Run Ridge Run 25Km

Run Ridge Run 25Km February 25, 2017 2:53.43

There’s no place I’d rather be

Then with my feet and running free

Lingering under a sky so blue

And if I had one wish come true

I’d run till the sun sets

Beyond the horizon


“Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride,” from Lilo and Stitch.  Words slightly modified.  


I woke up at 5:15am and had “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” from Lilo and Stitch stuck in my head; I knew it was going to be a good day.

I rolled out of bed and sat on my floor crossed legged. I started breathing deeply.  Today I intend to be present and to check my ego at the door. My daily intention was set and my mind was calm.  I walked downstairs to make breakfast; my ego staying in my bedroom.  

The calm before the storm.

The calm before the storm.

I arrived to the race bundled up against the near freezing conditions.  Sasamat Lake had a thin sheet of ice covering its surface and rumour had it that there was even some snow on the course.  White Pine Beach was not littered with people soaking in the sun, but instead with lean athletes wrapped in puffy jackets and holding coffee.

I got my number and returned to my van to get prepared.  I felt calm and relaxed.  It is odd how when one removes the ego, that life becomes more peaceful, I thought.  

This was my first trail race and I needed to run my own race.  The ego—the part that compares, and is never satisfied—would only get in the way.  

Practicing my Baywatch run.

Practicing my Baywatch run.

After a brief warm-up I was ready to tow the line with some 300 athletes.  

I looked around and noticed that I was the only one wearing a pair of sandals.  To guard against the cold I was also wearing a pair of wool socks.  Thankfully no one objected to my choice of foot wear.  

Shoes, shoes, SANDALS!

Shoes, shoes, SANDALS!

The race began and I quickly settled into a steady rhythm.  Ihad no idea what to expect; I had run parts of the course in training, but racing was always different.  

The start wound itself around Sasamat Lake on a light gravel, rolling trail.  It was an excellent, easy start to what would become a rigorous race.  

The start is always a welcome relief. 

The start is always a welcome relief. 

The first six kilometreswere fairly non-technical with a modest amount of climbing.  On the climbs I tried my best to keep my heart rate down and the lactate acid from building up in my legs.  I was going for steady, and hopefully it would pay off.  

Soon I started to notice that I was losing a bit of ground on the incline, but I was gaining on the short downhill that followed.  Since I was not overexerting myself on the climbs, I did not need to recover on the downhills that followed; I could run them at speed.    

Afterpassing the water station I turned left—and up—to start the Diez Vista Trail; this was by far the steepest, and most technical part of the course.  

The race was a “running” race, but soon everyone was walking as each person tried to navigate the plethora of tree roots, and rocks.  People leaned over, breathing heavily as they used their hands for support on steep sections.  Iremained calm, for I knew if I could steadily complete this section then I would be home free.  

The top of the climb finally arrived, and with it, the stunning views of Indian Arm.  I diverted my attention for a fraction of a second, then promptly returned it to the course ahead of me—I needed to watch where I was going!

I was grateful for the opportunity to “run” again as the trail levelled out.  I say “run” because the course was so abundant with rocks, roots, ice, and snow, that “running” was quite challenging.  It was more like combination of skipping, tap dancing, and parkour, with a bit of running mixed in.  

Oddly this section had been my least favourite during training, but during the race it was the most enjoyable.  I found myself smiling as I tap-danced though the chilly forrest; “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” played on a continuous loop in my head.  I saw no one.  For all I knew I was on a training run, and I liked it.  I based my pace off what I felt, and nothing else.  

After a precarious decent I reached the southern side of Buntzen Lake and joined the undulatingLakeview Trail.  I ran upsome rocky, snowy, single-track as I breathed deeply and focused on my running form—legs moving smoothly, arms loose and relaxed.  

The pre-race plan had been to push the pace during this section, however, I could feel the lactate acid building in my legs.  My heart rate and breathing felt relatively comfortable, but the legs were not having it.  I recalled my intention for the day and continued at a steady rhythm as a couple of runners passed me.   

After completing the Lakeview Trail, the course returned for a little bit more fun on the Diez Vista Trail.  

The final climb was made worse by the fact that I had already been running for eighteen kilometres.  My legs were tired.  I was freezing cold and no songs sung in my head.  Everything became about getting this last, tough section done.  I buckled down and powered to the top.  

Apart from a few undulations the final five kilometres were more or less downhill.  I looked at my watched and saw that I had about three kilometres left.  I was really cold and I was ready to be done.  The joy and fun that I had experienced earlier had evaporated, and all I was left with was a numb face and tired legs.  Running can really reduce one to the most basic forms of self.    

I sprinted downhill and at times I felt my legs could not keep up to how quickly I was moving.  I dodged rocks and jumped over a fallen tree.  

A small smile broke onto my face as I laughed at the lunacy of wearing sandals, but my feet were fine.  Actually they were thriving!  After nearly twenty-five kilometres of rough terrain my feet were not even the slightest bit uncomfortable.

I returned to Sasamat Lake and had less than a kilometre left to run, however, it felt like a long way.  

The home stretch.  Cold, tired, and exhausted.

The home stretch.  Cold, tired, and exhausted.

I lifted my pace slightly as I saw the black finishing arch.  I darted across the beach and received a high-five as I crossed the finish line.  I slumped over—my hands on my knees as I sucked back air and reflected on the race.

This race was unlike anything I had ever done, and I revelled in the wonder of something so new and exciting.  Sure I had done running races, but never on a course like this.  Trail running, simply put, is next level.    

Slumped over, but feeling good.  

Slumped over, but feeling good.  

My mom came over and handed me my jacket; I was already excitedly thinking about my next race. 

The intensity is there for the next race.  

The intensity is there for the next race.  

Jason ManningComment