Friday, May 31, 2013

Sulphur Springs 25K Trail Race

Ancaster ON
BIB # 756
Official Time 3:22:49
Pace 8:07
Place 259/288
Gender Place 103/124
Category Place 42/49
Holy cow! How have I never done a trail race before? I had so much fun out at Dundas Valley Conservation Area on Saturday. I felt like I was running cross country in elementary school all over again. Except a lot farther. And with grown ups.  
I got to the park at 6:30am and waited and waited and waited for Marina and her friend Robyn to arrive. Ok, it was like 10 minutes, not the half hour that I make it sound like. I can be a little impatient. The girls finally got there, we went and got our race kits and hit the washrooms. Small races = zero line up for the bathrooms. I'm already loving this trail race thing! There were a number of distances being raced this day, 10K, 25K, 50K, 50 miles & 100 miles(Yowza!) but they didn't all start at the same time which was nice. Luckily we had the opportunity to find Robin who was out there to help pace her friend doing the 100 miler! As you can tell by Robin's jacket it was freezing out! We got a few quick pictures taken and then it was time to start.
Robyn, Marina, Me, George & Robin

I honestly had no idea what I was about to get myself into.
Freezing our butts off waiting for the race to start.
The race started off with a huge downhill, both steep and long. It was fun to run down but there were so many people you couldn't really get enough momentum to use it to your advantage. About halfway down everyone started to yell "runner" and shifted over to the left. 100 Mile Runner coming up? What? This better not mean that we have to run back up this thing! That'll be crazy! Best to put it out of my mind! We lost Robyn fairly quickly at the start but were able to recollect her when Marina had to stop to take her inhaler. We lost and found Robyn a lot during the race.
The first portion of this run was a 5K spur off of the main 20K loop so we broke free from the 10K & 50K runners fairly quickly which meant there was now more room to move which was nice because there were massive piles of horse crap everywhere that we had to dodge and weave. There was nothing in the participants guide about horse shit let me tell you! Good thing that I wore old shoes. We ran at a reasonable pace and spent the entire time talking and laughing. At the turn around portion of the spur the course marshal told us that we were having far too much fun. Sorry!! Time passed by quickly and all of a sudden we were back at THE hill. Crap! We did have to go back up it. We decided to walk up the hill but then about halfway up we saw Robin with her camera. "Don't take our picture while we're walking!!" I yelled to her. So Marina & I started to run, but only until we passed Robin then we got back to walking again. LOL A guy with his dog was at the top of the hill and told us only 100 more metres to go. Thanks buddy! We came to the finish area and made our way out onto the 20K loop.
Look at us RUNNING up this monster hill. Now look away quickly so we can resume walking!
Coming into timing area. The ultra runners got splits after every 20K.
The 20K loop is a blur to be perfectly honest. Not for any reason other than I have a horrible sense of direction and it all looked the same to me. We chatted with so many people out there and had a little back and forth going on with another girl who we would pass, then she would pass us and so on. I told Marina that no matter what we did out there, we had to beat her. We were only out there to have fun but you've got to get a little competition in somewhere! Every now and then we would come across a man who was taking pictures to prove to his wife that he wasn't out at the bar. This guy takes the prize as having the worlds biggest calves. Every time that he would get ahead of us it's all we could look at. They were mesmerizing! We chatted with an elderly man who was doing the 100 miler. He was all knees and elbows and heart. He came across us as I was talking about being so tired that I wanted to walk in my marathon a few weeks ago. He told us that he wasn't eavesdropping, but if we got caught walking out here we'd be disqualified. We laughed with him for a few minutes over that and then he was off. I hope that he did well.
For the first half of the race we mostly saw the same faces but then we came across a guy who had clearly hurt his ankle and stopped and walked with him for awhile. There were A LOT of hills on this course, way more than I had bargained for and I can only imagine how they were making his ankle feel while trying to make his way to the aid station. Marina offered for him to lean on her but he declined. I then offered for Marina to piggy back him but again he declined. There's no helping some people. LOL We stayed with him for about a km until he finally convinced us that he would be fine and to get running. He didn't want to ruin our race. It was probably another 2K until we finally got to the aid station where we told them about him (well I did, Marina had forgotten about him at this point LOL) and the hills seemed to be one on top of another now. Poor guy, I hope that this wasn't his goal race! He had on a 50K bib so it more than likely was. How disappointing. At this point Marina's tummy was starting to give her trouble so we stopped at the porta potty at the aid station and then took our time taking off our sweaters and refilling our water bottles. I'd say a good 10 minutes was lost here as were all of the familiar faces. The only bibs we were really seeing now were 50K & up. Back of the pack for us but that was alright. I was still having such a fun time.
God I crack myself up!
We spent a lot of time walking now because not only was Marina's belly hurting but also her ribs. This girl was not in good shape! Marina suggested that I go on ahead but I told her no. I was out here for the experience and the laughs!! We trundled on and every now and then we'd start to laugh at the splits that were coming up on my Garmin. "6K to go!" I said at one point. "It should only take us another hour at this rate". At this moment a man passed us and said "Your Garmin is only going to register around 23K because of the hills so you've got less than that to go". He was right. When all was said and done my Garmin read 23.84K. This information put a little spring into everyone's step! Finally the hills seemed to calm down a little bit and we were able to spend more time running than walking. This was also due in part to my yelling "No more walking!" to the girls whenever I'd see them slow down. I think that Robyn silently hated meeting me on this day. We eventually made our way to the last aid station where the ladies there told us only 1km to go! Yippee. What they didn't mention was that 1km included one last trip up the massive hill. The only thing that could have made this final km worse was for it to be covered in the piles of horse crap that all of the other hills on the course were full of. Poor horseys being ridden up those steep hills! We got to the top of the hill and turned on the jets. Turning the corner Marina started to speed up a little so I asked "Are you trying to beat me?!?!". I threw my head back and shared one final laugh. Marina didn't beat me. We both finished at the exact same second. Now how's that for a run with a friend?!
Race you to the finish!
I had such an amazing time at this race, I will definitely do another trail race. How it'll fit in with my training schedule I don't know but the participants were so much friendlier and the scenery of the course was so much nicer than road racing, how could I say no?! My friend Rob's wife is an ultra runner. After hearing that I was at Sulphur Springs he says that he hopes to see me on the ultra circuit in the future. Let's not get too crazy here!!!
Marina Me, Robin, Becky and the third Robin of the day!



  1. Awesome race report... I hope that you can fit it in next year as I am going to run it too. Great job out there!

  2. Looks like you had a great time.

  3. This was a really fun race report for me to read because I am doing my first trail race in just over a week (gulp). I'm a slow and steady road runner so I think the trails might throw me a little. Thanks for sharing, now I have some faith I might actually survive! (And hopefully my race pics look as great as yours!)

  4. Great race report. That photo of you laughing is fantastic...great shot. So happy that you had fun, that's what trail racing is all about. Hope to see you out on the trails again :)

  5. Ok - to clarify, that 10 minute pit-stop did NOT put as at the back of the 25k pack, there were tons of folks still behind us! I think we made AWESOME time considering all our walking, pit-stops, commiserating with injured runners, chatting with big-calved men, and last but not least, the hills! High fives for us, girlfriend. I had a ton of fun, despite my ailing body. ;) Let's do it again! xo

  6. Awesome report, Sam! Absolutely love the photos. I've got this race now on my list for next year.

  7. These photos are so amazing! AMAZING!

    Great race report and well done both of you! Congrats!

  8. So much smiling! That's awesome!

  9. Looks like you had an amazing time! Okay I thought my daughter was the only Marina.....LOL.....I don't know any so was shocked to see the name, not a very common name around here! She must be an awesome lady ;) Okay back to the race, great job and nothing better than enjoying your time out there!

  10. Great Report and it looked like you had an amazing time on this run
    This reminded me of my 25k at Sulphur Spring in 2014. One of my friends lured me into trying a trail race and I did not know what I am getting into. A lot of hills and everything that you mentioned scared me initially. However, the vibe and the atmosphere was very friendly and people would say hello or chat with you and run with you. I ended up running with a stranger for most of the race. Needless to say we were not strangers at the end of the race. 100m into the last big hill we decided to sprint to the finish line and finished on the same second with a big smile on our face. It was a challenging course but the scenery, good weather and GREAT COMPANY more than made up for that.