My first race of 2018 ended up being an indoor track race. With Canadian winters being as harsh as they are for runners I thought that the relative comfort of running indoors would be a welcome relief from the bitter cold and slippery conditions.
Having met the race director Jeff Rowthorn at a 50K trail race in October 2017 I started hearing the buzz around this event and was intrigued. When I found out that he and his wonderful partner in crime Heather Borsellino had dedicated this run to ShelterSafe, an organization that supports shelters for abused women and their kids across Canada I went from intrigued to registered. I thought that it would be a nice follow-up to my 55K run on my 55th birthday in December 2017 which raised about $900 for our local shelter My Friend's House. ShelterSafe was the same cause with a larger scope.
I have to say that Heather and Jeff are two of the nicest people you could ask for as race directors. Their passion for running shows and the event had all the amenities that ultra runners expect. Since they are regulars at Ontario Ultra Series events, everything was like "old home week" as all the familiar faces of close friends were in attendance.
The event featured 1 hour, 3 hour and 6 hour races with the object being to run as many laps as you can in that amount of time. There can be no DNF, just some amount of laps run so no pressure at all!
Need a washroom break? Aid station? No problem! You are never more than 100 metres from either facility. The aid station was well stocked with every type of salty and/or sweet snack you need and water or electrolyte drinks in abundance. Showers were also available for after the run.
Overall very well organized and while I wished I was outside on a trail, I was happy to be inside on this cold January 6th day socializing for 6 hours with good friends as we went in circles!
6 Hour Kickoff
I know I'm in good company with the other crazies in choosing 6 hours but it was cool to see others I knew coming off injury had a shorter time option. And of course the 1 and 3 hour events were different beasts altogether because people were absolutely killing it pace wise! My hat is off to all the athletes in all the events.
I started off knowing I needed to take it easy because it's tempting to run faster than you should on such a flat perfect surface. Of course I ignored my inner coach and went too fast for about the first 80 laps. It just felt so good and I could hang out with friends doing the 1 or 3 hour. So a little slap on the wrist from self coach ensued. Since I had run 55 km just a couple of weeks before to celebrate my 55th birthday, there was no way I'd be fresh enough to hold that pace!
Having gone out way too enthusiastically and starting to feel my achilles giving me grief I showed at least a little common sense (It's rare) and adjusted the pace down accordingly.
It's the part of an ultra where you normally are in the middle of the woods and can be alone for many hours. Not here! I really enjoyed catching up with friends Steven H, Steven P, Grant M, Kristina J, Robin B, Patrick M, Hans M, Michelle T, Ken N etc.
It really started to become tough because of the constant turning. In my high school track career the most I'd done was 16 laps of a 200 metre indoor track to complete a 3,000M event. In this 6 hour span I ended up with 258 laps of a 214 metre track. This was madness! Although we changed direction every 1.5 hours I personally found that my achilles tendons and calf muscles were finding the cornering again and again challenging. But... We are ultra runners and suffering is all part of it.
Last 58 Laps
After the first 200 laps I started realizing that I might only get as far as about 55 km in 6 hours which would be a lot slower than my 55k birthday run in 5:05 which was outdoors on road. I realized I'd have to walk off some niggling calf cramps around this point in time.
Being a fun run and social I now decided it was a good idea to walk about 10 laps. Lucky for me I found Michelle Tanner, someone I find inspiring because she did the Haliburton 50 miler while pregnant! And so I had such a great conversation with her while I walked off my cramps and totally forgot the pain.
It was down to the last half hour! I had been trying really hard with my problem achilles to compartmentalize the clock into segments to make it seem ok somehow. In distance based races I usually compartmentalize it into distance segments. I make deals with myself like to hold the pace for just the next 10K and see how I feel then. When I get to the end of that 10K segment I make another deal. In this way you can trick yourself into maintaining pace! With this event it was hold that pace for half an hour and take another trip to the aid station room for fuel from our friend "Tanker" and back out.
The best feeling in the world was to see that I was within the last half hour. Soccer and ultimate frisbee teams had come and gone over the course of 6 hours and still we were there, running in circles!
Crossing the line at the last practical lap within 6 hours it was quite a fist bumping back slapping moment where we got our cool Stride Inside medals. My ultimate supporter Susan was there to congratulate me. She is a great cheerleader and although she confessed to going out to a coffee place to do a couple of hours of her accounting work, I know she was there in spirit for the whole 6 hours. I mean running can be a great spectator sport, but not for 6 hours really!
I was glad I did it and had a lot of fun. I probably killed my right achilles from the turning and not running on trails but these things happen to all of us from time to time. It's all back to normal now and I'm looking forward to the trail racing season of 2018!
13th place overall/10th male
258 laps of the 214 metre track completed in 6 hours
Finishers receive a great singlet with the logo and a medal.
Running in Circles!
From the spectator's Balcony
Keep on keeping on!
2019 Race Information
Date January 5, 2019
Time 9am (1hr & 6hr) 10:30am (3hr)
Location Royal Distributing Athletic Performance Centre - Guelph, ON
Distances 1 hour, 3 hour, 6 hour
Description This race is based on a professional indoor track. This event is family friendly and we encourage both walkers and runners to take part. There will be music and food available to participants along with product and gear representatives.
Race Kits & Medals Race kits will have a multitude of goodies including a custom race tank. Finishers will receive a custom race medal.
This race will support Women's Shelters Canada and its website sheltersafe.ca in its efforts to provide safety, hope, and support for abused women and their children.
Information about this race and others: www.happytrailsracing.com/races