really tired. Kimberly passed me just before the finish line and wished me well and looked strong but I knew I wouldn't see her again. I got to the aid station and asked for safety pins but the lady simply told me she had none and that was the end of it. I was like, well geez, can you ask somebody or do something? I couldn't run another lap with that bloody thing flapping all over the place. I found a familiar face that had finished his 1-2 laps and he kindly gave me 2 of his. Thank you! Lap 2 I don't remember the time for the lap but my watch said 3:42 or something I believe

The aid station people were really helpful except for this one woman but I guess she got so focused on her one task that she didn't realize that aid means aid, not just handing out a drink of water or heed. And that aid station had lots of people on it. Anyway, that was my one moan. Something else which I noticed is there didn't seem to be much of any selection at the stations. They had a good amount of water or heed but for anything nourishing I thought there was a fairly poor selection. They had gummy bears or whatever those things are. I found potato chips at one but not really salty ones. I saw watermelon slices at a few but only one had orange slices. They had some chocolate chip cookies and that is really all that I remember. Maybe I"m being over critical but I just knew I craved something and whenever I got to the aid station they didn't have anything that appealed to me. I tried some watermelon and that was refreshing. Oh well. Maybe by the third lap I was just tired and cranky.

Lap 3

Lap 3 was terrible. A reminder of last years performance. I left the start/finish area and I was walking up the road. In fact I wanted to quit just as badly and almost did. I got to the entry point into the woods and thought, I don't want to do this anymore. I'm shattered, I'm going to have to walk most of this, my blisters are painful as heck, my heels hurt with every step and I am not in a happy place in my head. I convinced myself to head into the woods and was thinking about turning around for 2km by which point I said to myself shut up and do it. I knew lap 4 was out of the question. I didn't care about it anymore. I just wanted to not hurt anymore. I walked for probably 3km and I did my best when I could to run some sections. I sat down 3 times to just collect my energy but if you sat too long the mossies ate you alive and now that I was walking the horse flies in sections were unbearable - chasing after you, biting and trying to lodge in your hair. 

I came across 2 other runners suffering from cramps and gave them 2 salt tablets each and they were grateful. I chatted shortly to a few people but always told them to go on, to run their race. Elise came by me on lap 3 and looked strong. She had texted me the day before asking if i wanted to go for a training run at Sulphur Springs and do 50km ! ! ! And she did Creemore last weekend like I did. Where the hell does she get her energy. And she was going to do the training run at Haliburton Forest the following day. That was my plan also - had the tent and all. Haliburton Forest is quite close to Limberlost and since it is a 4 hour drive up there it made sense to get a feeling for the course - but that was a pipe dream - I'm truly wondering if I have what it takes. Anyway, she passed by and said to me - YOU NEED TO PACE YOURSELF ALEX! ! ! All I could do was grunt and wish her well. Maybe if I'd listened I'd still be running but the blisters on blisters were really making me miserable and she is right. I need to learn that lesson once and for all.

I passed runners from the shorter distance events who were also walking but managed to get some running spurts in there. The 7km marking seemed to take FOREVER to show up. And then 10. And then 12. By then I could taste the finish for finish is what it was going to be for me. I got to the last lap and told one of the race marshals I'd had enough. I got to the finish tent and put my hands on my knees and tried to get my breathe back from all that walking! ha ha. I saw Helen who is the race director at Hali and she asked if I was doing the training run. I had to laugh at that :) Sorry Helen.

I've looked better - honestly. 14km to go and there was no go left

At least my tongue was still working. This is what I was thinking of myself
I saw some people I now knew. I saw Dan Lightfoot at the finish. I think he had either dropped out of one of the races or had been pacing his wife Heather. I just read her blog. It seems poor Dan got a bit lost out there. That sucks. But he helped his wife through lap 3. They passed me on lap three and I high fived them. Great going Heather. I headed to the car and just felt kind of clueless. Everything I wanted to do seemed to take forever. Eventually I got my lawn chair and sat down with a cold drink of water. I tried to encourage runners going out for their 4th lap but when some I knew came and asked if I was done already I felt shitty when I had to tell them I'd quit. I didn't want to discourage anybody and so I left the starting chute and slowly got packed up. I saw Ron come by and his wife was there with a drink for him and he soldiered on and headed out.

I changed into a fresh shirt and put pajama bottoms over my shorts and changed my shoes but not my socks. I didn't want to see what state my feet were in. I took a few photos of my sorry self showing you how I felt and turned on the A/C. My legs were twitching like crazy and once I cooled off I began the drive. I filled up with gas about 15 miles away and behind the gas station I parked and ate a supermarket sandwich which I wolfed down hungrily. I stayed there for about 25 minutes and then carried on.

I only got about 45 minutes into my journey but I knew I wouldn't make it home. My eyes were drooping and I was exhausted.  I found a side road off the highway and found some shade but it was now above 30. I put the windows down a bit and jumped into the back and tried to sleep for 30 minutes which made a huge difference and I was able to make the rest of the drive home without incident.

I took a shower to clean off all the mud and filth and had a look at the feet and the two friends I made at Creemore (blisters) are back and bigger than ever. I missed you both sooooo much.

That's it. It's not a happy report. I guess they can't all be. I'm just really really disappointed with myself. I hoped to finish this race and now have 2 strikes at it. It's knocked my confidence allot. I thought I could walk the fourth lap if I had to and a few lovely racers wanted me to join them, saying they were just going to have a nice 3 hour walk - but I had nothing in the tank and after sitting for 20 minutes everything had seized up. Thank you for asking though. 

I'll post some photos over the next day or two - there are not that many of them. Don't let my report put you off. This is a wonderful race but come prepared and don't go fast. Use the first lap to get a feeling for the course, and the 2nd to gauge your strength and endurance. If you have energy going into the 3rd lap use it. 

Take care and thanks to all of you that tried to encourage me out there or to those I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time. I hope all your races went well. Congratulations to all of you on a challenging course. And double congratulations to those of you that ran Creemore last weekend. You guys are hardcore! No wonder they give you an additional medal if you complete both. 

Here is last year and this year's lap times:

                                            Lap 1          Lap 2         Lap 3         Lap 4     Total Time
2012                                      1:34             1:44          2:37        dropped       5:55
2013 (200m longer)                 1:38             1:58          2:47        dropped       6:23

I seem to be getting older, slower, but not much wiser! ha ha.