On Saturday May 9 I “Got Off the Road” and ran my first 5peaks trail race! If you read the blog post I wrote announcing that I was going to participate in it, you would have expected that I ran in Cochrane and had ice cream afterwards. That was not the case! Instead of Cochrane, I ran in Fish Creek Park and instead of ice cream, I had sushi from my favourite sushi restaurant (which is now open for lunch on Saturday, hooray!). About 2 weeks before the race, 5peaks sent out an e-mail to let us know that the race location had changed from Cochrane to Sikome Lake at Fish Creek Park. I had no complaints. Well, the slightly longer drive for me was the only thing that I frowned about but not for long because I LOVE RUNNING IN FISH CREEK PARK. Seriously, every October I run Harvest Half Marathon because of its location which is through Fish Creek Park. It’s just stunning in the fall.
So, more about this race. I kind of don’t know where to begin. I guess it started with getting an e-mail from the new Race Director, Kevin McDonald, or “HOUDA” as he’s called. Hmm, now I’m thinking I talked to him without realizing it was him. Clearly I need to work on my networking skills. Or perhaps manners? The e-mail was awesome because it included lots of humour and lots of detail, both of which I love, probably because they’re part of my personality :D Details included such things as race location, schedule of events, sponsors that would be present, safety info, HOUDA’s phone number and notes about parking, recycling, etc. I knew exactly what to expect going into the race, or so I thought.
I arrived by 9:15am and found some parking. I ran the Sports course (6.10kms) which didn’t start until 10:15am; the Enduro course (11.5kms) started at 10am. This gave me plenty of time to eat a banana, get my race bib and freaking awesome 5peaks Buff® as pictured below and socialize with all of the runners I knew there. While we waited for our race to start, there was a 1km and 3km Kids race which is always an awesome thing. My future children will be totally be doing these races, hopefully they want to and I’m not forcing them into it. Not that I’m against forcing my kids to run though ;)
The morning was actually incredibly sunny, completely opposite of the weather the weekend before when I did a 15K race in icy wind. I ended up taking off my long sleeve tee and racing in a tank top which resulted in the beauty that is pictured to the right. I realized later that I had sunscreen in my SUV and could have prevented the burn, whoops!
The route started with a HUGE hill climb which I power walked, or hiked as I like to say. Not long after there was a HUGE hill that we ran down, or in my case shuffled down because I was scared of bailing (you should see me going down a hill on my bike, so pathetic). I didn’t even think that we would have to later run back up that hill but luckily that realization didn’t happen until later in the race. The course was mostly run on single track which means when people are passing you (from behind or coming back in the opposite direction), you have to move over. I spent a bit of time running in the tall grass/dried stuff that’s not quite grass but I don’t know how else to describe it. I personally think this made it incredibly FUN, like a proper obstacle course that doesn’t involve jumping into mud or crawling through barbed wire. Half-way through is the turn around and we are greeted with water! I ran with some electrolytes as I usually do but water is always welcomed, especially on a hot day. I had lots of the Enduro course runners pass me on the way back and was super impressed with how many of them (all men, interestingly enough) yelled words of encouragement even though they were super fast and clearly better than us. Haha, just kidding but some super fast runners do think they’re better than slower runners. I guess time-wise they are, but that doesn’t make them more of a runner than slower runners, does it? I’m actually “more runner” than a lot of them, if you know what I mean :D And if you don’t I mean that a lot of them are thinner than me. And some of the mean wear shorter shorts than I ever would in public… So, back on track (get it?), once I made it to the top of the hill that we originally ran down, it was a short pathway run until we had another hill to go down and then a finish line to cross. At the finish line, all of the kids had lined up and were giving us high-fives (or low-fives for us adults) and that was one of the cutest things I’ve ever experienced at the end of a race. The race actually went by quite quickly because I was having so much fun. I finished and thought “when can I do this again?”
I found my friend Sophia not long after crossing, she was in the food line which I quickly joined as well. There was a great variety of post-race snacks including Muscle Milk, Munchie Mix (OMG I used to love this stuff! Still do, just don’t eat it), mini Cliff Bars, cookies, popcorn (I think), bananas, orange slices and cold strawberries. The strawberries were incredible! I am SO keeping some in a cooler after all of my summer races. I think the only thing that could top them would be watermelon slices. One really cool thing that 5peaks does is being committed to reducing waste. You're encouraged to bring your own plate for post-race snacks (there are napkins if you need them) and you need your own cup or mug for water, coffee and electrolytes. I personally LOVE their super organized (there I go again) bins for recycling, compost, refundables and garbage! It makes my inner BC girl SO happy!
We chatted and watched our pregnant friend Shannon cross the finish line with her friend Haley at which point I went over to the Announcer and let him know that Shannon was 2 weeks out from giving birth. Photo evidence below; incredible isn’t she? Shannon is actually the one who convinced me to run the Grizzly Ultra trail race as part of a relay team back in 2012. She ran the 50K. I know, insane and amazing. Back to the Announcer: he was fabulous!!! Seriously, so natural at his job, funny, entertaining and really great at engaging the crowd. Not much later my friend and 5peaks Ambassador Tina came across the finish line. Tina and I met via the Calgary Marathon ForeRunners as we’re both a part of it this year.
To summarize, this race was incredible! I had so much fun, enjoyed the supportive atmosphere, the swag is awesome (they have something different at each of the five races), the route was great, the food was delicious, parking was ample and convenient and even though I didn’t win a door prize I appreciate that they have such a good variety of them. The only way they could be better is to offer a finisher's medal for all racers; I love medals! I highly, highly recommend the 5peaks trail running series to anyone who’s a runner. If you’re like me and only run road races, I encourage you to “Get Off the Road” and sign up for one of their races. Race 2 is in Canmore on June 14. I’ve already planned to run Millarville Half Marathon’s 8 mile race the day before and Joey and I are walking in the Dog Jog on June 14 so I’ll miss it. I’m certainly going to aim to run Race 3 on July 18, assuming it doesn’t conflict too much with my marathon training plan for that day.
Have you run a 5peaks race? Tell me about it! If not, let me know if you’re planning to run one and I may see you there!