Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The North Face Dirty Feet 50k Race Report

If someone asked me to design a race course that not only played to my strengths but was also stunningly beautiful, I don't think I could do much better than The North Face Dirty Feet 50k course in Kalamalka Park near Vernon. With long, runnable climbs and fun, flowy descents that were more interesting than technical, this race was perfect for me. I even encountered a big brown bear along the way - how cool is that?!

With the 50k race starting at 7am, Dave and I decided to drive our new VW van Betty White up to Vernon on Saturday to camp out. This was partially for practical reasons and partially because we wanted an excuse to take BW on her first road trip.

Our drive up valley went smoothly and we tootled around a bit once we got to Vernon trying to decided where to camp for the night. After checking out a few forest rec sites and one rather unappealing private campground, we ended up at the lovely Kekuli Bay Provincial Park located on Kalamalka Lake.

Here we are...Dora, Dave, me and Betty White
We relaxed for a bit, had an early dinner and caught up with our friend Neil who was doing the Dirty Feet 25k race (along with Dave) and was camping nearby. Then we set multiple alarms for 5am and went to bed. I had an okay but not great night of sleep, which isn't uncommon for me before a race, and awoke before any of the alarms went off. Getting up at the crack of dawn isn't so bad when the day breaks as beautifully as it did on Sunday.

As I dug into a steaming bowl of oatmeal, I admired the clear blue skies and listened to the cheerful chirping of some little birdies. It was very peaceful and I had a good feeling about the day. Having recently had a couple of blah weeks of running when I struggled to mentally and physically commit to my training, I wasn't sure how I'd make out in the race, but in this one happy moment, I knew that it would be okay. Whatever happened.

Once BW the VW was all packed up, we headed to the race site. We were running a bit late so I had to forgo my warm up. Oh well. The race started with nearly 4k of gentle climbing so I bypassed warm altogether and went right to hot and sweaty. I went out with the lead men at what I felt was quite a conservative and comfortable pace. By the time we started descending, I was in third place and held that position for the duration of the race. (I finished the race in second overall so either I got by one of the lead men without noticing it or someone dropped out. I'm still not entirely sure what happened.)

The 50k course was two laps of the 25k course and there were two substantial climbs per loop followed by sweet, single-track descents. There were few flat sections of the course - it was very rolly polly, swirly twirly and tons of fun! And the views - wow - just amazing! Every direction you looked, it was picture worthy. (See for yourself on the BC Race Review website.)
 
Photo credit: BC Race Review


Photo credit: Furlan Fotography
Fortunately, much of the course offered some shade because it was hot..really hot. I'm guessing high 20s and maybe even in the low 30s. I had packed along some salt pills and thank goodness I did. I think I would have been in serious trouble otherwise. Even after taking all my salt tabs and as much eLoad as I could get my hands on at the aid stations, I still felt pretty dehydrated.
I wasn't even close to a negative split for my two laps, but I felt like time flew by on the second loop and before I knew it, I was cruising down the finishing chute and then, after a brief stop to grab some food, I continued down to the lake for my first - brief - dip of the year. Ahhhh...so refreshing!

Now I don't want to cherry pick my races and I don't expect to love every trail I run, but it feels really good to find a course that you're excited about on a day when you're feeling good and conditions are favourable. That doesn't happen every race so I really value the times when everything falls so perfectly into place.

For more info on the Dirty Feet trail series (plus all that good stuff like results and upcoming events), go to their website: www.dirtyfeet.ca.