Ran my first 5 peaks race of the season today. I sign up for these races just for the emails from the race director, because they say things like “If you see a runner wearing headphones, please cross your arms and scowl at him/her dramatically“. I do the same to pet owners confused by the subtle difference in ON versus OFF leash areas.
The director also warned that “the veterans among you will agree that this race course features some of the rockiest, rootiest terrain in Ontario. I call it high speed hopscotch.” I ran this race last year. I agree. You may remember that my face ended up firmly planted in the rocky rooty terrain.
I ran the enduro course – about 12.3K. This year’s race, fortunately, did not end in the medical tent. It was hot and humid (a “feels like” like 33C/91F) without much air movement in the denser forest canopy, except as someone amusingly noted, the air circulation from his heavy breathing. In contrast to last weekend’s stinking sinkhole of dung, this course wasn’t muddy – it was desert dry. Apparently we are in the midst of a drought and it got -cough- dusty.
I did get hung up behind a few slower runners in a couple of single track sections, but I was impressively patient (translation, enjoyed the break) and I walked (gasp!) a couple of the steeper hills, but mostly I ran nice and steady despite my rising body temperature and impending heat stroke. I held back a bit, a sport psychologist might hypothesize I was apprehensive from last year’s gymnastics and that I’m still a bit race shy more generally. I also stopped to check on two men who bailed about 2 minutes after I passed them. They each fell on different sections of the course – one on a long boardwalk, one on the descent after a long climb. Neither, it seems, liked getting chicked and immediately sped up for a couple of minutes after I passed only to dive-bomb from the effort. Both continued on, but one will be definitely sore tomorrow. Ouch.
I spent much of the early race jockeying with one guy in particular (the heavy breathing guy mentioned above), we passed each other no fewer than 5 times until he faded away mid-race. (The third quarter I ran mostly solo and I only took two wrong turns, righting myself before going more than 5 steps.) I was surprised to see him about 400m from the end – his finishing kick was strong and he was highly motivated to catch me, but he ran out of course and I beat him to the finish. His footsteps and my friends enthusiastically yelling “don’t let him pass you” definitely won me a few extra seconds. In the end I walked away with a
shiny wooden medal to add to my gang’s mighty haul. Husband won his first 5 Peaks medal (despite his own painful brush with the dirt trail), so tonight we celebrate with an early night and a 5 am wake-up call. The long run awaits.
Side note, the “winner” (emphasis on the sarcastic air quotes) for unsportsmanlike behaviour goes to the race cretin who, about 200m into the race after it took a course marshal three tries, a short jog and a tap on the shoulder to politely (she called him sir!) ask him to remove the prohibited headphones blaring obnoxious music, responded with a “what are you going to do about it?” and plopped them back in his I-don’t-care-about-the-safety-of-anyone ears as soon as he was out of sight. Run snob comment alert: dude, you ran the sport course and if you can’t run 4.5K in woods filled with sights and sounds without music you shouldn’t be wearing a race bib. As directed I crossed my arms and scowled dramatically.
Photo Credits to the Race Director.
Title: America – Horse With No Name. 1972.