Thursday, June 3, 2010

Westwood Lake Gutbuster Half

May 30, 2010

I enjoy these sorts of trail races and it was a nice change of pace from all the road races I have been doing this year. I wasn't sure how my legs would feel on this one as did a workout the day before consisting of 6x1km (1min rest) and 4x45sec (1min rest). While I held back a bit knowing that I would be racing in less than 24 hours, it was still not super easy. It would be a good test to see how I fared in a race on somewhat fatigued legs. Even if I suffered on the course, the fact that it wasn't a goal race meant I didn't have a lot on the line.

The course was new this year although it was fairly similar to the the way it was in past years (except 2009 which had quite a different course). I estimate that there was at least 30% new trail that I had never run on before. The main differences were more gentle climbs, more single track, and less road. I quite enjoyed the course as it had a good about of somewhat technical terrain which was 100% runnable.

I knew that I would not walk away with an easy win on this course. The field was strong with Michael Liedtke, Shelby Drope, Nick Walker, Shaun Stephens-Whale, and Shawn Nelson all in attendance. I race against and train with Nick and Shawn so know what they are capable of. I knew for sure that Shawn would be tough to beat unless I was on and he was off. He is a solid climber, good on the technical terrain and downhills, and very strong on the flats. Shaun would also be stiff competition as he climbs like gravity doesn't exist.

The start was pretty fast with Shaun moving at a brisk pace that seemed a little fast to me although the first km or so is flat so it didn't feel too tough. We made our way around Westwood Lake and started the climb. Shaun was still in the lead and Shelby close behind. I didn't want to overtax myself so early in the race so I tucked into behind Shawn who in turn trailed just behind Michael. The trail was a fairly new one and was somewhat technical with a lot of little humps which necessitated paying close attention to your footing. The climb was much more gradual than in years past and I found it quite runnable and enjoyable.

Michael was going just a little slower than I would have on my own and I was very temped to move ahead especially since Shaun and Shelby had moved out of sight, but I continued to hold myself back a bit knowing that there would be plenty of time to expend any extra energy I might have. Finally though, Swawn decided to make a move and I took the opportunity to go with him. We gradually gained on Shelby on the decent from the highest point on the course and by the time we popped out onto the hydro right of way, the 3 of us were all pretty even.

I managed to power past Shelby at the puddle which was good and wet this year, but Shawn was probably 10 seconds ahead at this point. The course descended down and through the creek as it has in previous years. When I got back to the main double track, I was shocked to find that Shawn had gained a massive amount on me and was at least 30 seconds ahead now. This was a bit demoralizing as it seemed as though I was still moving at a respectable pace. I later learned that that the two leaders (and many others) had inadvertently taken the bridge rather than the actual course though the creek. In the end, it didn't really matter that much since I finished well behind the leaders, but at the time it seemed as though I had somehow come to a standstill.

We soon started our 2nd main ascent into the area known as The Abyss. This is a longish gradual climb that makes you work to maintain good speed, but it not too cruel. I moved along pretty well and managed to gain enough time on Shelby until he was no longer in sight behind me. This area was then followed by a good amount of narrow single track interspersed with a couple road sections and clear cuts. I really quite enjoyed the extra single track and didn't miss the large gravel road sections from previous years. We gradually made our way towards Colliery Dam and the course soon intersected with the short course and I soon found myself passing a large number of the short course mid pack runners. After the dam, we had a bit of a grunt of a climb on the paved roads and paths back up and under the highway before moving back onto trails.

At this point there were only few kilometers left in the course. I was feeling the fatigue in my legs now, although my engine still had good power. There was a one more small climb after which there was was about 1km left. I ran steady, but with no one in sight in front or behind me, there was little incentive to kill myself. I did, howver, surged to the finish line and passed a short course racer who thought I was in his race and tried to match me. "I'm in the long course" I shouted as I passed him as only seemed fair to let him know that he was not losing a position. I finished in 1:45:25 in 3rd place about a minute ahead of Nick and Shelby who came in 4th and 5th respectively. Shawn and Shaun obviously hammered the course though, finishing about 6 and 5 minutes ahead of me. I hadn't expected to beat Shawn, but I had hoped to be closer. He is obviously very fit these days and I expect to see him post some impressive times in upcoming races. Overall, I was satisfied with my performance which I would describe as average.

Since the course was enjoyed by myself and everyone else I talked to, I hope they keep it similar in future years. Most people I talked to had solid races including Andrew Pape-Salmon who placed 8th overall, Garth Campbell who performed well in his first trail race of the year, and Sonja who picked up 2nd in her age category. Thanks to Mark Nelson and Nick Walker at Frontrunners Westshore for hosting another successful event! Long Course Results. Short Course Results.

No comments:


Free Blog Counter
Poker Blog