Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vulture Bait 25k Trail Run: Race Report

The weather co-operated nicely! Although frosty and around zero near the start of the race, the temps rose to scorching highs of around 8 celcius during the run. The wind was negligible and the surface conditions of the trails could not have been better. In contrast, the morning before, the city of London was blanketing in a white layer of snow.

I reached my goals that I laid out in this post. I finished wonderfully injury free. At no point in the run did I even have to slow down in fear of a twinge turning into a tear or strain.

I enjoyed seeing the old trails that I spent so much time on 16 years ago. I was disappointed that the race didn't run down my baby - a trail extension that I built. In fact, I missed the entrance to the trail and I'm under the impression that they may have closed it off.

I finished in 2 hours and 31 minutes. I was a minute over pace at 5km and 7km then I never saw a marker until the finish line. Finishing with little struggle and only a minute over 6 minute km pace has to be attributed partially to the fact there were no km markers. I didn't have to think and calculate every passing kilometer. I just relaxed and enjoyed the trail scenery. The fact that the trail was thin enough at points that passing was almost impossible, made me slow down and take a rest every so often when I got behind a pack of runners. And yes, I was able to be back in Orangeville to watch my oldest son play his hockey game.

The shirt and medal were pretty cool. Not flashy, but to the point. Just like everything else that made this event wonderful. It was a running event for runners. There were no packs of joggers that had been training for a whole month leading up to the event. There's nothing wrong with that, it's great that thousands of people embark on a running journey with little or no training each weekend, but the distance and the running surface here called to a different type of runner.

There was no speech by some local celebrity at the starting line. There was no aerobics warmup put on by some local fitness club before the race. There was no starters pistol blast or air horn to signify the start of the race. Apparently, someone said 'go' and we 'went'.

Throughout the 25km, whenever I was around other runners, I enjoyed listening in on their conversations. For a lot of the runners, this was the last in the Ontario Ultra Series and many were running the 50km race. With the relative silence of the wooded trail, it was quite easy to listen in on conversations many metres away. I listened to more than one conversation that evolved around how they were going to do at the Toronto Marathon - the next morning! One guy was doing the 50km then the Toronto Marathon then a 90km somewhere in the U.S. next weekend.
I forgot to enquire at the finish line whether there was an award for the most falls on the course. I went down twice, tripping on roots. On the first, I had an audience as I somersaulted down the trail. On the second I was alone - too bad, I was much more spectacular. I was disappointed that I didn't draw a trickle of blood down from my knee to impress the spectators and other runners!
The after race meal was pretty spectacular - for a non-vegan. Lasagna, meatballs and caesar salad was on the menu.

In short, I loved this race. More to the point, I loved this running community. It's a running community that I want to be part of. I'm not sure I can be ready for a full Ultra Series next season, but I definitely want to move in that direction (yes - running the actual ultra distances and not the junior version like I did yesterday). I've also realized that when I do my race rating in the next couple of days, the love of this race will not be reflected in my race rating system. I think I have to revamp the race rating system for next season by maybe changing categories or adding a handicapping system for races under 1000 entrants - there are simply things that smaller races cannot or will not provide that the bigger ones can. These items (on-course entertainment, pre-race expos, super ultra websites), I've realized, although making the whole event experience better, these items do nothing to make the race better. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

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