Monday, June 28, 2010

Ultra Anyone? - Kelowna's Scorched Sole 50 miler

This past weekend, we had a friend from Victoria come stay with us - none other Carlos, the Running Jackal, well known for his Youtube and RuncastTV videos. Carlos was here to run the Scorched Sole 50 Mile Ultra on Saturday morning and needed a place to crash, so we picked him up after he flew in Friday afternoon, and had dinner and a visit Friday night. He brought me a really nice long sleeved tech t-shirt - bright yellow - with the logo from Club Fat Ass. On the back it says "I may have a fat ass but I'm ahead of you!" It's hilarious! On Saturday morning, we were up at 4am for coffee and breakfast then we headed over to the bottom of the Crawford trail system (Myra-Bellvue Provincial Park), not far from our place.

I've never been to an ultra race start and I found it really interesting to be surrounded by all those wiry, zero percent body fat people. At least 2/3 of the runners were 40 years or older, further confirming my belief that with age, comes endurance. Carlos chatted with a few of his team mates, some of whom he had run with last year, and pointed out Ellie Greenwood, (#480 below) the young ultra runner from Banff, Alberta, who had recently won the Elk Beaver 100km Race on May 1, as well as capturing 5th overall and first woman with a 2:52 a few weeks later at the Calgary Marathon. Carlos predicted that Ellie would win today's race, and would later prove to be correct.

The runners hung around chatting about their various race exploits while the race directors busied themselves setting up a few tables, food, computer etc that would serve as a make-shift race headquarters for the next 12-14 hours. After a few brief words about the race course changes this year (no, they would not be running the flat KVR as they did last year - instead they would be climbing up, up, up and over Little White Mountain (2171 m, 7100 ft - starting point was about 400m or 1300 ft) not once, but twice!! Uh oh, this was news to several of them), Carlos and his 30 odd pals set off at 6am without much fanfare.

Carlos and I chat with another young runner, "Nazzer" from Kelowna.

The new course also meant that the runners would be encountering snow for at least 5km of their run, and that ropes had been set up to help them climb up and down a few of the riskier sections. Carlos' original plan of a 9:00-9:30 time clearly had to re-adjusted.

Erik and I hung around for a little while and then left to get on with our daily lives. Carlos was planning to head to the airport to catch a flight back to Victoria after the race. He would call us if plans changed and/or he needed a ride.

Later than day, 3pm came and went, and Erik and I started to wonder how Carlos was doing. We decided to head back to the race start and see if we could see him cross the finish line. We arrived around 4pm which was around the 10 hour mark and slowly, one by one, the runners were coming across. Ellie Greenwood had finished earlier in an amazing 7:58, which was only a few minutes slower than last year, despite the much more challenging conditions. The next runner, and first male to cross, had been Steve Russell in 8:23.

A section of the lower trail.

The runners finishing at the 10-12 hour mark were still the youngsters, 20-40 year olds, so we knew our friend, who is strongest on the flats wouldn't likely be in for a little while yet. Meanwhile, we were having a blast, cheering on the runners, most of whom didn't look at all like they had just run an ultra marathon once they crossed the finish line. It was hard not to feel the urge to run trails, and maybe even sign up for the "baby" 25km race in 2011 when you are sitting there in the midst of all the excitement.

Finally, we saw the familiar red bandana signally our friend Carlos. "Runner!" we cried, letting the race director know someone was coming down the trail. "Runner!" they responded, as they got the camera ready. Carlos ran down the trail, looking strong, with his video camera in hand, filming as he rounded the corner and crossed the finish line. He had made it in one piece, and more than that, he was smiling and walking around visiting like it was simply been a training run! 12:40:04 was his official time, 3rd out of 5 in his AG - wow, what an accomplishment!

Carlos was happy to see us and was ready to head back to our place for another over-nighter as the last plane would be leaving in 30 minutes. I was happy to be able to feed him and give him a place to shower, rest, and sleep for the night. We chatted over dinner and I turned on the recorder and got some great audio for my podcast.

I really enjoyed getting to meet another one of my online running friends. Carlos is a very friendly, easy-going, thoughtful and compassionate guy and we all got along as if we'd been friends forever. I am looking forward to visiting him in Victoria some day and hopefully running to coastal trails with him. And maybe next year, I will run the Scorched Sole 25k race!

If you want to hear Carlos talk more about his running and the race, you'll have to download KG Tris: Episode #67!

Here is the 50 Miler Video Carlos videoed while he was on the run. Check out his other running videos by clicking on his Youtube link.

The next morning, we dropped Carlos off at the airport at 8am and Erik I headed back to Crawford and ran the trails ourselves for the first time. It was exhilarating, beautiful, and I loved it! We ran for just under two hours and stuck to the lower trails, Fairlane and Lost Lake. If it wasn't for my ITB acting up once again when I was on the downhill home, it would have been a perfect run! Next year - I'm sure of it!!!


Ultragrrl said...

Looks like an awesome race!

Nazzer said...

Your last paragraph sounds like it may be possible to convert you to trail runnung; you definitely should. So much more fun. Once you get used to the trails its easier on the body, much less recovery time required too.

Ian Chitson said...

Barb. Absolutley Brilliant Post. Well written, well put together and really interesting.

Ian Charters said...

Must do it next year, Barb. Plenty of time to get used to and really enjoy trail running.

It is much easier on joints and shins and so much more fun, I promise. (:

Anonymous said...

Yeah that is a great blog post, I've never had 100 hits in three days before, Wow!

Glenn Jones said...

I am *really* starting to get into trail running these days. I kind of agree with Carols though - wth age it's more the lack of speed than it is more endurance. Plus - as you found out - thre's just something about being around nature....