Scorched Sole Ultra 25K Race Report

A.K.A. to hell and back or the most brutal race I’ve ever done or up the mountain we go.

Here are the race stats in a nutshell. Just looking at this elevation profile makes me shudder:

race snapshot

And how I felt about the race (one of many live tweets that happened during the race. See them all here):

 tweet

OK, I think that sums it up, that’s your race report! 😉

……..just kidding, of course. I guess we’ll start with the night before.

I have been training for this race with a group of friends for the last 3-4 months so we all headed down to Kelowna (a little over a 2-hour drive) on Saturday and had a hotel room for the night before the race. We went out for a yummy dinner and walked along the beautiful Kelowna waterfront, hitting the sack around 10:00 PM that night.

night before kelowna waterfront

Because the 25K we were doing was the shortest race in an ultra series that also included 50K and 50-miles (about 80K) our race didn’t start until 11:00 AM. The start times were staggered so all racers would finish closer together.

This meant we got to sleep in until around 8:00 AM and have a leisurely breakfast. Since I knew I wouldn’t be running for a few more hours I filled up on a bigger breakfast than normal. I was very happy for this huge breakfast later on.

breakfast
My friend Tara surprised us all with matching shirts so we took some pictures in them before the race started!

matching shirts

Originally I was going to wear the outfit I was in above, but with the 11:00 AM start time and the sun pounding down I decided to change at the last minute. I’m so glad I did! I wore my Lululemon run swiftly tank top and my Nike tempo shorts.

race outfit 
We got to the start about an hour early to pick up our race packages and get situated. I soon realized something had happened to my camelbak and all the water had leaked out. Just what you want to find out when you’re about to run up a mountain at 11:00 AM and its already 20 C (about 70 F) out and only going to get hotter.

We tried to patch it using packing tape and waterproof bandages (blurry picture below), unfortunately it still leaked so I had to turn it upside down in my pack and suck really hard (twss) to get water out.

leaky camelbak 
It was around this point that blog reader Susan (Hi Susan!) came over to say ‘hi’ to me! I saw Susan several more times on the course and she did awesome!!

Time to start!

start

Looking at the huge mountain we were about to climb…

start2

And before we knew it, away we went! It started out with a bit of a jaunt on the paved road before entering the trails.

Mile 1 – 13:07

Mile 2 – 13:24
 
Once we hit the trails it was up, up, up!

Mile 3 – 22:23

I ended up refilling my water bottle at this creek on the way back! Don’t worry, the race director had told us beforehand that this water was OK to drink.

We also took this goofy photo at the cross-roads pretending we didn’t know what way to go because my friends husband (who was doing the 50K) was worried we were going to get lost 😉 That picture also gives you an idea of the terrain – we were in a very wooded area at this point!

creek which way

Mile 4 – 19:42 –> the 1st aid station

This was where the trail racing mentality was way different. After all the climbing we did to get to the first aid station we stood around for a good 3-5 minutes refilling our waters and stuffing our faces with orange slices and chips. Oh the chips! Every race should have delicious salty chips at the aid station!

I actually really, really enjoyed the first 4ish miles of this course. It was on a beautiful single track trail that was straight through the woods. It was after this first aid station that I started to hate the road as the next 4 miles were straight UPHILL on a double-track, logging road with no shade.

Mile 5 – 23:28

hill hill2

Mile 6 – 15:40

I felt worse at mile 6 then I did at mile 20 of my marathon. The uphill was not ending and there was no-one else around me at this point, I was trying to run as much as possible but it was so hard and my back was killing me from all the climbing.

I tweeted this picture and got lots of tweets back encouraging me and cheering me on and that really helped me power through.

thumbs down

Mile 7 – 18:46

Mile 8 – 18:01

halfway point
A full mile after we should have been at the aid station we finally reached it! I spent about 10 minutes at this aid station resting, drinking and eating before heading back down the hills. I refilled my camelbak but about 5 minutes after leaving the aid station it had leaked all over me so I was soaking wet. That was lovely.

Mile 9 – 20:36 –> aid station

You would think going downhill would be easier – but it wasn’t. My knees were aching and the front of my quads were screaming at me.

Mile 10 – 11:14

Shortly after this mile a lady named Suzanne came up behind me and we ran together for the next 2.5 miles. It was nice to have someone to talk to and take my mind off the pain in my legs. She also took stopped to take this picture – that would never happen at a road race I bet!

nice view

Mile 11 – 14:29

Mile 12 – 12:38

Back to the 1st aid station again! At this point one of my friends had caught up with me and since my camelbak was leaking everywhere she gave me one of her spare water bottles to use. I was so grateful for that bottle!

Mile 13 – 15:06

Mile 14 – 13:08

Dare I say I was actually enjoying this part of the run? We were back in the pretty woods and shaded. However, there was one big stretch that was almost straight downhill and very technical. It was kind of scary trying to pick your way down with tired legs.

Mile 15 – 16:09

road

The above picture was taken at the beginning of the race. I was not that excited to be back on the paved road. It was absolutely torturous after running in the trails for the last 14 miles. The bottoms of my feet were so beat up after stepping on so many rocks that every single step on the pavement hurt.

It was also around this point I got lost. The trail was not that well marked and just had little orange flags everywhere. I knew that we had to get off the paved road and back onto the trail at some point so I was watching hard for the little orange flag. I saw one that I thought might be it and started to wonder off the road at the wrong spot. There was NO-ONE around me to ask. I was so frustrated at this point. Finally some people came along and told me that it was further up ahead.

Mile 16 – 15:08

I honestly thought the finish would NEVER come. Then I heard my friends cheering for me and booted it down the hill.

Mile 16 – 16.65 – 13:42

Final Garmin Stats

16.65 miles – 4:32:30 – 16:32 average pace

I have never been so happy to finish a race. All my friends were there waiting for me and my friend Jamie came to see me at the end. I actually felt a little delirious and out-of-it. I peeled off my socks and shoes and went and sat down in the lake. I didn’t even have the energy to wade into the lake, I just plopped down on the edge and let the cold water wash over my legs. Finally after relaxing for a bit and laying around I devoured a veggie burger and salad.

***
Final Thoughts: This race was really hard. It was well-organized and they had yummy food available for the racers afterwards but I would never do it again because the course was so hard. At the beginning of the race the race director said he was hoping the 25K would be a good intro for ultra-running and that people would come back and do the 50K next year but if anything this race made me hate the idea of doing an ultra. I did not enjoy the course or the terrain at all and found it really grueling and frustrating. I love trail running but I prefer rolling hills and single-track trails. The straight up and straight back down again was not fun for my mind or my body.

After the race I said this was harder than my marathon. In hindsight, I don’t think it was harder physically as I’m not nearly as sore after doing this race as I was after my marathon but I think it was mentally harder. I actually seriously considered quitting for awhile and I’ve never done that before, not even during my marathon.

OK, I will wrap this huge post up here. To everyone who was tweeting at me yesterday: Thank you. Thank you so much. You helped me more than you know!

44 Responses

  1. Anais says:

    You did it Amber – good job!! And you didn’t quit 🙂 Definitely sounds like it was a tough race though… I think the hills in Italy (where I’ll be training for almost a month I guess???) will look a lot like that… yikes!

    The setting definitely looked beautiful though 🙂 Great job again 😀

  2. CHERYL says:

    You are AWESOME! You stuck with it and I am so proud of you! Even if you never do this race again you will always be able to say, “I did that race, it was hard but I finished”. GOOD JOB!

  3. I dont blame you for wanting to quit, that is an INTENSE hill. But the fact is that you didnt quit, you kept going, and thats amazing. Good for you! 🙂

  4. Vanessa says:

    Good on ya for powering through and finishing! You are amazing!

  5. Lisa says:

    I was following your race on Twitter and it sounded AWFUL! I felt so bad for you…the water pack leaking, the hills…ugh! But seeing the photos it looks like the race was worth it. It’s so pretty and scenic!

  6. H-woman says:

    The chips are the best reason to run trail races, IMHO! That, and the scenery!

    Congratulations!

  7. lisa says:

    Wow. That looks like a tough course. Good job getting it done!

  8. Oh my, this sounds so tough. I am so proud and amazed that you can do this! That is so cool, Amber! Congrats on powering and finishing the race! You’re a trooper!

  9. erin says:

    wow that does not sound like a race i would do! but you did it! and it’s off your list!

  10. Kelly says:

    Wow, this seriously sounds like an insanely hard hike turned into a race. I don’t know how you did it! Whenever you said you ended up back at the first aid station I’m like… yeah I would’ve just skipped that middle part haha. I can’t imagine how much pain it must have been going down. When I’m hiking, I always have a harder time going down- my knees hate the downhill!

    Man oh man, but I’m glad you finished and you conquered it and you know you’ll never do it again! 🙂 Lesson learned!

  11. Ay yi yi. What a ridiculously tough course. How did the 50k & 80k people do that? Unreal. I am proud of you for finishing. It looks and sounds grueling. But it is a beautiful area!

    Well, every trail race you do from here on out wil probably seem really easy. 🙂

  12. mandy says:

    Holy shit, Amber. This race sounds grueling. And painful. That seems like an extraordinarily long time to run on a trail. You are a rock star, hands down.

  13. April says:

    Holy crap, no wonder you took walk/tweet/photo breaks. I think I would have called for a helicopter to come air lift my ass out of there! You’re a champ!

  14. nicole says:

    Crazy race stats right there! Nice job on finishing though! You did it when you did’nt want to and that’s impressive! 🙂

  15. Melissa says:

    This race sounds totally insane! I could never even DREAM of completing even part of this race, seriously. Well done & congrats and just wow. I also love that picture of you that the random woman took during your 2.5 miles together! Such nice scenery.

  16. Kyria says:

    No wonder it’s called the scorched sole! Sounds like torture! Good for you for finishing though…

  17. Heather C says:

    That elevation profile is crazy! I don’t even think our hikes in the Rockies look like that – the fact that you aren’t too sore says a lot about how prepared you were for this race, even if you didn’t feel like it during the long miles 🙂

    Also, seriously Camelbak?? Worst timing, ever!

    All that said – Huge congrats, Amber!! You’re stronger and wiser after every race, especially the challenging ones 🙂

  18. susan says:

    thanks amber, awesome job and your always smiling. Looked like you were having fun despite the hill challenge. I just knew where it ended and that in order to run it down that you had to save some energy as i had hiked it 2 weeks before. So mentally i was more prepared..but way to go. proud of you 🙂

  19. Megan says:

    You are seriously amazing! That really does sound like a hard race, and I am proud of you for finishing! I hate hills when running, so I can’t imagine how this must have been!

  20. Great race recap! You’re a trooper for doing this in the hot weather.

  21. Naomi says:

    i took one look at your elevation map and thought, “oh boy!” way to battle it out to the finish – you are a tough one!

  22. Caroline says:

    Wow! You’re awesome. Congratulations! Is it a coincidence the race is called “scorched sole”?

    • MissAmber says:

      Haha I think so because the route changes every year. Apparently this has been the hardest year yet!

  23. Lindsay says:

    Dude trail running is hard!! Stopping at aid stations is the worst because I just want to quit there 🙂 I enjoyed your tweets and congrats on finishing. I find it hard to believe you won’t run another trail race though… 😉

  24. Ris says:

    Holy cow Amber that sounds brutal! I’m in awe that you finished and lived to tell the tale. Congrats on a great race, even if you never do it again!

  25. Nicole says:

    Congrats on finishing- it sounds like a super tough race. It probably didn’t help that your camelback was leaking! I definitely would have cried a few times during that race.

    I think it would be really hard to not have anyone around for a lot of the race. You should be proud that you didn’t quit!!

  26. Becky says:

    Oh my gosh! Seriously, congratulations for finishing! I can’t imagine the mental game that was!

    You’re so good about taking pictures during races – do you take your camer with you, or just use your iphone?

    • MissAmber says:

      Usually I have my point-and-shoot canon camera during races but I forgot it last weekend so all the photos in this post are from my iPhone!

  27. A Super Girl says:

    I was following your tweets and just kept thinking ‘you poor thing’! It felt like it went on all day…can’t believe it was only 4.5 hours!

    You did great! I’m so glad you stuck to it and finished!

  28. Erin says:

    I think it is amazing to run up and down like tha. It looks more like something to ski down after taking the lift up. then finish off with some nice food and drink at the end of the day.
    Congrats on finishing
    erin

  29. J says:

    Congrats girly on a great race! Trails are so tough, especially with a big hill! Great job!

  30. That elevation sounds like absolute murder! Wow, I give you major props for finishing. I didn’t realize how long 25k actually was. 16 miles is no joke, especially on a trail!

  31. Congrats girl!!!! I would have died in the hot weather – I need cool weather when I am doing anything active.

  32. that sounds like pure hell. congratulatins on finishing!

  33. Page says:

    OMG – that race is no joke! Glad you made it and learned a few things along the way.

  34. Michaela says:

    INTENSE! Congrats on finishing such a challenging race!

  35. Girl, that is some SERIOUS elevation! Straight up hill, wow! You are hardcore for sticking it out in the heat & leaking hydration pack. I know it was nard – I followed your tweets and my heart was breaking for you. But you stuck it out and you DID IT! Way to go!

  36. Stephany says:

    I do not know HOW you did it. I’m sure I would have quit. It was tough enough to do a 5K on a trail and I KNOW the elevation wasn’t anywhere close to what you had to deal with.

    You are such an inspiration. And you’re amazing.

  37. Julie says:

    I was right behind you.I agree, the hardest thing yet. I’ve done Ironman Penticton and did not hurt as much as I did this week. Cheers to us we stuck it out!

    • MissAmber says:

      Great job Julie. I’m glad I’m not the only one who found this race incredibly hard!!!

  38. Phil says:

    Good Job Amber, Thanks for the report we did that race last year but missed it this year.

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