Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Creemore Vertical Challenge: Race Report

I have been very deliquent in posting my race report, and I apologize, but Hubs and I are on vacation this week, and wireless is not always easy to find in cottage country. Thanks to all of you who congratulated me on my first ultra. I was very touched! It was truly an amazing experience.

The Creemore Vertical Challenge was an off-road event that had a 25K or 50K distance option. The race took place just south of the tiny town of Creemore, located near the south western tip of the Geogarian Bay in Ontario, Canada. Many American readers will have likely heard of the Niagra Escarpment that starts New York State, through Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. Well this escarpment, my friends, was a part of the Creemore









Challenge. And heavy on the incline.

The challenge takes place in the Creemore, Ontario, a quaint, and pretty farm town in Southern Ontario, probably best known for its brewery, Creemore Springs.

Yes, there was ice-cold Creemore beer at the finish line.

The race is small, with only about 115 runners, and fairly evenly split between 25K and 50K participants. Hubs and I decided to make a mini holiday out of it, and drove up the day before the race and stayed in Collingwood. Its only about 2 hours from our house, but I really don't like getting up and driving any long distance the morning of a race. So we decided to stay at the Westin in Collingwood. It is a beautiful hotel, the only problem being that there was a live band playing in the Blue Mountain village across from our hotel until 2 am. Oh well. I never sleep well before a race anyway, and I wasn't planning on "racing" this anyway, my goal was just to complete as preparation and to gain confidence for the upcoming Jay Challenge.

The morning of the race, Hubs and I arrived and picked up my race kit. One thing that I thought was special was that the race started and finished at the race directors house, so clearly the race director was passionate about the event. Since it was a small event the race didn't start until everyone had a chance to use the porta-potty and line up at the start line. How many races can boast that? There was also a real shotgun to start the race, which literally had me almost running back to the lue to check my pants when it went off! LOL. I guess I'm never that close to the start in most races. Here are a few before race pictures.

As promised, the course was very hilly. It was a 25K hourglass loop. Although the race was as advertised, 50% road, 50% trail, the roads were all very bumpy, gravel, not well-travelled roads. They were also very exposed to the Sun, so I found it to be a relief when I was running in the trails as opposed to the roads, which surprised me. Here are a few on the course photos:

I started off nice and slow. I followed cues from other ultra runners, which meant walking up all hills. There was really little choice in this, as the inclines were steep. There were sections where the soil was highly eroded and full of loose clay and rock. In some sections there were ropes available to assist runners in making it up the inclines, so it really was an off-road event. It made maneuvering very challenging at times. I absolutely loved it! I found I was rarely bored with running as I was always looking for a technique to tackel a given hill or geological obstruction.

I finished my first loop in 3 hours, 15 minutes. I actually ran an extra 2K on the first loop when I was instructed but a volunteer to turn right, so I did as did about 15 other runners ahead of me. There were runners passing me on the way back so I thought it was just an out and back loop. Finally one group of runners told me I was going the wrong way. What?!!? Now I certainly was not in the race to compete in any way, but it did kinda of bother me that several runners passed before letting me know I was going the wrong way. Do I really look like a threat?! LOL. I just chalked it up to "mental training" for Jay. Hubs said several of the leading runners were very upset as there were several runners who took short cuts (unintentionally I think). The course was not heavily marshalled, but the entry fee was low, so I didn't mind. Incidently, I did notice a few runners that I passed in the first loop finish before me, but maybe they passed me and I missed them, but you kinda of got to know everyone's face in the race, so I don't think so. There were shortcuts that were possible on the course (don't think I didn't think about it late in the race!!) Does anyone know, is this common in these types of events? Maybe some people short cutted the second loop to make up for the extra distance on the first loop?

I continued to run slow and steady, as though I was running a training run. During the second loop, the Sun was really beating down, so I slowed and took breaks at the aid stations. The hardest part was between kms 30 and 40. In fact just finishing was a challenge, I definately struggled in points and contemplated not finishing. My objective for this race was two fold: 1) To finish my first ultra and 2) to have my longest run ever to prepare myself for Jay (which will likely take 10 hours).

I accomplished both. There were times that I wanted to quit because of the Sun, and there were times that I felt like going faster, but I really held back. I actually ran the last 8 kms very strong, and I finished the run in 7 hours, 17 minutes. I was very pleased. I didn't even have quad soreness the next day, which has never happened to me before.

The medal for the race was handmade out of local clay, and it is one of the nicest medals I have collected to date. After the race, there was a fresh water creek to cool down in and wash the mud/salt/sweat away. Notice how I didn't even take my Garmin or fuel belt off before taking the plunge? :) Nothing has ever felt better!!

I really enjoyed this race and I can't wait for the upcoming Jay Challenge on July 26th.
As for this week in training, its kinda of helter skelter. I won't post definite plans as I'm on holidays, but I will do some mileage. A return to Yasso's next week! Have a great day and thanks for reading!!


Anonymous said...

It was looking like a real hot day on the backroads. Somehow you did it. Congratulations!

Steve Stenzel said...

NICE RUN!!! And way to work in a few extra miles!!!

Lily on the Road said...

Hey, who was there taking all the picutes???

I'm going to read through in a little bit but congrat's again!!!

Run for the Toad, next year!!!

Lily on the Road said...

Okay, I'm back, geez you're going to think I'm stalking your blog...nope, just had something burning on the BBQ...LOL.

Great JOB, that is an awesome report...good for you. As for the speedy speedster's hmmm, maybe they did cut some corners...what good is that? They only lie to themselves....

Glad you and Hubs had a nice vacay...again, GRRRRREEEAAATTT Job!

Kim said...

Great report! Fun pictures!

Hope you are enjoying your holiday. Sounds like a blast in the cottages!

I don't think it's normal in trail running for people to take short cuts...even if they steered you in the wrong direction the first loop I wouldn't think you would have the 'right' to just say-I'm going to take off 2K and not have everyone do it...ya know. And Laurel is right-they only cheated themselves.

I think part of the reason you weren't sore the next day is because you dove in that cold stream when you were finished. That's the best thing for you!

Enjoy the rest of your vacation.

Meg said...

Great job! That looks like a cool race with the different terrain, small group, unique medal, and stream at the end!

Marcy said...

CONGRATS CHICA!! AWESOME AWESOME JOB!! I love the pic (towards the end) where you're standing there with a look of relief on your face LOL. It's a very telling photo. Sounds like it was a great race!

I was wondering the same as Lily too :P

Anonymous said...

I was there too... only did 25k(26.5k) as I was just out for a great trail. The course was not greatly marked and the race Director did apologize and will make efforts to improve it next year.As for the speedsters ahead of you: ( I believe I was one of the people who shouted to several people- "you are going the wrong way") As for those faster people out in front - they are so focussed and they ARE racing , they probably didn't even notice anyone else.Yes they finished fast because they trained hard. Some of these guys do 25 ks of hills on a Saturday, then go out for a 20 miler on Sunday and then if it is a long weekend,A trail run on the Monday 25k again. Some of these faster people run 50 k every other Saturday and get up and Run on Sunday too ( an easy 20k) I passed some of these 3:30 marathoners too, and then they passed me, or I passed them. Some people are very skilled and trained to run in muddy hilly steep , even dangerous parts of a trail like that - and they gain a lot of time and finish quickly because they've worked harder than you and I, and they PUSHED hard in the race:(And they're probably intrinsically faster than you and I)- Not because they skipped some loops on purpose to win. I know, because I train sometimes with some of these guys and gals.Next Race DIRTY GIRLS in August! Not to be missed! Happy trails!

Nitmos said...

Pretty cool event and medal too! That looks like fun. I wonder why all of these challenging races are so sparsely attended. These are the ones you always remember the most after all.

Marci said...

Thanks for all of the nice comments. To the anonymous poster, I certainly don't consider myself fast and I realize how instrinsically better many of these runners are. I wasn't in this race to beat anyone. Thats was I found it comical when they could spare a breath to tell me I was heading the wrong way - do I appear to be a threat?!It was my first ultra ever and I expected to finish near the back. Heck thats where I lined up. I certainly got the time and result I deserved on hard training on my part as well (OK maybe not 50K every other weekend, but my first real trail run was about 4 weeks ago and I've never ran over marathon distance before). Like I said, maybe I didn't notice people pass me again, and it wasn't a ton, only a few, none of these ultra competitive types you are mentioning. I wasn't trying to discredit anyone for their awesome performance. Thanks for your comment and I'm sorry if it was taken in the wrong way.
P.S - Are you the woman that was dressed in winter clothes? If so, I remember you yelling - and you did help many take a right turn. The part I am referring was the 14K/17K marker right vs down the hill. My hubby was a spectator who reported about some of the lead runners being upset about this and other course cuts.

Ben, aka BadBen said...

Good job! Keep on running trails!

Marlene said...

Sounds like a great event! I actually have family from Creemore and used to play on their farm. :p Love that medal.

Excellent report! I am in awe. Congrats again!!

Bob Gentile said...

ice-cold Creemore beer!!
Any Ultra that ends with Cold Local Beer is a Good Ultra :-)

CONGRATS Marci on ur first Ultra, sounds like you did great and also had some good mental tests, river dip and no quad soreness afterwards (you will have to teach me that trick-lol) and getting lost --(which can be a huge mental downer--I read a report last year a guy got lost for 2 hours and had to turn around--YIKES but He finished, now that was a Huge mental battle huh)

Hope to see u guys on future trail runs, recover well !!

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