Going Long – Race Recap: 5 Peaks Kortright Centre Enduro Course

To ultra-runners, the distance of the Enduro courses at 5 Peaks events are laughable.  But to me, it’s the longest I’ve gone on a trail (with all the hills) and longer than most training runs to do 10 km.  


And then I found out that it would be more like 13km.  I was still looking forward to the race until I heard thunder rolling in as I was trying to get the Lightning Kid to sleep.
That should read “… don’t *want* a thunderstorm..”
With rain forecasted for the day, we decided to keep the kids home.  I was already nervous about how they’d behave for their mom when I was out running for twice as long as I usually do, and I didn’t think the Kortright Centre had as much to offer as Heart Lake or Albion Hills (like splash pads).  In the end, the weather ended up not being so bad, but hindsight is twenty-twenty.

I picked out the absolute worst pair of running shorts I could for the day, but I think they were the only clean ones I had available.

  1. I worried that they’d soak water like a sponge
  2. It turns out the elastic is worn out and I had to pull them up continuously while running (sorry about the plumber-butt anyone running behind me!)
  3. They chafe the insides of my thighs.
I got to the race, picked up my bib and timing chip, then lost the latter while standing in line for the porta-potty.  Luckily, it was recovered and announced so I got it back.  Before the race I found Jessica of Laces and Lattes, as well as Robyn Baldwin and her friend Allegra. Robyn is a big fan of Shark Boy and the Lightning Kid, but she took it well when she found out they wouldn’t be there.  She and Allegra were in the wave ahead of me, but I managed to get a shot of them doing Robyn’s patented “The Face”.
 

The rain from the night before made the course wet and slippery, so we were warned to take it easy on hills, bridges, boardwalks, whatever.  I was determined to take the pace easy, to make sure I was able to finish strong anyway.  Taking it easy also meant I had the opportunity to take nice pictures, and with a 2 loop Enduro course, I had 2 chances to get pictures of notable sights.

I wouldn’t have predicted that the Kortright Centre (to which we’ve been for Maple Syrup festivals before) would have some of the nicest sights of the 5 Peaks series, but have a look.



There were some hills on this course, and I’m pretty proud of how I handled all of them.  Early on, of course, I was feeling strong and passed people who chose to walk.  Then I encountered what the hilarious Erin Dasher (race director and announcer) described as a “water feature”.  There’s a saying (or rather more of an excuse/rationalizaiton) in Engineering Development: “It’s not a bug! It’s a feature!”  That’s what this reminds me of…


I think I could have balanced on those railings to get across dry, but that honestly felt like cheating, so I got wet feet like everybody else.  Between the wet shoes and fatigue (especially on the second loop) some of the hills gave me a very heavy feeling in my legs, which reminded me of a hard brick workout… which is a good thing, I suppose.

If you look closely you can see some of the network of tubing to bring the sap from the trees on the right side of the picture.
I not only saw the Kortright Centre’s maple syrup facilities, but also learned of their Raptor Centre (for the Canadian Peregrine Foundation).  I couldn’t get too close to the cages (sorry about the poor photos), but in addition to peregrine falcons they had a bald eagle and a great horned owl that actually went: “HOO… HOO”.  We’ll have to bring the kids once.

HOO



I mentioned I wanted to finish strong, but in spite of taking a Clif gel on the second lap and Gatorade being available on the course, my pace simply had to slack on the second lap.  Still, on the last kilometer I started getting aggressive.  I passed 2 runners on the final, biggest hill.  There was a contest to name the hill and someone came up with “S.O.B” which stands for Shortness of Breath (not that other thing).  I never submitted my suggestion which was “Hill-o, I hate you won’t you tell me your name” (sung to the tune of the old song by The Doors, with option second verse Hill-o, I hate you, you drive me insane).  As I crested the hill I saw two younger ladies who seemed to be easily prancing like pixies through the forest.  I must stress that this was a false impression that was brought on by pain and exhaustion, but I sprinted to the finish to catch them both (tying the faster of them at the finish line).  You know, like the spiteful jerk that I am. I’d like to think Robyn and Allegra’s cheers helped me achieve that final sprint.

For once I didn’t have to dash away from the race, and I managed to snag a cup of coffee (well after eating my post-race bagel, banana and cookie).  I forgot to add my bib number to the draw, and my finish time put me in 3rd last of my age category, so sticking around for the awards ceremony didn’t have much point, but at least I got to witness the shoe toss challenge (for the prize of a Suunto GPS watch).


It never did rain, so it was really a magnificent day and an appropriate end to my trail running season.

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