Friday, 11 July 2014

Blackfoot Ultra 50miler 2014: DNF - but still a beautiful day in the trails

Blackfoot Ultra 50miler May 24, 2014 – Race Report

Just a quick recap: I initially wanted to do the BF 50miler as a pre-race for the Lost Soul Ultra in September 2013. I was all signed up but I had to deal with a hip flexor injury, which prevented me from racing. Luckily, the organizers let you rollover to next years race if you are injured (at no cost). This is really something I really appreciate and which is pretty much unique and speaks for the great attitude of the organizers!

Again, the preparation for this race didn’t work according to plan, as I was extremely busy with teaching in spring and also dealt with yet another injury, this time plantar fasciitis. I mainly focused on indoor cycling in the spring and started running again in April. With the race approaching, I wasn’t really sure whether I actually should toe the start line at all. It’s kind of pointless doing a 50-mile race when your longest run was 17k! In the end, I decided to just start and see how things unfold. Since the race covers 3 25k loops plus a 5k out and back at the beginning, I could always drop out once coming back to the start/finish area.

Thanks to my good friend Glenn for picking me up in the morning and dropping me off at the start/finish area! Glenn has been supporting and accompanied me now for quite a few races now. Big thanks to you! 

So with no expectations in my head, I started the race with the sole goal of having a great day running on trails in the Blackfoot provincial recreation area. The weather was amazing and I felt awesome.

I settled quickly into a comfortable pace and wasn’t concerned at all what was going on around me. After 10k, I was alone and couldn’t see anyone. There were 3 runners ahead of me who took off right after the start. The trails were really amazing and I really liked the rolling hills! Not too steep but many of them. Almost at the end of lap 1, I caught up to the third runner and passed him. I was extremely surprised since I wasn’t really going hard at that point. I kept on running my pace and finished the first 30k feeling really good. I was actually really surprised how well it was going considering the lack of run training.

At the start/finish area, I could see the 2nd place runner and at that point I started to get a bit competitive. I pushed a little harder to get closer and it seemed to work. I eventually passed him and I kept on going. At kilometer 40, I felt that things are getting tough now.  Nonetheless, I tried to maintain focused and just keep on moving – but from now on things went bad really quickly. My lower legs started to cramp (soleus muscle), and my gluteus medius muscles were screaming. My quads and hamstrings were fine, probably because I wasn’t really pushing it very hard. I managed to get to the last aid station (around km 50) before finishing the 2nd lap and that’s when it hit me hard. I was done. I walked a bit then tried running again but wasn’t able to run for longer than 30 seconds at a time. That’s when I decided to pull the plug once I am back in the start and finish area.

After hitting the aid station in the start and finish area I ate some fruits and drank water and then wanted to let the race organizers know I will quit. Then I saw my friend Andrea McGregor, which I also met sometime ago on the course while I was still feeling good. She was doing to 50k race, which started a few hours later, and also had only one lap to go. She talked me into running with her this last lap and I decided to give it a try. We run about 1k or so when I had to stop running again. It was just not going to happen. I turned around went back and officially dropped the race.

In the end, it was a DNF but nonetheless I got a solid 55km work out in. I also should be happy that I was able to run that far given my preparation. The smartest thing would have been to ask the RD before the race if I can start in the 50k instead of the 50-mile. But I decided to give it a try and see how things turn out and in the end I actually very much enjoyed the day.

If you like ultra running on trails, you should definitely give this race a try!! It’s beautiful! If you want to see the location, elevation profile etc. check out my run on Strava.



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