Special to the Record
As the hours wound down to the start of the Elk/Beaver Ultra in Victoria on May 10, I found myself wrestling with the pre-race “What ifs?”: What if I go out too fast, and cramp up? What if the weather turns foul? What if my training wasn’t sufficient? What if my stomach upsets?
Running ultra-marathon distances has its risks, because you’re pushing your body to extremes and trying to run as far as you can, as fast as possible.
Around 5 a.m., without having had much sleep, Russ Green and I checked out of the Elk Lake Hojo’s Hotel near the race start. It was his first attempt at completing 100 kms; I was there to improve on my 50 mile (80 km) personal best finish time set the year before.
In the cool of the early morning we joined a crowd of ultra-runners on the grass behind the starting line at Elk Lake Park, and set off at an easy pace, following a 10 km loop trail that wound through forests and fields next to the Elk/Beaver lakes. This was convenient, because we could keep a self-serve aid station near the start, and access it before pushing on to complete our next loop.
I had to keep patient when the 50 km distance runners were pushing the pace. This paid off when four hours into the ultra I reached the 40 km mark with lots of gas still in the tank. While I changed out my shoes at my aid station I met up with Russ who was looking strong heading out on his fifth loop. I didn’t see him again until after I had finished.
A great sense of exhilaration hit me as I came toward the finish on the last loop. Under my previous time for this distance by almost an hour and 40 minutes, coming in at 9:13, I was pleased. And I ended up awarded second place in Men’s Masters.
Russ soon came through our aid station with one loop left to go. It was still possible for him to complete the 100 km before the 12-hour cut off time, but he would have to push the pace. I gave him a couple of my power gels to get him through the last kilometres.
With seven minutes to spare, I spotted Russ emerge from the forest shrouded trail. We cheered him in to the finish where he was awarded third place in Men’s Masters.