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This was the final race of the 5 Peaks Trail Race Series and one that had been postponed from earlier in the year due to the massive flooding situations in and around Calgary. The trail was west of the small hamlet of Bragg Creek (must be pronounced with a clenched jaw because these are the type of people that live out this way). It was still raining when I woke up this morning and it continued on the drive out. I hitched a ride with a buddy that was running the Enduro race and we were both anticipating what to expect. Earlier in the week he had ridden the course on his bike only to report that it was soup-like conditions.<br><br>
I had initially registered for this series just to try something different. I?ve never run trail races before but I have always enjoyed getting off the road during training runs. Signing up for 5 races over the summer was also good motivation to keep my running up. The price was certainly right too. By registering for all 5 races, you receive free registration for your 5th race. With this came a pair of Wright Trail socks each race valued at 20.00 each, a tech shirt bearing the 5 Peaks logo, and a half years subscription to Outdoor magazine. After each race they also had a ton of give-aways which ranged from DVD?s to tech jackets. I managed to get a few water bottles and a Salomon shoe bag. My kids managed to get a pair of sunglasses and shoe bags as well. I really enjoyed the fact that they had activities for the kids too.<br><br>
My first race was at the local ski hill, Canada Olympic Park, also known as Passkapoo to some of us older types. I was truly surprised to find that I placed third in my age group that race which had me standing on a podium for the first time ever. The second race was at Delta Lodge in the Kananaskis, this race was challenging because the race course was along the steep ski out on a X-country ski trail. I placed second in that one but was not around to get my medal because I had to get back to town to work. The third race was at Sibbald Flats which was probably the most scenic of all the runs. I didn?t podium in that race but managed a fourth place. The fourth race was also near Bragg Creek at a ski hill called Wintergreen. That was a tough trail which took us straight up the front of the ski hill to the summit then straight back down in wet conditions. I placed second in that race.<br><br>
Never did I dream that I would actually be in the standings of any race. But as I followed the points being doled out I watched myself creeping closer and closer to the first place. Going into this last race, I was just one point behind the current leader in my age group, and 4th in "over-all" points. I knew I didn?t have much of a chance to take third "over-all" because the guy I would have to beat was a good runner (Keith)?although he told me after the race he was constantly looking over his shoulder to see where I was. If I was to place in "over-all" points, I would have received a pair of Solomon Trail runners, a tech shirt and a whole bunch of other goodies. But all I could hope for was maybe having a shot at taking first place in my age group.<br><br>
When we got there, the parking lot was only half full with 30 minutes left before race start. I picked up my number and looked at the list to see if the other guys had already signed in. I was particularly interested to see if the guy I needed to beat was there yet?he wasn?t. I quickly scanned the list and saw that a number of guys hadn?t picked up yet. Keith was there though and I knew he would take third spot over-all?but I still had to give him the gears and poke him in the ribs a few times before the start. Other runners that I have come to know from these races where there too...Sandi, Jeff, and Stu. I quickly tallied the points and realized that even if I decided to walk this race I would still placed first in my age group. I was some what elated but at the same time I was a little disappointed because I didn?t actually win it by beating my opponent.<br><br>
The race started off down an undulating gravel road which had me breathing hard about 1k in. We approached a cattle guard which took everyone by surprise because we had to gingerly dance across the tubing or your foot would easily fall between them which would probably break an ankle. We then dipped to the left and climbed a steep portion of the road and then were ushered off into the undergrowth to begin the adventure. At this point I was in 5th place. Keith, Sandy, Stu, and Jeff were well ahead of me. I could hear a few runners right on my tail and knew it wouldn?t be long before they overtook me.<br>
My legs did not feel very fresh today. They felt stiff and tired and I knew it wasn?t going to be a good run. My breathing was laborious and I kicked myself for not using my inhaler.<br><br>
What can I say about the trail? It was wet?more then wet, it was a swamp. It didn?t matter where you tried to place your footing to get some leverage, you would sink into the soup. It wasn?t a question of trying to stay dry but more of how drenched were you going to get. One puddle turned out to be a bog and everyone that ran through it sunk to their knees. One guy that passed me a while back was up to his elbows trying to retrieve one of his shoes that came off. I?ve never, ever run in anything like it. It was extremely exhausting. I was very disheartened to see ?my? gang leave me well behind. I was at least hoping to see them on the straight-aways but they were so far ahead of me they were out of sight. The guy the lost his shoe caught up to me a passed me too.<br><br>
The trail went up and up and up, there were absolutely no dry patches at all. My feet were soaked right from the beginning of the race and were cold from the mud soup. Even though it was around 3c I had decided not to run in tights or with a jacket but I probably could have gone either way. At one point on the trail I passed a couple of signs warning of ice flows. Hmmmmmmmmmm. Around 5k I could hear someone coming up behind me. He stayed with me for quite awhile and I fully expected to have him pass me. But I suddenly got my second wind and my breathing became easier. I started to tackle the remaining hills as best one could while having your feet sink six inches into the mud at each step. The breathing behind me soon fell away and I was left to myself. The trail finally breached the top of the course and started the descent. I over strode as much as I could without having my feet go out from under me. I came to the top of a long drawn out clearing hoping to see some of the gang but no one was to be seen. I followed the trail keeping to the edges and nearly missed a hairpin turn. I looked over my shoulder before I ducked into the trees and saw a couple of runners just entering the clearing.<br>
I looked further down the trail and I could make out two guys and I felt a little better that I had made up some time?better late then never. I ran full out along the trail slipping this way and that way trying to keep my balance. I turned a corner and ran across a wooden bridge, across the gravel roadway and up through the chute. 7.3k in 43 minutes?.a tough run, but it was all relative?the winning time was 33 minutes. I was the seventh across and fourth in my age group.<br><br>
Keith, Sandy, Stu, and Jeff met me as I crossed and we all had to laugh about the conditions. We all had to congratulate the guy that lost his shoe only to regain his position up front. We were all covered with mud from head to toe. It was hard to straighten our legs because of the dried mud. There was mud everywhere?I wish I would have taken a picture. It took me 5 solid minutes to scrape the mud off in the shower when I got home and another 2 minutes to flush all the goo down the drain.<br><br>
So, I placed first in my age group in the series, a first for me. I never thought that I would actually place when I registered for this series and I was really, really surprised. I met a ton of great people and came away with some hardware. This was my first taste of trail running and I think I will be doing a lot more. Next year I?ll probably run with the Enduros and finish as a mid packer?but I don?t really care?I?m having too much fun playing in the mud.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi EQ, this report was from last year, or was it the year before? Anyway, I posted it for Durt because he was mentioning his upcoming mudfest race. But thanks for the response...I just have to get better before I can lace up.
 

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I have pictures from that trail... I think I'll post them for you if I ever get my computer up and running at home. Nothing spectacular, just shots along the way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Were you out there when it was a swamp?
 

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Doah! Now that you say that I remember your just getting back from injuries. <img alt="icon_colors.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/icon_colors.gif"><br><br>
I hope you don't think my post was insensitive or anything like that. It wasn't meant to be.<br><br>
Of course, now that you mention that, I seem to vaguely remember reading that report before...but it didn't click to you said something.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Insensitive? No worries...I'll get back to it one of these days...I'm just taking a hiatus..yeah, that's it! <img alt="wink.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/wink.gif">
 
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