On Sunday, September 1 I ran what will likely be my last trail race of the season and it was the PERFECT way to wrap up my season. Great friends. Beautiful weather. Ran and chatted with a good running friend for the entire race. An AWESOME local race that I would recommend to anyone and everyone. So much fun!
But let’s back up.
One of my good running friends, Tara, is married to Chris – a super awesome runner/ultramarathoner who gave me tons of great advice during my own ultra training. He also happens to be the race director of his own awesome ultra that happens in Kamloops every Labour Day weekend. The Walk in the Park race. I’ve mentioned this local loop many, many times during my training especially during my Test Run post when I tried to do two loops of the course but only made it 1 and 3/4 due to running out of water.
Sunday was the race and after a bit of waffling back and forth over whether I should do 1 loop (18 km) or 2 loops (36 km) I ultimately decided on 1 loop because I just hadn’t been running much since Squamish and I knew that while I *may* have had it in my physically to do the two loops, I knew I didn’t have it in me mentally. That is one thing about a loop course like this – it can be extremely mentally tough. Especially the people running 54 km by doing three consecutive loops of the same course!
I did have three good running friends running the two loops though (training partner in crime Carmine and friends Norman and Sam!)
Because of the three different distances the starts were staggered by two hour intervals. So I came by at 9 am to cheer these three on at the start and then went home to get ready for my own race.
Race photographer and runner extraordinaire Dirk Handke (seriously, this guy did two loops of the race AND finished quick enough to snap most people’s finish photos) grabbed this picture of me when I was in spectator mode at the 36 km start.
Anyways, enough rambling. Maybe I should get to my actual race report. After seeing off the above three superstars I went home and changed into my running clothes and got ready for my own race. My mom actually picked me up to take me to the race since she volunteered a couple hours in the afternoon at the aid station! I guess crewing for us at Squamish got her hooked
I planned to just run the race with my friend Tara and not worry about time at all. I’ve ran this loop many many times but it changes direction every year and this year it was the harder (in my opinion) direction and we always did the opposite direction in our training. It starts with a pretty decent climb and then you get a nice downhill again before climbing more. Then more downhill, more climbing, a nice flat-ish trail that runs along the side of the mountain and then more climbing again. Oh, and did I mention that the entire first 8ish km of the course there is almost NO shade? And that it was about 28 C (82 F) without a cloud in the sky? Yup. It was hot and that was definitely the most challenging part of this race for me.
Here is a great photo that volunteer Wes snapped as we pulled into the aid station at 8 km. I got to see my mom at this point and she put some peppermint oil on mine and Tara’s shoulders to keep the bugs off of us and refresh us a bit.
After the aid station we go into my favourite 4ish km of the course, a nice little out and back on a relatively flat, SHADED trail. After that we pass through the aid station one more time. At this point Tara and I stopped to chat for a bit, fill up our water and etc. We were really just taking it easy which I thoroughly enjoyed and needed. After the aid station we entered what is usually my least favourite part of the loop, the Mesa trail, it’s about 3 km of desert-y, dusty open trail. You do get a really pretty view of Kamloops Lake but other than that it’s definitely not my favourite trail. However, Tara and I were chatting away and it actually went by super quickly.
Then it was time for The Ridge. The way we had been running the loop during training you go down the ridge, but for this race you climb it. And it’s A CLIMB. Here is one of the photos I snapped looking back over part of it during training:
Beautiful yes, but one heck of a climb! After what seems like forever but is probably only about 20 minutes of climbing you arrive at the Tower, which is the highest point in Kenna and it’s (almost) all downhill from there.
Chris had two self serve aid stations set up in addition to the fully stocked aid station with volunteers and he made sure to have ICE cold water at those self serve aid stations. I have never had water hit the spot before the way it did at that self serve aid station after The Ridge climb in the heat of the day (it was about 1 pm at that point)!
Tara and I were both feeling kind of done but we just kept running and chatting. We chatted almost non-stop during this race and they claimed they could hear us coming long before they could see us coming at the aid station. Ha!
Before we knew it we could see the finish!
We ended up finishing the 18 km loop in 2:43:11, which I’m really happy with. However I cannot imagine doing that loop again and then AGAIN. I didn’t feel like I really pushed myself super hard out there, but I wasn’t out there to push hard I was just out there to run with a friend, have fun and support an awesome local race.
Afterwards I got changed, settled in and waited for my friends to finish. About 25 minutes after we finished I saw my friend Sam coming and noticed she was walking so I ran up the small hill at the beginning to meet her and run her down. Turns out she was fine but just ready to be done! She crushed the course in 5 hours! Sam just ran her first marathon in Vancouver in May and is an amazing natural runner. I was super proud of her!
I continued to wait for Carmine and Norman to come and got a tad worried because a few people who had seen them mentioned that Carmine had not been her usual smiling self out here. Apparently she was smiling and more upbeat during our 50 km than she was during this race! I ate and waited and pretty soon saw them coming down the hill. I ran to the finish to cheer them in!
They finished really strong but you could tell Carmine was done with the race! I think I would have felt the same way if I were her. The loop mentality is REALLY difficult, especially a loop like this one that is not very shaded and it was an extremely hot day. I think going from point to point, in the tall trees so you couldn’t really see how far you had to go, at Squamish was mentally easier than doing a multiple loop race.
Either way, it was a super fun day and a great day for a run. I had so much fun hanging out with all my trail running friends and felt such a huge surge of LOVE for this amazing trail running community I have immersed myself in this year.
I would highly recommend this race to anyone. It’s a tough course but if you put in the training t it would be the perfect first trail race. And honestly, I guarantee you will not find a cheaper race out there. My race entry fee (since I signed up early) was $12. TWELVE DOLLARS. And that included my post run burger. Can you even buy a burger at restaurant for $12? I also won a pair of socks as a door prize so my entry really did pay for itself. I will definitely be back out there in 2014 since it was so much fun!
What’s the cheapest race you’ve ever ran? Do you find point-to-point, out and back, or loop courses harder? Point to point courses are definitely my favourite, followed by loop (but preferably only one loop!) and finally out and backs are my least favourite kind of race ever!