Friday, December 12, 2008

Gunner Shaw 10K, Vancouver

December 6, 2008

The Stewart Mountain race is tomorrow so I decided that I better get this race report completed before then. I do most of my races on Vancouver Island for practical reasons, but there are a ton of great races over in the Vancouver area which are great to do for a change of pace. Getting to this particular race was actually quite easy as Bob Reid kindly organized two vehicles to head over specifically for this race.

For those who don't know, both this race and the race I participated in last weekend in Victoria are named in honour of Bruce 'Gunner' Shaw who died in car accident in1984. I of course never knew the man, but he was quite a running legend in Victoria back in the 70's and 80's. It sounds like he was great competitor and a pleasure to know.

We met up with the other Harriers at 6am and headed north to catch the ferry to Vancouver. A number of people that I often see on Tue night training where there along with some new faces. The contingent consisted of a large range of ages and running abilities. That is the great thing about running, we may all come from different generations and backgrounds, but we all share the same passion.

Some of my fellow Harriers

The race is held at Jericho Beach in West Vancouver. I'd never actually been there so it was a nice to see a new local. We arrived over 1.5 hours early so we had plenty of time to prepare. It was a wet day, but temperatures were good for racing. A few of the Harriers who had come over on previous years showed us some of the course during a 15 min warm up. I have not raced too many true Cross Country races as this one is billed as. They generally don't appeal to me since they usually consist of non-technical grass and trail surfaces and two or more laps of the same course. If I'm not going to be running on the road, I prefer some hills and single track as this better suits my strengths and is more interesting. However, Gunner Vancouver is a definitely more of a 'real' cross country race. The course is still a two lap race with little elevation change (only two very small hills), but it did contain a large number of surfaces including grass, sand, mud, water, dirt, and gravel.

Most of the Harriers where wearing red club singlets so we definitely looks like a team while standing at the start line. As usual I assessed my competition although this was a more difficult task since I don't know most of the runners from the mainland. Nick Best had come over with us and I knew that we would likely run very well, especially now since he has been training with Jon Brown, a two time Olympian in the marathon (and a 4th place finisher in both). Also in attendance was Brad Cunningham who had just edged me out last week that the Victoria Gunner. There were also a couple of other racers who looked liked they could be fast runners, but appearance can often be deceiving. My race strategy was to try to run close to Brad and I know that he generally paces himself well and has run this course before. I was hoping to have a solid race as I felt the that any lingering effects from my cold should be gone and my training recently has generally been pretty consistent. I have even set a few best times in the last couple of months on some routes that I train on so I knew that my fitness level was at least good as earlier in the year.

The first km of the race was on grass, then course turned onto the beach where we had to run a few hundred meters on lose sand. This was very tough as so much energy is wasted with each step that it is worse than running up a pretty steep incline. After that, we were back on the grass, then some mud and a little hill, some trail, down a slope, some gravel trail, then shallow water, and some more trail. Near the end of the first lap, I was in the front pack with Nick, Brad, and two other guys name of Patrick Goeres and Kevin O'Connor and I thought things were going pretty well. Soon though Patrick and Nick began to pull away a bit and that left Brad, Kevin and I to battle it out. I was feeling fairly good until the beach which hurt at least twice as much the second time around. I fell back a few strides, but did make it back up once we hit the grass again. I was right behind both of them when we hit the downhill slope, it was pretty slick and I slipped a bit near the top, but managed to recover. I thought I was home free, but on the last stride of the hill, my foot sank into a boggy area and before I knew it I was down. It was a very minor fall, but as I mentioned in my relay report, it was an interruption which threw my rhythm off a little. It also allow Brad and Kevin to get a few strides I me which in the end I was unable to get back. I normally try to finish the last km of a race at a least the same pace as my average, but on this day I just didn't have it. I lost about 40 sec on the second lap compared to the first and while not a total disaster, this just wasn't a great race for me. I finished in 5th place in 36:12. Part of the reason for my lack of energy might have been my lack of sleep the night before (less than 5 hours) and earlier in the week, but that is only speculation.

Patrick ended out edging Nick by a few seconds for the win just over a minute ahead of me. Of note is that the in the competition between the Harriers and Lions Gate Road Runners we picked up the open woman's and master's trophies thanks to some strong performances from our members. Unfortunately, We were narrowly edged out of the open men's title. Results are here. Even though I didn't perform as well as I would have liked, it was still a fun day and it was nice to try a new race in a new venue. I would definitely recommend it and they even had pizza after the race!

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