After running my first 100k at Black Canyon in 2016 I was excited to return this year. With my training and experience I expected to improve on my time by 2 hours. Then due to flooding then race was changed from a net downhill point-to-point to an out-and-back. This did not change my race plan or expectations.
The Saturday weather forecast was revised from 20mm of rain (a normal Vancouver day) to 50mm and close to freezing temperatures. This worried me so I packed all the rain and warmth running gear I could find.
We started at 7am in the cold rain which reminded me of so many North Vancouver runs. The first 3km on the road was fine but when we turned onto the Black Canyon trail runners hit the thick desert mud. With every step my shoes stuck in the mud and my foot even came out a couple times. When I managed to lift a shoe it was caked with 5 pounds of mud like concrete weights. This lasted for a few km until we got on single track trail then there was just normal runnable mud.
I focused on nutrition, hydration, pace and blister prevention. When I reached the 50km turnaround point I was behind schedule but running well and in good spirits. I made it to 75km before needing my headlamp. As the sun went down the temperature plummeted and the rain and wind turned on full force. I was soaked, freezing and borderline hypothermic when I ran into the 80km aid station. It was filled with dozens of runners in bad shape drinking hot soup and huddling around a propane heater.
|All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy|
I grabbed my drop bag, stripped off all the wet layers and put on every piece of dry clothing I could find including 3 hats. A volunteer made me a garbage bag poncho that helped significantly shield the wind and rain. I met another runner named Josh and we set out into the cold wet night. The next 10km was tolerable and we actually managed a decent pace.
|Go to the Dagobah system!|
The final aid station was at 90km and we took a long break to eat and get warm. Over 100 runners DNF’d due to the cold wet conditions. The final 10km was harder and colder than I imagined. The rain turned to hail and there were shin deep puddles of water and mud. After 22 weeks of training I wasn’t going to quit without getting my Western States lottery ticket.
After 16 hours and 20 minutes I crossed the finish line. It was so cold, windy and wet that there was no one there. A guy popped his head out of a heated trailer to get our bib numbers.
This was not a good race day but I finished sub-17 to get my Western States lottery ticket. I learned a lot about relentless forward progress in the face of harsh and adverse conditions and I suspect this will benefit my adventures for years to come.
|Ritual post-race poutine|