Tuesday, August 14, 2012

the start and finish line

Dirty Girls Ultra 2012

Friday August 10. 
I was originally  planning to relate this report in analogical order, but when I stated to relate the events as they happened to my wife, Her eyes went very big and she exclaimed,"you Guys are nuts!"
So I will talk about my impressions first..
Roger relaxing after a dinner of his wife`s Chilly
I absolutely LOVE this Race! It is 8k loops of single track up and down the Mansfield ski area. I had expected a muddy slippery trail, after three days of rain, But the sandy clay held up extremely well. Only a small section got slippery, after 48hr of racing!

I picked Roger up at his home in St. Jacobs in the rain and by the time we got to Airport Rd, it was raining hard, pounding on the car like hammers. The traffic had slowed to a crawl and Roger commented that he could only see 10 feet. I tried to re-assure him by reminding him that I saw clearly about 5 feet at best and had many years of safe driving. This did not seem to relax him.
We arrived and successfully pitched our tent and tarps with minimal water seeping in. I had a 100 year old Hudson's Bay blanket and it was fantastic at soaking up the excess water. My wife had a fit when she heard but I am sure her Grandmother would have approved.
We set up next to Rhonda-Marie Avery, her husband, daughter and friend Nicole. We were all planing to guide Rhonda a B3 runner through the 24hr Ultra Saturday.

Roger cooked up his wife`s fantastic Chilly for dinner and we really stuffed ourselves. "Just a note for next time." we discovered that although delicious, 5 bean Chilly may have not been the best choice meal before a 24 hr. Ultra far from a washroom.

At 8:00am Roger and I started the 6hr and Rhonda and her husband as a guide started the 24hr. Roger disappeared in to the rain and mist. A few laps later I came upon Rhonda and a new guide, who was directing her around roots, rocks, trees and the odd log, as the course weaved up and down the Mansfield Hills. About this time Roger came roaring by me as he lapped me. I followed him and we both made a bee line to the porta-pottys. The Chilly revenge! I heard a door slam and Roger was on his way again.I elected to go to the tent to change out of my wet gear into a dry outfit, as the rain was easing. It was all to no avail as the skies opened again and I was soaked in a few miles.
The trail was holding up extremely well so other than the mud sweat and rain in my eyes it was a pleasant run to the 6hr cut off time at 2:00pm. I crashed in my tent in my wet clothes and fell sound asleep!

The amazing Rhonda was still doing laps with her guides.

At 6:00pm Roger woke me for dinner and it had finally stopped raining.
Joe and his nice Natalee from Texas were doing the 24hr and although Joe continued to circulate the course, Natalee was having severe blister problems.

Rhonda came in with guide Lynn for dinner at around 7:00pm. She looked great considering she had been on her feet for 12hrs.Logistically she was ahead on her quest for a trail 100k record.

I changed in to my brightest out fit but guide Bronwyn had to leave for Toronto that night so we switched shifts and she arrived back with Rhonda after 10:00pm. After some food and a washroom break Rhonda and I were on our way about 10:30pm when the rain started again.
I had practiced running at night with a head lamp on the Hamilton trails, but this was totally different. The trail was single track in the deep woods, with large tree roots,rocks,logs and steep decent and climbs.
Rhonda was excellent, keeping two steps behind me responding instantly to my voice. The rain and fog caused the beam from my light to bounce back into my eye so I was forced to use the weaker flood light only and kept slamming into roots and stumps. Rhonda would hear my curse, and always seemed to avoid my pit fall!
Time seemed suspended as we moved along in our cocoon of light, my voice droning on and on, " Toes up root. toes up root, step up root, stump right, left turn (%##%##) step over log." I would hear Rhonda mumble "2.5 log" and realized that she had memorized the course.
Just before the half way aid station , I felt a change in Rhonda,. We had slowed to a crawl, she was dragging her leg. When we got to the Aid station she lay on the wet ground for a while and begged the attendant to pull on her leg. She thought it might relieve some of her pain. It was almost thirty minutes before we got moving slowly again. It was after 1:00am when we arrived back at the tent where her husband worked frantically on her hip and leg. We had been on the loop for 3hrs.
Roger left with Rhonda after 2:00am. She could walk but not run. We did the Math and realized she would not make the 100k before the cut off time at 8:00 am.
I set my alarm for 4:00am but could not sleep so I went and "bugged" Henri and super Ultra Mom in the kitchen tent in til they put me to work handing out hot soup and supplies to the runners arriving in their beams of their head lamps and then disappearing down the tunnel of darkness, to do one more lap, just one more lap! It choked me up, to beautiful for words!
Roger arrived in his own pool of light shortly after. Rhonda had stopped at 80k...
Joe & Natalee crashed at 24hrs
We were both relieved!!

Roger and I  returned to our tent as the sun was rising. Next to us 24hr Ultra runners Joe and Natalee were asleep in their tent their bare feet out in the rain. Joe had done 100+k and Natalee with blisters 70+k

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