Sunday, July 17, 2011

Scorched Sole 25k

June 26, 2011

I decided to pop into this race for the 'sole' reason that I was going to be in Kelowna on vacation during this time and therefore thought it was a good opportunity to try something new. Scorched Sole is primarily an ultra event offering both a 50k and 50 Mile option with the 25k and add-on. I was seriously contemplating entering the 50k as my first foray into an ultra distance (also it seemed a good value since the entry fee was the same for all 3 distances). However, coming just 2 weeks before my goal race of the year (qualifying for the Canadian Mountain Running Team), doing the 50k may not have given me sufficient recovery time.

The weather on race day was fairly warm (mid twenties), but not brutally hot. Some of my extended family members came to watch me and Sonja (also doing the 25k) start and finish the race which was great. Unfortunately, they also got to witness me make the first possible navigational error of the course! Literally 5 metres in, the race course veered left onto single track. Apparently, this had been announced, but I had missed it and didn't notice the flagging and ran right past it. I heard some shouting behind me, but didn't initially know that it was directed at me, but soon I looked back and noticed my error. I went from first to last place with the newbie mistake which was a bit embarrassing. However, it was a fairly long race so didn't think it would be a big factor in the end. It did take me about 10 minutes to work my way back to the front as passing in some areas was tough and I didn't want to over stain myself this early.

I pulled myself up to the leader, Marty Bulcock and we ran together for a little while while the course traveled on the paved road for a little while. We then moved back onto trail for the start of the climb and I soon found myself in the lead. The climbing was moderate and mostly comfortable with a few small breaks here and there. After a few kilometers, I popped out on a logging road. I knew this was coming having studied the map prior to the race and resolved to grind out the rest of the climb (there was over 1100m of elevation gain in total). It was initially quite tough to keep running as the grade was steep and the road fully exposed to the midday sun (the race started at 11am). Fortunately, the grade soon softened a bit and after a while, some clouds rolled in making it more bearable.

Based on my previous results from 25k races, I had anticipated to hit the turn-around in this out and back course at the 60-70 min mark (I found out after the race that we actually covered at least 27k which explains some of this misjudgement). As I cranked away and first the 1 hour mark passed and then 1:10, the climbing started to take its toll - I managed to run everything, but barely. Finally, after about 1:20 of climbing, the turn around point with aid station (also shared with the 50k and 50 Mile courses) came to view. With great relief and happily grabbed flat coke, a couple of chips, refilled my water bottle and headed back down.

I passed Marty after about 5 minutes so knew I had a solid lead. Third place was held by a woman and less than a minute behind I was happy to see that Sonja was forth overall! The downhill was a nice relief from the climbing, but punishing itself since it was so sustained. I pushed fairly hard, but didn't destroy myself as much as I would have if I was in a tough battle for position. The toughest part was the paved section once back on the road since it contained a few small climbs which the battered legs didn't appreciate. I crossed in 2:13:48, slower than expected (mostly due the increased distance and slightly tougher climb than expected). I was happy to be done and had a nice time hanging out at the beach getting massage and taking a dip in the water which waiting for others to finish. Marty finished about 15 min back. Sonja came close to winning the woman's' division passing Liza Pye on the decent, but didn't have enough left to hold her off on the final road section. Fourth overall is a great result though!

I was happy to complete the race, but likely wouldn't do the 25k again on this course as the long road climb wasn't much fun. It was a low key event, but well organized. The announcer had even done research on entrants and know some of everyone's racing bios which was pretty cool. In retrospect, I was happy not to have done the 50k as it turned out to be a tough one with the winner coming in in just under 7 hours (the 50 Mile winner took over 11 hours!).


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