Saturday, August 11, 2018

Idaho Peak Ultra

Had you asked me immediately after crossing the finish line if I enjoyed the Idaho Peak Ultra, I think I would have had a hard time answering. My initial feeling upon finishing is that I was very glad to be done and wouldn't want to do it again. With hindsight, though, I can honestly say that it was a great race and I will likely go back next year.

Finally finished!

There aren't a lot of races that I want to return to, especially in consecutive years, but sometimes you have to make exceptions to your own silly, arbitrary rules. There are two main reasons I'd go back to Idaho Peak. One is completely ego driven - at the finish, I found out that I'd missed the course record by about two minutes and since I don't feel like I ran my best race this year, I want to see how I do when I'm not fighting a migraine. And on a day that's a few (or 10!) degrees cooler.  

The second - and more important factor - is that I received this highly unusual trophy that is mine for the year, but must be returned. I don't imagine I can easily ship it through Canada Post so I guess I'll be hand delivering it and if I'm going to be in the neighbourhood anyway, I might as well race, right.

One of a kind trophy art

My one regret for this race was underestimating the elevation gain (approximately 2,200 metres over 45km according to the race website, although my Garmin showed it being a bit less for both elevation and distance). Whatever the exact numbers are, it's a shitload of climbing, coming almost entirely in the first half. When Dave commented on the vert after looking at the course profile, I should have listened because the guy knows numbers and can climb like a goat. However, I brazenly disregarded his concern knowing that I like climbing and generally do well at it. How bad can it really be?

Well, let me just say that after 18 kilometres of climbing, I didn't like climbing very much anymore and couldn't wait to start descending which is a new and scary feeling for me. The photo below does not do justice to the steepness of the last climb up to the peak. I was scrambling up using my hands for sections and worried that if I leaned too far back, I'd go ass over tea kettle down the mountain.

Final push up to the Idaho Peak lookout.

By far, the best views of the course were along the ridgeline from the fire lookout tower. I was mostly focused on the trail and darting around day hikers, but occasionally I'd look up and be absolutely blown away by the beauty around me.

The reward for all that climbing

After reaching the high point, it was finally time to switch into downhill mode. I blew through the second aid station without stopping and Dave let me know that there were two women who were only a minute or so behind me at the first aid station. It was not exactly what I wanted to hear as I was still feeling crappy with a throbbing head and it was starting to get hot. I would have preferred a larger gap between me and the other ladies, but what are you going to do. Just keep running, I guess! 

Knowing that I don't do the downs as well as the ups, I tried to stay focused on keeping a consistent pace and effort. And not falling on my face. I saw Dave again (he was biking parts of the course) between the third and fourth aid stations and he let me know that I had increased my lead significantly by the second aid station so I felt a bit less pressure but didn't want to ease up much just in case.

The final few kilometres of the race followed the river and included a cable car crossing, which I thought was going to be gimmicky, but was actually quite fun and the volunteers there were very efficient and didn't waste any time sending me across. 

The Kootenay Sufferfest crew, who puts on this race and some other very cool events (running, biking and multi-sport), are doing a great job of promoting tourism and trail use in one of my favourite areas of BC and it makes me happy to support them and their efforts! 

Race results here:


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