This past Saturday morning Lori and I ran the Powderface 42 Half Marathon. We registered for this race a few months ago, right when registration opened. We had heard that it should be a good race, and that it filled up quickly, so we signed up as soon as registration opened. At the time I don’t think the exact course map was posted, or we weren’t aware of what the exact course would be. Last summer we did a run starting from the Powderface parking lot on the Powderface ridge trail, it was a really hard run, with a lot of really steep climbing in the first half. This is what we thought we were signing up for, and we were a little afraid.Well fast forward to a week or so before the race, when emails started coming from the race director, I went and looked at the website and saw the course map. We had just run most of the course just a week earlier in a training run! Sure it was hilly as most of the trails in the area are, but it didn’t seem as hard as we had remembered Powderface ridge to be.
Good question. I had
roped/ begged/ cajoled/suggested Lori and I sign up for this race and our next one (Moose Mountain) with the promise that we’d just take them easy, have fun, run them as training runs. I’m really good at coming up with these sorts of brilliant plans, but not as good at following through. I really like racing. Still, the plan was to just RUN this one, or at least only sort of race it, maybe just a bit. I kept my week leading up to the race fairly easy, and did a mini taper.
Lori and I met in Bragg Creek the morning of the race so that we could car pool the rest of the way. We arrived at the race start about an hour before start time. We were on our way to the washrooms when we saw Majo, a local ultra runner and InkNBurn Elite runner that I’ve gotten to know via social media. He had come down to see some runners, and to get in his last run before Sinister 7 (a totally badass 100 miler) this coming weekend. It was fun because we also got to meet Alissa St Laurent (another local amazing ultra runner who’s running Sinister) and Eric Reyes (yet another local elite ultra runner). It’s been super fun to get to know other trail and ultra runners in our community, and I’m looking forward to meeting more!
We chatted away most of our extra time, so had to hurry and have a bathroom visit and get to the start line where we checked in (with awesome Fabulous Tina another running blogger), and minutes later we were off! For the first few km’s my legs felt heavy, my ankles and calves were sore and stiff. I’d spent the early part of the week camping and running trails in my Altra zero drop shoes, so perhaps more having more runs than I’m used to in zero drop worked my calves more? No matter, once I got warmed up, I felt good. The out section of the race has a lot of up, and a bit of down, we just chugged along, hiking the hills, and running the downs. Lori is a super speedy walker, so I’m always having to pick my feet up and move to keep up to her during these hiking segments, it’s good for me to be pulled along for these!
We got to the first aid station and a volunteer told us we were 4/5th women, we were a little surprised considering we had started with more women than that in front of us and hadn’t passed many. We half believed him, but also half wondered if he was right. I grabbed a wedge of watermelon from the aid station and we carried on. Lori made sure to remind me that we were NOT here to win this thing but just to run and have a good time. We joked about “Stormy”, from Sally McRae’s Western States Race Report (which by the way you absolutely should read if you have not!). I think I have a little of “Stormy” in me, and had to keep her under wraps for most of this race.
Not too long after the aid station, we got onto the out and back portion of the race, and the leaders started to pass us. The lead man and woman were both really far ahead of most of their competitors, and were flying. Just before the race, Jessica Kaiser, who won for the females had come by the group we were chatting with and asked Lori and I if we were the speedy ladies that she was going to be racing today, umm Nope! I think we must have looked really fast standing next to Majo, Alissa and Eric.
We continued on and came to the turnaround point, in the Powderface parking lot. This is where we had started our hard trail run from last year, and where the marathoners would continue running from, we were glad to be running the half this weekend. Once we turned around we started to encounter more runners coming towards us, most of them politely stepped up hill off the path and let us run past, but a few didn’t. I wanted to mention, just incase there are any new trail runners reading this, that it is etiquette, especially in trail races, for the people who are behind and coming to a turnaround to give way to the people who are leading them. It makes for a much smoother passing on a narrow trail. It’s especially important when the actual leaders go by.
The route back stayed on the same stretch for a bit, and then returned on a different trail, that was a bit less hilly, and had a ton of fun runnable downhill single track. These are some of my favorite types of trail to run on, I just get fired up racing on single track trail that has a bit of a technical nature, so that you have to pay attention to where you step. I may have let “Stormy” come out a bit during this section. Once again we had been told that we were higher up 3/4 or even 2/3 maybe? We had passed a girl or two, and knew that there weren’t many in front of us. The race had really gone by fast, and was super fun. Once we got to around 1-2 km’s from the end, when we were passing some mountain bikers coming towards us, I took a bad step and rolled my ankle a bit, luckily I was able to run it off, and within a hundred meters it felt fine to run on. We rolled into the finish right next to each other, and were told that we were 4/5th place or tied for 4th! Awesome!
This was a super fun race, it was really well organized by 5 Peaks (I think it was their first year taking over this race), and I’d totally do it again if it fit in my calendar. The biggest problem will be that it’s limited to only 150 runners, and sells out super fast, so you have to know early on whether you want to run it. I’ve got some big thoughts on next year, so don’t know if it’ll fit in, but I’d love to run it (and even maybe bump it up to the marathon) next year!