Dirty Feet Vernon 21 km Race Report

On Sunday I did another 21 km trail race with two friends. This race was put on by the Dirty Feet series, which is based in Kamloops but does races all over the Interior-Okanagan. In the past few years I have done every single one of their races (Kamloops, Kelowna and as of Sunday Vernon) and I have also done all their distances (they offer 5 km, 10 km and 21 km). You can see all these reports on my race recap page.

If you are in the area I highly recommend checking out one of their races. The shorter distances are great for beginner trail runners and it is just this year that I’ve ventured into the 21 km category – tackling the half distance during their first race of the season in March.

Sunday morning my friend Carmine picked me up bright and early and we headed to my friend Tara’s house to meet her and make the 1 hour, 20 minute drive to Vernon for the 9 am race start. We got there just in time to eat a little more food, change and walk to the start to get our packages. Right before the start they told us that a black bear had been spotted on the trail that morning and also to watch out for rattlesnakes – especially if they are in the coiled position. Great! The rattlesnakes honestly freaked me out more than the bear.

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Soon after this picture was taken we were off! The first part of this race was REALLY hard for me. There was some pretty steady climbing at the beginning and my calves and ankles were really really sore. I went to the chiropractor last Wednesday and got my ankles and feet worked on and unlocked and I think that actually played against me in the race because they hurt for the first 6 – 7 km before they finally warmed up.

Mile 1- 12:34, Mile 2 – 12:39, Mile 3 – 13:40, Mile 4 – 18:27, Mile 5 – 14:12

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One thing about trail running is you are always rewarded for your hard climbing and hard work with beautiful views and this race did not disappoint.

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After the first aid station we went into some really nice shaded technical trails that I think will be a lot like Squamish. I still didn’t really have my “groove” on at this part and just felt kind of anxious and not relaxed at all. This is something I will need to work on for Squamish. Not getting to anxious or in my head too much and just relaxing.

Mile 6 – 11:05, Mile 7 – 15:00, Mile 8 – 14:30, Mile 9 – 16:17, Mile 10 – 15:10

Something that was really hard for me during this race was that a lot of it was not at all shaded and it was a very, very hot day. I literally could feel my face turning beet red within 30 minutes of the race starting!! I know the weather is more out of my control than anything but I’m really hoping for an overcast day at Squamish because the heat really messed with me.

You can tell by this picture that there was barely a cloud in the sky!

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It was about 16 km in that I decided to let Tara and Carmine go. I had been trailing them for most of the race but it was at that point I decided to stop even trying to keep up. I was still with about five other people at that point and managed to pass them all on the big climb we had around km 15 – 16 (miles 9 – 10). This was actually pretty encouraging for me because it showed me that my training has been working since when other people were losing steam near the end I was able to keep a steady pace.

We climbed and climbed for what felt like forever. In this picture you can see the road we started at below us! I started to lose steam at the top of this hill and knew I needed some fuel but the real food I had in my pack did NOT sound appetizing. Luckily I had a gel from the race pack and I took that even though I haven’t really been using gels lately. It gave me the boost I needed to finish the race.

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Well what goes up must come down! After the intense climb we had a lot of downhill. I am more of a downhill runner than uphill so I just let myself go and ripped down the hill. My quads were feeling the pounding by the bottom though. That is when the race really started to drag because after the HUGE downhill there was a lot of zig zagging and a few little flat spots on a wide road-type trail that I just couldn’t force myself to run. The heat was really beating me up out there.

I came around a corner near the end and saw Tara’s pink shirt ahead of me so I put the pedal to the metal to catch up with her and we crossed the finish line together!

Mile 11 – 11:44, Mile 12 – 13:30, Mile 13 – 9:58, Mile 13 – 13.05 – 8:34

Final RunKeeper Stats: 

13.05 miles / 21 km — 2:59:10 — 13:44 / mile pace & 8:32 / km pace — 3,267 feet elevation gain 

It was a great race and excellent training for Squamish. I admit I started to have some serious second guesses about Squamish about halfway through this race when I was feeling really crappy but I think a lot of that had to do with the hot sun and minimum shade. I am really hoping Squamish will have a lot more shade than this race though I do know there are some non-shaded parts there too. My fingers are super crossed for an overcast day on August 10!!

Once the race was actually over I felt really good and like I could have ran more. I also found I really got more into my groove when I was alone. When people were in front of me or right behind me I felt a bit anxious like I had to catch up to them or speed up so I wasn’t slowing the person behind me down. When I was out on the single track trails on my own I didn’t feel any of that anxiety or pressure and was just running and loving it!

I am still feeling pretty nervous for Squamish, and like I might be a bit undertrained, but I’m going to be on my feet for close to 6 hours this weekend so that will be the real test for me. Hopefully it goes well…

Question of the day: Would you rather see a bear or a rattlesnake on the trail? 

14 Responses

  1. I am glad you had a great race experience and learned some things about yourself in the process, like the fact that you prefer solo running as it puts less pressure on you. I do hope Squamish is magically a cooler day or that the course has more shade! I do know that you can do this, but I also understand how daunting this all is!!

    Gosh, I do not know what i would rather see. I am terrified of snakes, so maybe that would be worse than a bear, although there is probably a better chance of me dying if I see a bear as at least I can probably outrun a snake… the bear? Probably not. Yikes!

  2. Stephany says:

    Way to go on another strong race! I will be crossing fingers and toes that August 10 dawns overcast. 🙂 Hot and shadeless races are HARD.

    I think I would have probably felt more scared of the rattlesnakes, too. The bear IS scary but I feel like they leave you alone if you leave them alone? Maybe? I mean, I wouldn’t want to find out the hard way or anything! Ha. But snakes are creepy and EVERYWHERE and you have to be so careful of them!

  3. Lindsey says:

    Sounds like a great race! I miss racing, it is so fun 🙂
    Even though I hate snakes I think it would be safer to see one running than a bear!

  4. Bronwyn says:

    Congrats on such an awesome race! 🙂 What a gorgeous trail area. I’d way rather see a bear, I feel like you wouldn’t see the rattlesnake until it was too late.

  5. Leigh says:

    Nice job Amber!! I would rather see a bear….snakes completely freak me out

  6. Nora says:

    Way to go on the run! I am continually in awe of you =)

    I’m thinking a rattlesnake because maybe I could avoid it better? I’m not a fan of snakes but I know I couldn’t outrun a bear so that’s kind of a tough question to answer.

  7. Caroline says:

    I would rather see neither a bear nor a snake.. does that count? haha just kidding. I’d rather see a bear, I guess. I feel like I have a better shot of running away from one, but that could be a completely naive statement of mine haha.

    I have serious race envy after looking at those photos, omg.. I wish we had trails like those over here! So beautiful. I’m sorry the heat got to you, I am SO bad at running in the heat. It definitely cost me in my marathon but just not focusing on it helped somewhat. Don’t let this race get in your head about Squamish, so much of running is mental and you’re going to do great!

  8. […] Vernon 21 km Dirty Feet race! This was a great race. I loved running on new trails for a […]

  9. Awesome!! I think trail running would be so much more fun than running in the city. I’d much rather see a rattlesnake – I love snakes!

  10. […] week I asked if you’d rather run into a bear or a rattlesnake on the trail this morning I kind of got to test drive that question in real […]

  11. Travel Spot says:

    Wow, those are some beautiful views! I love it after you climb to the top when you get rewarded with such an awesome view. That makes the climb all worth it!

    Rattlesnake! For sure. They are smaller and I can avoid them more easily! Plus I have run into them plenty of times so they are not as scary to me.

  12. […] to say that my training partner-in-crime Carmine, who you’ve seen featured in blog posts here and here, was able to enter a last minute lottery to get into the race and she GOT IN! We have done […]

  13. […] won’t do an official race report on this one. It was another Dirty Feet half (my third this year!) and was fabulously organized on some of the best trails Kamloops has to offer. It was also a nice […]

  14. […] we were off! The course started with some pretty serious climbing. We actually went backwards from the 21 km race I ran last summer in Vernon and climbed the hill we came down in that race. For the first 4-5ish km we climbed and climbed and […]