We drove to Lethbridge the day before the race to pick up packages and get organized at the Days Inn. Race entry included lovely warm North Face hoodies and they had awesome buffs to buy with the course map on - very nice (and helpful when lost). Package pickup was different, the RD had googled us and knew about our other ultras and times, I was wondering if he'd let us start!
I took this photo from the hotel parking lot, this is the start of leg 2. It's purty. It absolutely poured with rain on and off all day, this is the evening bout of monsoon coming in. Raceday weather turned out to be close to perfect after this.
I slept pretty well until about an hour before the alarm went off when I shifted into panic mode. Here's a bunch of us after the pre-race meeting, definitely looking good. Not sure I was feeling good! I like hanging out with people who know what they're doing.
Leg 1 7km 120m
A piper sends us off. Down to the road then south and up into the coulees - we only do this leg once in the 100k. We drop into a lovely valley with trees then head back north on a paved pathway. It's taking a little while to get my legs moving. Climb back up to the start/finish line.
Leg 2 8.4km 252m
I think this is the most scenic leg, some nice rolling hills through the trestle bridge to start. And a few stairs.
This cairn is lovely and also featured on the finishers tile.
Looking down at the road, a bunch of huge ass trucks are belting along it by the time we descend. I am pretty glad to get past them and their dust and back into the coulees.
We're eating between aid stations so we don't spend too much time there, I made a bunch of chicken wraps to bring and that's working out well. Other than that, we have cold pizza, chips, a few energy bars/gels (which we don't use) and Nuun for the packs. Oh and a few little bottles of flat Coke.
Softball Valley/Peenaquim aid station. Such a welcoming friendly little oasis! We're still having fun. I have a very amazing cup of cold chocolate milk in my hand.
Leg 3 9.6km 286m
Oh god why did I drink chocolate milk. The first hill onto leg 3 sucks. We're by a gun range, we're going to die. The drop off both ways is deeply alarming.
At the end of this leg we'll be 25% done. This leg is eternal. I'll probably just expire out here.
I borrowed this from someone on the interwebz, all the hills are named.....
I labelled about 10 happy tunes on my phone with things like 'kill me now' and 'struggle bus' to perk us up during low points in the race so we listen to 'it's shit' which turns out to be the theme from The Great Escape.
Eventually Pavan. Happy reunion with drop bags.
Leg 4 16.4km 285m
This is the longest leg of the race out to the north on private land. After a steep climb out of Pavan we have some relatively level ground. I'm really noticing the blisters on the insides of both heels.
A table in the middle of nowhere with candy. It's random AF and kind of sums up the race.
After another set of climbs we come back down and there's one point that freaks me out completely, it's crazy steep. I only have pictures of the happy bits, I was focused on survival during the rough parts.
The leading runner in the 100k proceeds to lap us just before Pavan (at great and impressive speed). It's like watching a force of nature. It makes me want to do better at this.
We cross the lawn into Pavan and grab our bags for food and a water refill. My heel blisters have burst so I change into tighter socks and put more glide on my feet. I could probably have used some advice/help here but you live and learn.
Leg 5 6.6km 146m
A pleasant start then 3 hellishly steep climbs/descent, fondly known as the 3 bitches. Standing at the top of the middle one in the gusty wind contemplating my plummet downwards is another low point. I have to take a few minutes to regroup. The sun is getting lower in the sky.
Still here, still doing this.
We arrive into Softball in twilight, I really do like this aid station. I now have blisters on the balls of my feet. That's just awesome.
Leg 6 6.2km 111m
This leg starts out pleasantly enough with a steep short hill - aptly named The Insult - early on. We pass by the quarry, the trucks we saw earlier are done for the day and the drivers probably off enjoying their Friday night in Lethbridge. By the time we reach Indian Battle Park it's fully dark. I'm cold and my headlight is at HQ, this is pants. We turn to start the slow climb back up toward the lights at HQ and my shoe treads are catching in the meshing on the coulee, the pain on the balls of my feet is ridiculous.
At the top we sit and get colder, then realize we'll have to go back to the hotel to change. It's across the parking lot, not far at all.
It was probably a mistake to look at where we were at right there then ask 'can I finish the race'. 'Can I go one more leg' would have been a better question, maybe with the same answer who knows. After we looked at the blisters on the balls of my feet, the answer was no and we made the decision to stop. I had no idea how to fix it.
We both learned so much from this race and we completed a full loop which makes me happy. Sometimes the only way to succeed is to fail first. I'm in a much better place to try again.
Final: 54.2km 1200m