Monday, 8 October 2018

Atlantic Adventures at Advocate Harbour

My first ultra of the 2018 fall season was a "baby" ultra, 48K in Nova Scotia. We were staying over an hour's drive away, so we had to make two trips out to Cape Chignecto, once on Saturday for Greg's 6K and the kid's 1K and again on Sunday for the ultra.

Greg on the Red Rocks.

For once, I got up early enough to eat and coffee properly, and we were off.  The race started at 6:30, the first hour would be in the dark.  Suddenly I saw:
I own 30 running skirts and someone shows up wearing the same one? WTF?!
A runner saw me trying to pull my feet 
out of this muck, laughed his ass off, pulled out 
his phone, and took my picture.
Eric, the RD, announced that the course would be out and back instead of the posted loop due to some trail wash out, and also the cutoff times for various checkpoints.  I was not worried - 12 hours for 48K? Although the course was twice as hilly as Sulphur 50K, I had done a technical 25K hike in 6 hours in this training cycle. But I had also focused on speed and less hills, and there are NO hills like these in southern Ontario! The race began with a long but not too steep hill, then some relatively runnable singletrack. I met up with Don from Alberta, whose son B totally hit it off with on Saturday.  He had poles that helped him get up some hills where I had to use my hands. There was a downhill so long and steep that I had to mince down and I thought about having to go up that hill late in the race on the way back and got slightly ill thinking about it. I heard from a park employee later that particular hill is 1.5K long and a 40% incline. We had 2 hours to get to the first checkpoint at 8K. I got there in 1:53.  I was dreading having to run 40K more if the rest of the course was like the beginning and to be honest, if I hadn't travelled so far for this race, I would almost have been glad to miss the cutoff already.  I exited the AS with Don and ran the next few kms with him, which was the most runnable part of the course. There was 4 hours to get to the AS at halfway. Then it got muddy. REALLY muddy. Many puddles that were calf deep or more. I wondered aloud to Don where the leaders were - I wasn't looking forward to constantly having to step aside to let them pass. Turns out, everyone was really spread out, and this section was full of deep mud puddles, hills and technical rocks and roots, so even the race leaders weren't running. 
and clean(er).

Don and I caught up with a couple.  The girl was strangely clean, she was wearing black tights with no mud splatters, and you could still tell what colour her shoes were. We passed them as the guy chose to break thick tree branches to avoid a puddle, and Don went ahead when I stopped to take a quick picture. At about 21K, I ran out of water.  I asked runners on the back stretch if the AS was fairly accurately at 24K, and everyone said yes. One very kind runner emptied one of his bottles into my pack. At this point there was still 30-40 min to the halfway cutoff. At 23K, I asked if the AS was just around the corner. "Oh, about 20 min away." FUCK. I ran as fast as I could but the terrain just did NOT let me go very fast. Past 24K on my watch with 3 minutes left to cutoff, I saw Don, "keep going, the AS is about 400 m away!" Well I can run 400 m in 2 minutes on the track, not through a muddy forest.  My watch showed exactly 25K when I finally found the AS, and I was about 2 minutes over the cutoff. "Game over?" I greeted the volunteers. "Game over." they replied. 

I am not terribly upset with the DNF. I felt like my head really wasn't in it, chasing cutoffs right from the get go meant that it would catch up with me sooner or later and my training this summer (more speedwork, less hills) did not adequately prepare me for this race.  Time to regroup for The Beav 50K in 4 weeks.

1 comment:

  1. Been in that area, the trail sounds like some of the nastier terrain. A shame but the next race will bevbetter.