Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thetis 20K Relay

November 11, 2008

The Thetis 20k relay is the first of a series of 3 races hosted by the Prairie Inn Harriers (PIH) that take place at Thetis Lake Regional Park. The Gunner Shaw 10k is on Nov 29th and the Stewart Mountain 10 Mile takes place on Dec 13th. The relay is a fun event that attracts a large number of racers every year and a deep talent pool (this year it sold out at 600 racers and probably a dozen or so runners capable of sub 35min 10k times). The race is very low key and there are no race numbers and teams time themselves, but that certainly does not dampen the enjoyment.

Due to a mis-communication, it turned out that I was not on the original team that I thought I was going to be on. Therefore, I arrived early to see if I could join with another team who might be looking for a member. I ended up joining a team with Bruce Martell, Jason Terauchi-Loutitt and captain Hicham Elamiri. It was a solid team and Jason in particlar is a speed demon who turned in a 1:09:00 Comox Valley Half Marathon earlier this year. Michael Lord was originally also on the team, but was also running for another team so he graciously allowed me to join Hicham's team. The weather was cool and there was a small amount of drizzle, just enough to get everything nice and muddy. Why I chose to wear a white shirt, I'm not sure since it sure didn't stay that way.

Unfortunately while joining my new team I failed to find out what leg I was going to be running. When I finally found them again with only about 3 min to go before race start, I found out that I would be running the first lap! Despite the fact that I had not done a warm up and was still wearing pants and jacket I said, "OK, why not," and managed to pull off my outer layers and lined up on the start line. Soon enough we were off at a brisk clip. Within the first few hundred meters I found myself in 6th place. The pace was hard, but within what I believed I could sustain for the approx 5km course around upper Thetis Lake. By about the halfway mark I had passed one runner and managed to catch a group of 3 runners who were chasing the leader, Kris Swanson who had gone out very fast and was out of site. I was feeling pretty good that I had closed the gap on these racers and had even pulled into 4th place when we came to the bridge at the northwest end of Upper Thetis Lake. I must have been concentrating too hard on other racers because before I had any idea what had gone wrong, I was skidding on my side down the bridge at full speed. I slid right to the end and hopped to my feet. It might have looked cool had I intended to initiate such a slide. Luckily I felt that I had escaped any major injuries and didn't lose much time or my place. Unfortunately, any crashes during a race still end up having a detrimental effect on the remainder of the race. Typically you get a bit of a shot of adrenaline from going down, but this only lasts a short time and then dissipates and soon everything feels much harder than before. Also I find that when working so hard during a race any interruption (like a fall) kills your rhythm and hurts performance. Needless to say the last 2km of the race really hurt. Luckily I managed to hang on at a decent pace and actually passed the 3rd place guy. However, Stefan Jakobsen in 2nd place pulled away and I just didn't have enough in me to keep up. I pulled into the transition zone in 3rd place at 17:12 (4 sec faster than my time last year) and handed off to Bruce. Hicham went third and Jason ran anchor. The other 3 ran clean races and we posted a total time of 1:10:28, good enough for 4th place overall (and 4th place in our category). The winner was a team of two Kris Swanson and Scott Simpson who each ran two laps in about 16min each and posted a blistering total time of 1:04:10. Second place went to Frontrunners Westshore and third to the National Triathlon Centre team. Final results are here.

It was great to see so many other runners out for this event. I really enjoy the positive camaraderie in the running community here. Everyone likes to run fast and win, but there is little arrogance to be found. I hope that PIH continues to host this relay and that other local relays will take place as they are a fun alternative to a traditional race.

Enjoying a nice dip in Thetis Lake after the race - photo credit: Adam Lawrence

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