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<span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">Yesterday I ran the Seaton Trail 52km race on very little training. I had never done this race before, but I found it was one of my favourite courses in the Ontario Ultra Series and it instantly became one of my most enjoyable days of running ever. I was worried that I would either DNF or have a really rough race because I haven’t been training much, but as it turned out I felt great and finished strong in 6 hours 58 minutes.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">For a number of motivational and personal reasons, plus the huge amount of snow in Ottawa this year, my training this winter has been all but non-existant since January. Not including the race yesterday, the sum total of my running mileage this year so far was just over 300km, most of which was in January. Damn.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">Given my lack of training, when my friend Ian contacted me earlier this week and asked me to come along with him to the race, I quickly agreed but admitted to myself that it was going to be a painful and/or slow experience. We drove down to Pickering on Friday evening, then arrived at the race site at 6:30am Saturday. Ian’s race, the 78km event, started at 7:00 but I had an extra hour to kill before the 52km and 26km events began. I spent the time chilling and talking to trail running friends. When the race started I hung out towards the back for a while then started picking my way forward in the pack, especially on the steep, technical and muddy downhills where I was quite a bit faster than many of the road runners and newbies trail runners who were doing the race.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">The course itself was a beautiful but ridiculously challenging 26km out and back. There were some flat runable sections, but also many hills that were long, steep, and very technical. And mud. Lots and lots of mud. About 500m into the race my shoes were covered in thick, heavy mud. As the day wore on some of the mud dried up, but not much and the race was still a bitch of a shoe sucker. The trail also crossed a knee-deep river that we had to wade. This was my favourite part of the course, especially since the day continued to warm up and the river was a chance to cool off and rinse the salt from my face. The trail also came very close to some steep cliffs, where the edge of the trail had eroded and we were running less than a pace away from the edge. Near one of these sections the race volunteers had helpfully put up a sign saying, “Remember, you signed the waiver”. By the way, like all ultra races I’ve done, the volunteers were fantastic.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';">During the first lap I mostly kept to myself, listening to my music and just taking in the course. Usually in races like this (ones with a 25km and 50km event) I avoid talking too much with the shorter distance runners because I know they’ll be finishing soon and it’s kind of a downer when I have to go back out of the course alone. I did still say hi and give encouragement to everyone, though. Part way through the first lap, a 78km runner gave me the greatest compliment that I’ve ever received as a runner. He slowed down when he saw me coming and took off his headphones, like he had something to say. I stopped and did the same, and he told me: “I saw you finish Sulphur Springs (100 miler) last year, and it is remembering that that keeps me running”. Woah. Like, holy shit. There is a guy who did much the same thing for me years and years ago who I never got the chance to talk to, but I was shocked that I was that person for someone else.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';">I completed the first lap in just over 3 hours, but was starting to feel the heat. I ate a handful of ginger cookies and chugged some soymilk to settle my stomach, left my iPod behind with Ian’s dad, and returned for my second and final lap of the course. I could feel myself slowing down and starting to get a tiny bit nauseous. Also my knee was starting to hurt. I took two ibuprofens and luckily the knee pain went away completely. About 8km into the lap, I noticed a small snowdrift that had yet to melt completely. I dug through it to find some clean snow, and stuffed it into my cap. This was one of the smartest things I’ve done in my entire life. It felt like the ambient temperature instantly went down three or four degrees. I picked up the pace and was walking much less. Incredibly, from that point on I was picking off other runners and wasn’t being passed anymore. Ian and I had passed each other several times earlier and he looked very strong and fast (and in the top five of his event). When I saw him for the last time on lap two he said that he felt like he was run over by a truck, but he was hanging in there. Other 78km runners weren’t doing quite so well. There were a bunch of DNFs, and a couple runners who kept going despite being in really rough shape.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-size:medium;"><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';">By the time I reached the turnaround point on the second lap I looked at my time and decided that I would push myself to finish the race in less than seven hours. It would be a tall order, but I was feeling good enough and I was holding my pace. I stopped taking walk breaks except on the steep, long hills. With three km to go, I had about 25 minutes and a river crossing to go before getting to the finish line by seven hours. As I crossed the river, the lead runner of the 78km race passed me. In less than 8 hours, he had run 26 km more than me. Wow. He was last year’s winner of the North America wide Trail Runner series, though, so I didn’t feel too bad about getting smoked by him. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/notworthy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="notworthy"></span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">I came out of the woods and back to the start/finish area with less than five minutes to spare, crossing the finish line in 6 hours 58 minutes. I’m not sure what my exact place was, but I was pretty solidly in the mid-pack, not including the DNFs. I was very hungry and thirsty, and I ate and drank everything in sight for the next hour while talking with the other finishers and the volunteers. I took a cold shower, which felt terrific, and watched the 78km runners come in. Ian finished fourth overall, top male under 40. We hung out for a little while longer, and then hit the road.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:'Times New Roman';"><span style="font-size:medium;">Overall this race was tons of fun, it was a great course, I got to see all my ultra friends, and I did far better than I ever would have expected. I’m a bit sore right now, but I didn’t get any blisters or even hotspots and I’m walking pretty well. I plan to come back to this race next year, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a tough, exciting trail race. Thanks for reading!</span></span>
 

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Good job on a great race! Sounded like a good time <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile">
 

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Belated congrats on the run, Mark!<br><br>
I was volunteering on that race, at the aid station at the start/finish. Thank's for the plug........ it's comments like yours that make us keep coming back and helping. It was indeed an amazing and inspirational day!<br><br>
I've hiked many a part of Seaton over the years and been wanting to run it, but am still fighting recurrent injuries.<br><br>
Maybe I'll see you there next year!<br><br>
Nancy
 
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