N & G signed up Vulture Bait, it seems like years ago (reality it was probably June), and I was intrigued enough and thought it would be fun to try, so I registered in July. It seems like so long ago, but that just shows you how much we were looking forward to this challenge. Lets just say it did not go in any way like any of us wanted it too, not one us finished for a variety of reasons, which I will quickly dive into when I start the next paragraph. Don't get me wrong we were all disappointed in the final outcome, BUT, we all had a blast getting to where we got and the experience was well worth the journey, and look out ultra world for next year, because you have not seen the last of us.
Now that I have stood on my soap box and waggled my finger in anticipation of next year and successful results, I will now dwell into the individual reasons why we did not finish this race. I do not offer these as excuses to why we did not finish, but reasons that will not deter us from our goals next year.
I will get right to the point, G had developed pneumonia the week before the run, and was put onto antibiotics 5 days prior to the run. Needless to say, running 50 kms or even 25 kms is dangerous with any type of illness, but with pneumonia it could be deadly. So G not wanting to miss out on the experience decided to run at a slower pace to the second aide station, which was slated to be about 10 kms (which ended up to be about 13.5 km), so she could at least partake and not feel like she missed what we had all been looking forward to for months. Plus this was her opportunity to test that cool running dress that she had the opportunity to critique, and damn did it look good on her, so good I thought I was seeing double (there was actually another runner that was wearing the same dress there as well, what are the odds.).
N, finished the first 25 km loop, and she was pulled off the course by one of the run coordinators because she did not make the cut off split. This happened for a variety of reasons. N, being N, was concerned about G and wanted to make sure she was ok until she pulled herself, therefore she was not keeping an eye on the time, thus they took some longer stops at the aid stations, stopped to take pictures, etc. This being said she missed the cutoff time that she would of typically had no issue making to carry on with the second loop or the final 25 km of the 50 km run. Needless to say she was a little disappointed that it worked out that way.
Now my story was a little different, I pulled myself out at the 48 km mark of the 50 km Ultra, now most people would say, why would you do that? You were almost done, why didn't you crawl to the finish line? Well, simply, at the time I didn't think I could go any further without doing some major damage to my already pulled groin. I have been involved in sports all my life, and fortunately I had never pulled my groin, and knowing some friends that have pulled theirs and carried on doing some serious damage and they have never been the same. At the time I didn't think it was worth it, so I decided it was time to stop. Now that I have gone over and over the circumstances in my head, I am kicking myself for that decision, because I think I could of finished, but what is done is done, no regrets. At the time I had just finished a combination of 14 kms of walk/runs post groin pull, after running 34 km of real trails (not your typical Manitoba defined trails), that included lots of hills, switchbacks, creek crossings, lots of leave covered rocks and roots and a variety of running surfaces and some of the most gorgeous scenery that you can witness on this type of run. We also had to dodge mountain bikers and hikers coming from in front and behind, which at times was a challenge in itself on some of the narrow and cliff edge trails, where there was barely enough room for one runner at times. Let us not forget I ran the first 34 km barefoot and wearing a kilt, and I had the time of my life.
On to the run report:
It was a perfect day for a run, blue skies, temperatures sitting around 4 degrees Celsius at start time, and barely a breeze blowing, just enough to not allow the air to get stagnant. N and I arrived at the Fanshawe Conservatory Park at around 8:10 am to meet G who had drove down from Toronto that morning with her husband. After a bit of coordinating to find each other, we headed to the starting area to pickup our timing chips and get ready to partake in the day of fun to come. I will be honest I did get some looks as I was walking around in my kilt and VFF's , and the only thing that was coming to my mind, was "What are they going to think when I take the VFF's off and start running barefoot?" This kind of brought a smile to my face, and I just carried on doing what I usually do before a run, a couple of stretches and just trying to loosen up a little. Here we were, 3 odd ducks( a girl in a pair of VFF's (N), another girl in a dress (G) and a guy in a kilt and soon to be bare feet (yours truly)), standing among some really serious ultra marathon runners, were we nervous, not really we were there to have some fun. It was a little nippley out so we decided to go into the pavilion to warm up, they had a couple of wood stoves going, perfect for warming up the feet.
This is the table that we felt was meant for us, we almost missed the starting gun as we had to get a couple of pictures off the start.
And the gun goes off and we are off (can you spot any of us in this picture)
Final warning for the start of the race was called as we were still scrambling around trying to get last minute pictures, gee who would of guessed, as about 30 late comers (including us), high tailed it out of the pavilion and down the hill to the starting area. There was slightly over 300 runners total between the 25 km and 50 km distances, so it was a good variety. Of course we moved towards the back of the pack (one of these days I will have to position myself better), and I proceeded to get a couple of comments about the kilt and the VFF's, so to add to the drama, I bent over to take the VFF's off, to a hushed chorus of, "He's not really going to run bare foot is he?" Yes, Yes I am, I was bound and determined to complete at least half of the 50 as bare as can be (insert dramatic music for effect here). The grass at the start area is longer, and still moist from the morning dew, actually quite a pleasant feeling on the bare feet, not to cold, just right, I had a feeling this was going to be a great day for a run (boy was I in for a shock). I turned my Garmin on (so I thought), turned my I-pod on to get focused, and waited for the mass of runners to start moving to facilitate the start of the race. I didn't have to wait long, I got moving into a good pace setting myself up behind a couple of runners who were slowly slicing through the crowds ahead. This worked very well, until the pack thinned out, and I was able to settle into a 6:30 min/km, not to fast but a good pace until I figured out what type of terrain I would be facing.
The first portion of the trail started with some open areas to allow the runners to position themselves a little easier before the break into the more restrictive trail portions of the course. We ran towards the camp ground areas (this was where I realized my garmin had not started after almost 2 kms, which I quickly rectified) and thru some quick trails and out onto the access road prior to heading down some old tractor trails. By this point the runners were thinning out as the quicker runners distanced themselves from the intermediate runners (more my speed) and the slower runners. By the time we hit the first aide station at the 5km mark, I had fielded numerous questions about my bare feet from runners and volunteers alike.
Overall I had a lot of comments like you have to have tough feet, or wow that is crazy I wish I could do that.