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Race Reports


UTMB - Postmortem

It's time to do a quick blog posting and officially put this one behind me, though it'll linger and sting for quite some time.

First and foremost, I DID NOT drop out of the GD race due to COLD HANDS! Let's just get that one outta the way right off the top.

The coverage the Bryon and Meghan provide to the ultra running world via iRunFar is unparalleled and they deserve to be commended, in fact I was happy to contribute one small iota to their extensive coverage by lending them my smartphone which I'd purchased a French sim card for. I met David James for the first time, a great guy as I'd been told by our numerous mutual friends, and he took my phone on a greater tour of the Mont Blanc range than my own legs would afford my body during the race itself.

Back to my point, Bryon tweeted: Gary Robbins is "ok," but likely not continuing from Les Contamines. His hand was frozen.

How that exact exchange went:

IRF: "Gary! How are you?"

Me: "I don't think I'm continuing. I'm okay though, I need you to let Linda know that please."

IRF: "Okay, I'll be sure she gets the message"

Me: as I shook his hand "Thank you"

It was another 30+ minutes before I even processed that my hands were cold. Bryon has simply added an observation to his tweet but it unfortunately read like the cause of my drop and subsequently I've answered more frozen hand questions than this guy

UTMB 2013

I'll try not to drag this out too much but when I arrived in Chamonix on August 22nd it was with a quiet confidence that I'd done absolutely all I could to show up on that starting line in the best shape of my life. I'd never strung together such consistency and stayed injury free for so long before. Including December's training for HURT I'd logged nearly 3,000 miles of training in the eight and half months leading up to my flight across the Atlantic. Included in this was a straight line focus on mountain running with the majority of those miles being on trail and over terrain similar to what would be encountered in France. My goal heading into UTMB was a top ten podium finish. I know I had the physical and mental abilities to pull this off, but in the end I never even made it out of the train station.

In the week leading up to the race I'd refreshed my mind with visits to many parts of the route.

Colorado based runner Brendan Trimboli joined me on these excursions and I was constantly amazed by how fresh and spry my legs felt, day in and day out.

Four days before race day I got a slight scare though, as all of a sudden I started sneezing and my face started leaking fluids. I hadn't been sick in over a year and it seemed unjust that anything could sideline my attempts at 'honouring my fitness' while in France. I define honouring your fitness as the constant reminder you need while digging deep in a goal race. You work so damn hard just to get to the starting line that honouring your fitness is about pushing through the lows and ensuring you stay focused on your race goals all the way to the finish line. To not honour your fitness is to quite on yourself, even momentarily during your race.

Getting sick obviously freaked me out and I started ingesting 5-6 packets of Emergen-C a day, which I always travel with. I also realized that a lot of times you can only seem to get sick when you allow a 'normal level of stress' within your body to cease. In line with this I attempted to keep my body a little physically stressed in the hopes that whatever bug was attempting to get the better of me would quickly f#@k off. It seemed to work for within 24 hours I was no longer dragging a box of tissues around with me.

Day Before Race Day

I headed out of my hotel, across the street to the Aiguille Du Midi tram parking area and then started up the trail for 30 minutes. I sat in the forest for a full half hour and cherished the relaxation that it afforded. I was confident that my mind and body were aligned and ready for the task at hand. I sauntered back down the mountain and did my best to relax for the rest of the day.

Race Day

I actually really enjoy late day start times as it allows for a full nights rest. The day itself always manages to get away from you but in the end by the time I was following Julien's coat tails into the starting chute I felt at ease with what lay ahead. I was ready to run my own race and let the course come to me. A similar effort to what Mike Foote had laid down a few years prior, while starting slow, back around 100th and climbing all the way up to 11th was the grand scheme. Anything more than that would be icing on the cake I figured.

The pre-race insanity behind us, and the race was finally underway. After protecting my space and ensuring I didn't get my legs taken out from under me I ended up settling into a pack with the top English speakers in the field. Mike, Mike, Jezz, Tony and Amy just ahead of us. I was checking our pace and happy to see we were all staying controlled at somewhere between 7 and 7.5 minute per mile pace. I had opened up Fuji in 6.5 minute per mile pace so this felt like the exact pace that would allow everyone a nice warm up run into Les Houches.

As soon as you hit Les Houches the first climb presents itself. I watched Tony and the Mike's go to work and quickly disappear and I happily settled in with Jezz, Rory and Nuria. We alternated the lead occasionally with Jezz leading the majority of the climb. As we neared the 80% point of this climb was the first true inkling that something wasn't quite right. I effectively blinked as the terrain flattened and when I awoke from my brief stupor I literally found myself thinking "How did they get a gap on me like that?"

I had taken thirty seconds to assess why the hell I was feeling so terrible and in doing so had internalized so much that I'd lost site of what had happened externally.

"Whatever" I said to myself "Just slow down if you're not feeling it. Let the race come to you"

I watched Jezz and the girls disappear and started focusing on eating. I had already been eating consistently but anytime things feel off I try to eat in the hopes that the calories are at the root of the issue.

We dropped down into Saint Gervais and I slowed further. I was letting people pass me on the descent as all of a sudden everything felt like effort, even the downhills.

I smiled my way through the aid station. Fake it till ya make it. Steal some positive energy from those around you in the hopes that it will help you rally quicker. I reminded myself that every race has its low points. You can never predict when those lows will hit and though most times they are later in the race when your mind and body are at war over if you should be vertical or horizontal, I have in fact had races where the worst of it was very early on. I slowed further and was now full on coaching myself through this.

"This is okay. It's still way early. You'll get through this. Eat. You're not even in the mountains yet, you'll feel better once you're there. There's still at least 20 hour to go, don't fret. Etc, etc, etc"

The problem throughout all of this was that I was getting continually passed. I then spotted Hara (winner UTMF) and he was favoring one hip. I knew his day was nearly done and I patted him on the shoulder as I passed him, the one runner I'd passed in the last hour.

Right about then I realized that I'd been in my head for far too long. I simply needed to externalize some of this and I needed to speak English with someone. As if right on cue a British runner pulled up alongside me and asked how I was feeling. We commiserated and reiterated that we were both feeling terrible. It was nice, nice that is right up until I uttered the words "don't let me slow you down" at which point England walked away from me as though I were towing a sled. It was back to self coaching and it wasn't getting any easier. I was effectively attempting to talk myself off of that DNF ledge. My mind flipped between the anger at the very thought of the DNF and the reality of simply attempting to figure out what was wrong with me.

Another perfectly timed interaction. This time with John Tidd, the 6th place finisher at UTMF. John was an interesting character to me. He was the only non-sponsored runner on the UTMF top ten podium and he was the first runner in Hokas, finishing ahead of their team runners. A Spaniard living in South America who luckily for me speaks perfect English. Once again he reiterated that what I was struggling through was 'normal' and he mentioned that this was his least favorite part of the race and that it was rather 'deceptive' in how it played out. I knew John was a legit top ten threat and told myself it was time to wake up and go with him. Once again though, I had zero ability to even walk/hike the same pace as these guys. My shoulders and lower back started hurting and I could feel my hamstrings tightening. Things were getting worse.

As we closed in on Les Contamines and what was looking more and more like the end of my day I made one last ditch effort to rally my way through this thing. I had yet to be caught by my buddy Brendan so I pulled aside and waited for him. I started to feel dizzy when I stopped and I was thankful that he wasn't far behind. I told him how I was feeling and he went to work on coaching me through it. We ran towards the Les Contamines aid station together and I had convinced myself that if I could just run with Brendan for awhile it might help me snap out of this, or at the very least to continue further and see what happens. As you head into Les. C there is a tiny bump of a climb up to the aid station. Brendan walked it for the bump that it was. I could not believe how difficult I was finding this rock pile and I was passed by three more runners.

I was done. There was no denying that something was off, way off. I wasn't even 20 miles into the race and I felt like I'd run a hard 50 miles.

I told Bryon I was done and shook his hand. The twitter-verse thinks I've dropped due to a frozen hand, in 20 degree weather. It's not a fun night for me, and it proceeds to get worse.

My crew is the head of the S-Lab shoe design team and the man who patented the Salomon lacing system. He does his best to get me to continue, but I'm beyond done and I know it conclusively.

I pull my bib and while Patrick stays to cheer on a few friends I lay down in his car and fall asleep. It's 8pm.

I awake thirty minutes later and stumble from the car just in time to puke in the adjacent ally. I haven't thrown up in over 18 months. I've never thrown up in a race before, in fact I'd never thrown up for anything less than severe food poisoning, far too much alcohol, or a serious bout of the flu...oh and for Typhoid Fever, I threw up that one time I had Typhoid Fever.

Patrick returned with some friends and while driving me back to Chamonix I had to ask him to pull over so that I could get sick again. He thought it might be his driving as he was flying down the windy road, it was not as I wanted him to drive faster still.

A half hour later and we were back at my hotel. I thanked them for taking care of me, apologized for feeling like I'd wasted their time, and then ran up the stairs into my room for my third and final chunder.

I collapsed on the bed and tried to will a redo into existence. Where was my mulligan? How could this have happened? How the hell was I back in bed before the lead runners had even made it to the half way point of the race?

Shit happens...or more accurately I guess, puke happens. Some things are beyond your control and you can't go beating yourself up over things that you effectively have zero control over.

What I posed on FB the day after my drop:

After a restless night where my mind wouldn't allow my body to sleep I realize that I feel a little like the sports team that makes the finals but loses out after a great year.

I am attempting to remind myself of what a great season I've had and how successful 2013 as a whole has been, with the absolute highlight still to come. As a friend just pointed out, if a DNF is the low point of 2013 than it's a pretty good year by most accounts.

I'm exhausted, surprisingly and inexplicably sore, excited to be in the Alps on a beautiful day, proud of my North American brethren and Salomon teammates for great runs all around and astounded by what Rory Bosio just pulled off (7th overall with a new CR). It's a great day for ultra running and given that a Japanese runner won UTMF, an American runner won Western States and a French runner won UTMB it's also been a rather balanced year in this world. It's an exciting time for our sport.

On a personal level, I'm now completely homesick and longing to be with my bride to be Linda Barton and our furry family of Shazzar and Roxy. I can't believe I get to marry the absolute love of my life in just fourteen days! AND that we're going to have family and friends from around the world joining us for our party 

I'm a truly fortunate soul, and that is never lost on me for even a second. I work tirelessly at creating a life that is full of joy and reward and in doing so there will always be a balance of disappointment and setbacks, but never regret. One step back, two steps forward. A bump in the road of life. Onward and upward. Thank you all for the support along the way, you make me feel blessed.

I'll have lots of positive memories from this, my second trip to France, but unfortunately the race won't be one of them. This one stings and will continue to do so for quite sometime. That's just the reality of the situation. With your greatest pursuits can come your greatest victories, and indeed your greatest disappointments.




Chuckin Nuts Race Report

This will be a bit of an abbreviated race report since I gave most of the plot away a few days ago! (This ended up being, in no way shape or form, an abbreviated race report, sorry!) Todd and I headed down to Bellingham on Friday night for Saturday's Chuckanut 50km running event. As I have blogged endlessly about, I am coming off of a serious calf injury (it was actually both calves) that pretty much kept me completely off of my feet for a full month. I was able to sustain my fitness through biking and some gym work, but overall I was very uncertain as to if I would even be able to complete this distance after coming off of just five days of 'pain free', well 'serious' pain free running.

Todd was going into his first ever ultra race! I was highly confident that Todd would do amazingly well for himself as he is an athlete with endless potential, having only really gotten started with all of this a few years ago. His best attribute heading into a distance like this is how level headed he is. It sounds so simple to be able to run your own race, but in the four years I have personally been running I have met many a seasoned runner who have never, EVER figured out how to do this successfully! Todd had a game plan and I knew he'd stick to it. That and that alone would ensure a certain level of success for him going into his first ultra.

We were fortunate enough to have stayed with fellow ultra runner Daniel Probst who lives all of ten minutes away from the start of the event. We were up at 6am and in the end thankful that the race started ten minutes late at 8:10am.

The first 9-10km of this race are almost completely flat, on a hard packed forest service road...a road runner's dream...a trail runner's nightmare! I knew that I would really have to ease into this race as the last thing I wanted on the day was to end up with a D.N.F. next to my name. About thirty minutes in and I really wasn't feeling very good at all. The hard pack was beating up my calves, and even though we were hanging back and taking it easy, I was still breathing hard and struggling to find a rhythm to my step. Todd even commented at one point that I didn't seem comfortable at all. He was right, so I dropped back even further and just tried to limit my losses over the first 10k.

Shortly before the race finally headed into the single track trails there was a turn around where you could see the runner's ahead of you. Two guys were absolutely blazing a trail at the front and I found it hard to believe that they were running 50 on the day! They were already close to six minutes ahead of me and even the second group of runner's had put over 3.5 min into me. I was sitting back somewhere in the 30's positionally and was starting to get pissed off about how my race was unfolding. My mind was playing tricks on me but I kept telling myself that there was still a very long 40km until that finish line. I decided that as soon as we reached the climbs I was gone, calf pain or not, if I was going down with a DNF on the day I was at least gonna enjoy some actual running before that happened!

We had to squeeze through a few trail posts to initiate our climb up Chuckanut Mtn, and the instant that I cleared those sticks I went to work. I have managed to develop a pretty fast power hike over the years, which really comes in handy during steep ultra running events. I was hiking faster than most people could run and went about making short work of the first climb. One thing I definitely noticed was that my body was feeling much leaner than ever before. I initially learned to power hike because it was the only way I could be effective, but I was easily running terrain that I would have been unable to tackle at those speeds in years prior. It felt amazing! The great part about it all is that not one single person that I passed even attempted to go with me. I was killing it, and loving it!

Within approximately thirty five minutes of climbing I had made up the entire 3.5 min gap on second pack of runner's. We hit a huge switch back descent and I unleashed into it with a huge smile upon my face...God I love, and missed, downhill running and racing in general. Within a few switchbacks I peered back to see that the three runner's I had just passed were already nowhere in sight.

At the bottom of this descent the race filtered us into a 5km forest service road ascent. As I popped out I heard someone yell my name! One of the most enjoyable things that Todd and I have encountered over the last few years of doing the occasional event in Washington State is that we have gotten to know a whole other group of racer's, and of course, incredible people!

I started off power hiking the climb as I was unsure as to exactly how long it went on for at the time. As I did this one of the runner's I bombed past on the descent caught up to me and looked at me in dismay,

"How? How? How do you do that! I've never seen anyone run downhill like that before!!"

I laughed and simply replied that I lived in Squamish and it was all I really knew how to do! He slowly pulled away, but I was sustaining myself against the other runner's who were in sight, all of whom were of course attempting to run the hill. After a few minutes of power hiking and then chatting with a fellow competitor to determine what lay ahead, I realized that I could indeed run out this hill and hence drop a few more people. I went to work, quickly caught the guy I had traded spots with, and picked up another three spots. By the time we departed this climb in favor or more single track running I had managed to work my way back up to 15th place! I had gained somewhere in the vicinity of twenty positions in just under one hour of focused running! I WAS LOVING IT, and was definitely back in race mode, counting positions and shooting for the highest placing I could still salvage.

This mid section of the run was along a ridge line and then up and over the steepest climb of the entire 50km. We ended up in the fog a little, but you could really tell that this would be an incredibly scenic area on a clear day. Worth mentioning is that it was absolutely hammering down rain as we drove to the starting line. The race started, the rains seized and we got away with a completely dry...well dry from above, day of racing!

The field was obviously more spread out as I continued to gain position, and I ended up running quite a portion of this section in 'no man's land' (no one to chase, no one to run from). I slowly picked off a few more people and was surprised that not a single runner attempted to come with me. Usually when you pass someone in a race, at the very least, they come along with you for some period of time.

There was a ton of mud on the course, especially in this section, but none of it was really that deep, and certainly did not even compare to Knee Knacker 2005 'The Year Of The Mud', or anything you would encounter upon the West Coast Trail or The Juan De Fuca Trail. I was surprised to hear some people complaining about it's a trail race, we love mud!!

As this middle section of the run flattened out a bit my calves once again flared up on me. I was starting to slow a bit and told myself that I had ten minutes. If the pain got worse, I was done. If it subsided, I'd continue...but either way, I had to pick up the pace and continue trying to track people down. As soon as this flat section led into another climb my calves shut the hell up on me and I was able to forget about them. I came across a volley who informed me that there was another runner just thirty seconds ahead, AND that the leader's were just eight minutes in front of me! It was a huge boost to my confidence as I had effectively limited my losses since we departed the initial flat section of the course. I looked at my watch, we were now 2h45min in. Even if I did have to drop before the finish I would be taking a lot of positives away from this race. I went to work tracking down the next few runner's.

Again as the climbs became steeper I continued to reel in a few more positions. As we were spit back out onto the 5km F.S.R. that we initially ran up...which we would now be running down, I was ecstatic to learn that I was in 10th position, and 9th was all of thirty meters ahead! This downhill was an absolute killer! It was so hard packed, without any reprieve at all, that it truly felt like it was ripping the quads apart. I was right on the heels of the 9th place runner, and then he just stopped running. I was surprised at how strong he was looking, and not three seconds after I had that thought he just gave up. He ended up coming back strong, but it always amazes me how you can often believe that you are suffering more than the next guy, when in reality, everyone is dying by that point in time and it all comes down to who is mentally tougher and able to ignore every single thing that your brain keeps throwing at you,

'If you stop...right now...I'll grow all of your hair back for you...I swear it to you man c'mon, you'll have an Afro by the end of the week if you want one...and all you have to do is stop bout now....NOW...just STOP RUNNING GOD DAMMIT!!'

As I came through the final aid station, at the bottom of the descent I was indeed told that I was currently in 9th place, and that 8th was thirty five seconds ahead of me. I started to dream of a seventh, or sixth placing if I could just finish off strong. This lasted all of about four seconds as the last two runner's I had passed, obviously road runner's, came blazing past me! I tried to hang on but my body was pretty shattered. During the descent I could feel muscle pain where I usually do not in ultra runs. Everything from my lower back to my abs, to of course my quads were screaming at me and it became very evident to me that I had indeed missed out on a full month of running. I just tried to sustain my position from there on in, which was now 11th overall.

As if this flat, 10k hard pack surface was not a torturous enough way to end an event, there was a collage running team out training on the exact terrain. I kept hearing footsteps, would then try to respond, before realizing that I just didn't have it in me and in my head simply tack on another placing to my day. 'Looks like I'm 12th now'. Then some young speedster would come blazing past and yell out,

"Nice work man, almost home!"

This repeated itself four times before I could actually determine if these guys were in the race or not before trying to punish myself further by going with them! The guy who was just 35sec ahead after the last aid station had increased his lead over me, although just slightly, and I realized that we were both in the exact same boat. Who had more left in the tank? With just one mile to go, 1.6k, I decided that 10th sounded a hell of a lot better than 11th. There was one minimal climb with two switchbacks. He exited the climb as I entered it. A nice family cheered us on, and I put my head down and bargained with my legs,

"Here's what I'm offering. Give me this, and I promise you I WILL NOT even attempt to stretch you after this race."


I started to close the gap and he shoulder checked. I was hoping he would have waited longer to do so, but this was enough to tell me that he was mine. He was checking because he was scared. The guy responded well however, and I remember thinking to myself, 'C'mon, I'm faster than you, just give this to me. I don't wanna fight for this!'

I consistently narrowed his lead until with just 400 meters to go I surpassed him. I tried to gap him right away and was successful, however I heard him respond...this guy just would not die! I upped the pace, so did he, and with about 300 to go I wanted this race over with. I pretty much sprinted it across the line and ended up putting 45sec into him as I finished in a time of 4hr28m57s (chip timing). I had snagged 10th place. I was amazed and so damn satisfied with my day!! The best part is that I was very confident that I did not mess myself up in the process of pushing through the pain. I knew that outside of the usual pain associated with recovery after an event like this, that I'd be back and running within a few days!

(I love this pic. This is in the first 10k of the race and these are the 3rd-8th runner's. Scott Jurek is wearing the red shoes and Brian Morrison the white visor. The other three runner's are currently running someone else's race plan and I caught all of them during the climbs. Number 274 is who I duked it out with at the line, while the other two are the the runner's who passed me back on the final 10k home stretch. I was back around 35th when this pic was taken!)

Now for Todd. I knew he would not be far behind, and at 4h40m28s and 16th overall, I was super happy for him! He too suffered on the final stretch of the race and had managed to pair off with the lead female runner in the event for the final 15k or so and they both helped each other keep a solid pace. They crossed the line together, but Todd's chip must've started just after hers. So not only did Todd have a solid race, but in just his first ultra run, he managed to not get 'chicked' or 'skirted', and that is with the utmost respect to all the female runner's out there because they are all pushing the guys to their limits in events such as these. In fact the gaps between the top female and male ultra runner's are surprisingly small and it's not uncommon to see a strong woman standing atop the podium, having chicked the entire field of competitors!

With the race chip timing they were able to give exact split times, and after reviewing it I was elated to see that I had the 4th fastest time in the entire field over the middle section of the race. I was just 4min slower that the top guy and but 2.5min behind world class and famous in our circles, runner Scott Jurek! As if I needed any more positives to walk away with, this was the first event of this length, in that 4hr-5hr range, which would include all MOMAR races and sprint adventure races in general, that I did not suffer from a single leg cramp throughout! AND, I took in far less while racing as well!! This was the first event I did with Thermolytes electrolyte tablets and I will never attempt another race without them!

My total nutrition on the day:

-1 Bottle of Carbo-Pro 1200
-6 Thermolyte Tablets
-1 Package of Cliff Shot Blocks


-My brand new, super hot Montrail Hardrock 08 shoes. Love em!
-Helly Hansen Lifa long sleeve, with a Lifa short sleeve over top.
-I was even able to carry my Helly Hansen Mars jacket along with me for the first half of the run, just in case, and not even notice that it was in my pocket!

That was it, that was all, not a single cramp for the very first time! I have yet to do an event where I did not learn something about my body. Hopefully this will all help me when I hit the starting line for the Miwok 100k in just six weeks time. In the mean time, thanks to Ean Jackson's broken rib, I was able to scoop myself an entry into the 50k Diez Vista on April 5th. This will be a tune up race leading up to Miwok, with a full week of training going into it. I have done this race once before, in 2006, and it was the absolute worst performance of my life. I 'blew up' (bonked) big time and crawled home to a 13th place finish. So at the very least, I am hoping to vindicate myself upon this course. Until then, I just damn happy to be back running, and competing, once again!!


(4/5's of the crew that ran the Howe Sound Crest Trail together in Sept)



Happy New Year!! (Fat Ass 50 Race Report)

I am four year's into a tradition that is a little less conventional than most for ringing in a new year...running 50km in Vancouver as part of the Fat Ass 50k, and then hoping in the ocean for a polar bear swim (a west coast version, which is to say we have it easy out here!).

When I first ran this event in 2005 it was the first 50k I'd ever run, and just my second ultra. It took me over 6.5 hrs to get through it and on an annual basis my goal is to 1) continue to get through this run and 2) try to improve my time from the previous year.

This New Year's Eve was the most partying I've done in many years. I usually enjoy the holiday's and then chill out on the big eve. I intended to do the same this year, until my roomie decided to have a few people over for fondue and drinks.

At 3am, after 7 or 8 beers, some brandy, some wine and lots of dancing (in our living room) I figured it was time to hit the sack. My party friends laughed, saying there was no way in hell I'd get up and follow through on my 50k run...I doubted it myself at that point.

The alarm went off at 6:30am and I hit snooze without even flinching. I continued to hit snooze for 45 minutes, then peeled my eyes off my pillow, looked at the time, and deduced that if I was out the door in ten minutes, I might still have a chance to make the start of the event. I told myself I'd move until I hit a 'road block', like not being able to find my shoes, not being able to tie my shoes, or just plain getting sick.

I left Squamish at 7:52am and was on the Lion's Gate at 8:34am! No traffic, loud music and a somewhat heavy foot allowed me to temporarily forget my situation. Once I arrived in Stanley Park it was great to see so many familiar faces, and to know that some, like Wade Repta for instance, were much worse off than I! (I could determine the alcohol that Wade had consumed the previous night by the odour of his sweat!)

Once again almost 100 people showed up, including an unusually high concentration of t.v. camera's (must have been the nice weather). High cloud cover and warm(ish) temps presented us with one of the nicest days in the fifteen year history of the event!

We started off in a large group that eventually grew smaller as the distance grew larger. One bathroom break and one small wrong turn later, we were at the turnaround in just over 2hr! About 5km from this turnaround my left knee started acting up. I have not had knee issues in quite some time and was not happy with the pain I was suffering through. It did not seem to slow me, but it definitely added to an already long list of reasons in my head to stop running on the day!!

Normally we socialize and hang out for a few minutes at the half way point, but after about 60sec I looked at the other runner's I was with and simply said,

"I have to go now, or I might not go at all".

We seemed to keep a solid pace on the return trip and I initially decided to pace off with Ellie Greenwood, because she had run the course just ten days prior and seemed to know it inside out. This quickly changed into me just trying to keep pace with her! Ellie is from the UK and has never spent a full summer in Van, having worked overseas during that time and returning here in the winters. She will be a staple on the local running scene this year and I warn you all, if you see her name on the starting list, keep yer head up or she'll leave you in her dust!!

My knee wasn't getting any better on the return run, and at one point, as Ellie and I crossed a paved road between trails, it flared enough that it made me consider quiting on the spot. Once I realized it would just be a long walk back if I did so I told myself to suck it up and just try to keep up with the 'chic' on my left!

Once we hit the last section of trails, with about 15km to go, I figured I should make the most of the cushier terrain and I picked up the pace for a few km. From there we were down onto the road and back along a paved, flat surface to the finish line, which is a fire hydrant that you have to kiss!

I was feeling pretty good until I hit the Burrard St Bridge, at which point it seemed like someone had tied a few bricks to my ass! I had not looked back since the last forested section, having run solo since, but knew I should be caught at any moment.

As I crested the bridge two runner's did indeed catch, and very easily pass me. Ellie, still running like she had just gotten outta bed five minute prior, was one of them. We talked briefly, but it was very apparent that they were out pacing me at that point in time and I could do little but watch them disappear in front of me. It was at this moment, approx 44k (?) into the run, that I did something I had never done before...I mentally gave myself permission to quit. I told myself that it was OK to finally walk and rest my knee, it was alright to trek it back and just take my time in doing so, it was alright to give was I know that this is a fun run, and it's always fun to get out there on New Year's Day and start the year off on the right foot amongst a group of friends, but giving myself permission to quit...that just pissed me off in a big way!

I got angry with myself and said that there was no way I was going to quit now, no matter how much pain I seemed to be in. I decided that I would just try to keep sight of the two runner's in front of me for a few km and see how I felt. As we struggled our way through the throngs of polar bear swimmers in English Bay, I kept bobbing my head up and down so as not to loose sight, and pace with the leaders.

With about 3km to go I decided it was now or never, I had to try and 'get back on'. I pushed hard for 1km and was closing the gap nicely. Just as we rounded the corner into 'Lost Lagoon' Ellie turned and was noticeably surprised to see me again,

"You didn't think I was going down without a fight did ya!" I said with a laugh.

As I caught up to them I just decided to keep my pace as I figured I could hold it until the fire hydrant. I was a bit surprised to see that neither runner decided to follow and continued suffering my way along the sea wall. Last year I had the luxury of following Chris Benn and Tim Weins home, but the year prior, I ran right past the turn up into Brockton Oval and continued on down the seawall! I was very cautious to not let this happen again and had read through the course instructions twice before the run. As I struggled through the final km of the day, I noticed the Totem Poles and then the Harry Jerome statue for the first time, I was almost done.

Just a couple of painful steps up what seemed like a monstrous climb into the parking lot, a kiss of the fire hydrant...and a Global News camera in my face?? I was on the verge of tears and could hardly stand. My friends told me I looked 'real impressive' on the news that night!!

At 4h04m I not only bettered my time from last year by fifteen minutes (and apparently the course is 1km longer than last years version), but I somehow managed the new course record as well! The other two runner's were not far behind at 4h05m and 4h06m. Ellie will be a force to be reckoned with this summer. Keep yer heads up guys, I know she's got me training harder already!!

Congrats to all runner's on the day, many who completed their first ever ultra! Thanks to Ean and Sibylle of Club Fat Ass for another great event, and the numerous volunteers along the course, it was truly a perfect day for to be out there!!

Nutrition: In case you're wondering, I consumed three gels, two packets of Cliff Shot Bloks, one Nuun tablet and one bottle of Carbo-Pro 1200 (watered down in 1.5 litres of water), for a total of about 1700 calories.

I couldn't walk for a few days after the event, but that's pretty normal for me. I managed an easy paced, but painful 35m run on Friday night and 2hr on the spin bike last night. Finally today I am able to walk without hobbling and should be good to go for training tomorrow. I already have floor hockey, a few spin sessions, ski touring and maybe even skate skiing on the list of things to do next week. It has snowed over two feet in the last few days on the mountains...let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!!!

Happy New Year!



The Beast Adventure Race Report

Speed blogging, here we go...

The Beast Adventure Race in Washington State 06 was the first race that Todd and I ever did together...this was our one year anniversary...of course Todd forgot and didn't even get me a stinking card!!

We managed to link up with some local racers who lived just minutes from the starting area. Colin and Connie, of 'Colinoba' fame (a birthday adventure race that involves a pub awesome is that!), were gracious enough to host us in their incredible home. The lights were on, the tree was up, and it made me miss Christmas at home with the fam! We also met Reed and Andrea who were up from Portland for the event. Together three of the four (Connie was too sick to race) also did the race and put in a solid performance. With PQ 04 experience they are talented and experienced racers who like to have a lot of fun. Check out this link for what looks like an incredible mountain bike event in Oregon next summer. Appears to be the perfect excuse for a road trip (note the FREE beer gardens), and I'll be looking to organize a crew to head down there for this next summer...ahh, I miss summer...

Leaving Squamish with a mountain bike on my roof, in the biggest snow storm of the season, garnered me those 'special looks' from people, like they were saying,

"Ahhh, that's cute, he's an idiot!!"

Picking up Todd at the Tsawassen (don't care if that's spelled right or not) ferry and adding a second bike to my roof only increased out profile while driving on the highway.

"Look honey, those Canadians are funny, they have bikes on their car!!"
"Dumb ass Canadians!"

"Hi, we're not stupid, we really are going to ride these things...umm, actually, come to think of it we are kinda dense aren't we..."

The drive down was truly scary at times. Not because the roads were that bad, although it was dumping pretty good in places, but more so because the other drivers out there had a very noticeable lack of winter driving experience. I just tried to keep my distance from most other vehicles as Todd and I counted six cars in the ditch and three that seemed to have just pulled over and quit...
"Honey, rent a truck and come get me, NOW!!"

We weren't even sure if the event would go ahead and were actually amazed at how many people turned up on the day, with an even 100 people at the starting line! Personally if I had the option I truly would have stayed in bed!

The race course was covered in about 3-4 inches fresh snow (for the third straight year), and it was starting to rain on top of that...perfect conditions to freeze yer ass off!

The Beast is different from a MOMAR in that the majority of the participants are new comers and out to experience adventure racing for the first time. DART-Nuun do a very cool thing each year where they volunteer to pair up with newbies and help them get through their first race. It was great to see Ryan, Aaron and Glenn (hope I didn't miss anyone. Matt Hart was also out volleying on the day and has a short video on his blog) sharing their hard earned expertise with some brand new adventure racers...welcome to the sport, you might as well apply for an additional credit card asap!

Having not done much in the last two months, well, I did a lot of drinking, some ski touring, some floor hockey, some dodge ball, basically anything but a.r. disciplines were on the menu...where was I...this was/is our wake up call that race season is again, just around the corner. I do a 50k ultra every New Year's Day, so it's time to get back on the feet again. The Beast is our kick in the ass to get some focus back into the training sched.

I can't do short blog postings can I...I'm not even at the start yet...


Run to our bikes, then two bike loops back to the start finish and a running loop back again. I believe distances were about 40k of biking and 15k of running?

My biggest weakness is cold weather. I did a full year in the Northern B.C. oil and gas industry as a Pipe Fitter's Assistant. This involved working outside for at least 12hr a day, seven days a week, through the dead of winter. At one point I went into a back country 'camp' for three weeks and the WARMEST it got in those twenty one days was -27 degrees Celsius, with the mercury dipping to -47 one day...there are no days off. I remember getting out of camp and wondering when I would get the feeling back in my toes, the answer was fifteen days and they've never been the same since. My fingers are similar and it doesn't take much for me to loose sensation in my extremities these least most of them!


Within ten minutes we had about an inch of slush covering our feet on the bike. It was a slushy, slippery mess and I knew that I would struggle through it. Had I been wearing my biking booties and ski gloves I would have been better off, but I simply did not anticipate these racing conditions.

Before the first bike loop was complete I had literally lost all sensation from my kneecaps down. I had two stumps below my quads that weren't quite sure if they were pedaling in the right direction or not. With all that crap sticking to my derailleur I had lost all but one gear on my bike, thankfully the easiest one. I was only able to shift between the mid and big ring on the front. As we hit flat sections of the race Todd would effortlessly pull away from me,


My fingers also went completely numb and to actually shift gears I would have to reach under my bars and pull down on the shifter as I simply could not push my fingers enough to shift normally. To downshift I had to punch the shifter with my hand cause my thumb wouldn't move. Todd did not comment until after the race that I seemed to be taking forever to punch the checkpoints on our passport...that was because I couldn't flex my hand at all! I had to line up the punch over the right number and then slam both hands together to get it to go...I was not really enjoying myself, but kept telling myself that this was great training in case we ever get into these conditions in an actual expedition.

After both bike loops we attempted running out of the transition area, but we struggled to get our feet to respond to the terrain. After a few CP's we stopped to check on them because it felt like our socks had bunched up into a huge ball under our arches. It turned out that it was just painful sensation of our feet trying to resuscitate themselves!

After 4h10m Todd and I crossed the finish line...and continued running to my car for a change of clothes! As mentioned, this race is about fun and not a super competitive event. We loved it, there is such a great crowd of people in the Pacific North West and it's awesome getting to know more of them at each event we can participate in.

Our amazing host Colin (and Connie of course) had teamed up with Reed and Andrea to come in second across the line, but looking at the results I guess they missed a CP which dropped them down to fourth. They didn't care, they had huge smiles on their faces as they finished, and I believe the Santa hats were back on within seconds.

Thanks so much to Roger, Yumay, Eric and Aaron for hosting such a great event, and especially the volleys who were the only people that may have had it worse than us on the day!

It was cool to see another Canadian team down there as well. Team Suburban Rush, consisting of Magnus Byne, Christopher Lister, Sarah Goring and Lannie Theielen finished a solid 11th and I'm sure they would echo my was f$%king freezing but well worth the drive!

I'm not even joking when I say this, it's Tuesday night, and I still do not have full sensation back in my feet...if this lasts more than fifteen days I guess I'll head to the Dr. again!

Full Results Here