North Face Endurance Run 2015

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Location: Collingwood Ontario
Distance: Marathon [4 x 4 relay]
Register: https://www.thenorthface.com/en_ca/get-outdoors/endurance-challenge/ontario-canada.html

Well, it’s been a while since we ran this race. But it was quite the event and has not been forgotten. There is no doubt that this was not an event to be taken lightly. But we did. At least I did. You see, I love to run trails and despite the fact I do not race on trails that often, did not impede my expectation as to how well I would do. Boy was I in for a surprise!

I participated in the event along with a team of Beaches Running Club members. We were supposed to be 3 teams of 4 to run the marathon but that plan got nixed due to an illness and some babysitting issues. No worries, I, and a couple of others agreed to run 2 legs each to make up the difference. The wiser choice would have been to pare down to 2 teams of 4 runners but our overzealous nature kept it as 3 teams. This put us with 2 teams of 3 and 1 team of 2 – meaning we’d need 3 people to run 2 legs. How hard would a 2nd leg of 10.5km be? Wow. Very hard. Especially if each leg were paced as a 10.5k leg as opposed to pacing properly.
The route was a fairly continuous uphill, side hill climb followed by a rolling, downhill, back uphill and side hill descent, that also challenged runners with a very steep rocky downhill portion before chilling out with a less steep downhill/side hill stretch to the beginning, where runners would tag up for the next participant. It was brutally difficult and even more so under the hot July sun. I ran the second leg for our team, then rested while our third runner did his section, and then I’d run the 4th leg as well.

I started out at what felt like a pretty easy pace. By the time I got to about 3km however, that pace was feeling hard. By the time I got to 5km I was struggling, partially from being less fit after a long injury plagued year, and also because I ran stupidly fast to start. Not to worry though, as I was almost half way and the downhill would start soon..Right? Well, no on both counts. The route ended up being 11.5km plus the 2nd half proved to be as difficult as the first. You see, despite it being downhill, the sections were so steep you were fighting gravity. And secondly, it was constantly coming back up for short spells making you think you were never going to get back down!

When we arrived at the rocky, super steep, stepped descent, it was a relief for me. Most people did not like this section as it was so steep and the condensation on the rocky steps was a bit treacherous. I however liked the stepped portions and was able to barrel by dozens of tentative runners, making up for some lost time. It was a bit scary, but exhilarating and I could have run a section like that for miles.

By the time we reached the clearing, it was about a kilometre to the checkpoint along the side hill/downhill section alongside where we started and I cruised in thinking the 2nd leg was going to have to be run smarted (read: slower). I tagged up our next runner and sat down for a rest and some hydration.

When the time came for my 2nd turn to head back up, I was not ready. I asked around for someone else to take my spot but no one was having any of it! So I ventured out at a much easier pace than the first loop. During the climb, my lingering hamstring and glute issues flared up. I struggled even with walk breaks and by the 3rd km, I was contemplating calling for a helicopter. That made it quite difficult to fathom 8 more kms. So I made an about face and walked back before I made my ailments any worse.

It would disqualify my team but we had already decided we weren’t concerned with results. Our other team of 3, that included runner Larry Lewis doing 2 fine legs and that team ended up finishing 2nd in the relay team challenge!

Our third team, like mine, did not officially finish but all runners were happy with the run. Everyone enjoyed the route and it’s beauty. It really was a nice trail, with some very picturesque views and awesome challenging sections under canopies of trees. At the awards, we heard our name called out for top team as well and we were perplexed and went to receive our award. It dawned upon us that my return from 3km made it appear I had completed the 2nd loop and we had an official time. I went back to the awards table to return our prizes and had them note that we were undeserving of the award.

All in all, it was a really good experience. The event itself is first class and extremely well run, well organized and caters to all. I enjoyed spending time at Blue Mountain in the warmth, for the first time, after many many trips over the years in the cold winter for some great skiing.

I would highly recommend this race to anyone looking to get out of the city, and attacking some challenging trails. You can chose 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon, marathon relay, the marathon by yourself, 50k, or 50 mile (80k).

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Beaches RunnerAbout Beaches Runner

Crazy mad runner, wanting to be fitter and faster but too busy to do it right. Still, I keep trying.

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