Stages 6, 7, & 8... we have some catching up to do!
Life as an athlete in a stage race doesn't always allow enough internet time for updates. Or you don't have internet. Or you're so tired and sore you don't want to compromise soaking in the ice bath or rolling your muscles to sit behind a computer screen ;)
The last 3 stages have been a whirlwind and we have some pretty amazing updates. Sorry you'll all have to wait for the det's. I can tell you quickly that stage 6 was epic. We placed 3rd and got up on podium. #unforgettablemoment. Stage 7 was a monster stage with two monster climbs and two monster descents. Oh! And 42k. We pushed through and managed to stay within 2-3min of third female team. Stage 8 brought us the best gift we could have asked for. A finish! And bratwurst buns and beer at the finish line.
We will be sure to post photos and a proper update soon. Kudos to PLAN B for another amazing event this year, my husband for his 4th year crew support and my incredible partner for all the memories!
Solid efforts out on the PACE scene tonight as the team tackled vertical training on some tricky + steep terrain!
Last big climbing session before Autumn Rush Trail race on Oct 5th, athletes will complement the workout with an orientation run on the AR race course this weekend.
Thanks to Lucy for making just enough cookies for everyone ;) and kudos to those who were still givin'er well into the dark. It's hard to see we are losing daylight... summer is coming to an end. Happy we still have 4 weeks left in the fall clinic tho! So much more exploring to do :)
It was inspiring to see everyone push themselves and work so hard. We set up the event to give our athletes am opportunity to practice race pace, fueling, nutrition, gear etc...
I will get results posted ASAP!!!
It's that time again! 4hr Enduro + homemade finishers medals. This clinic we are rocking out the moose! See ya Sunday peeps :)
I first met these two happy go lucky ladies this June when they came out from Calgary to participate in the PACE MTN Running Camp in Rossland. It wasn't hard to make an instant connection with them, as they are both so bright and positive!
Well... these two strong and determined friends are toeing up tomorrow in Big Sky Montana for a 50k ultra called The Rut. It's also the Skyrunner World Series Ultra final. Which basically means they get to share the mountain with big dogs like Killian Jornet, Anna Frost and Fellow Canadian Adam Campbell. (Just to name a few) But just so you know... we think Kat and Ally are the real stars this weekend.
On a journey of endurance... overcoming fears... embracing altitude and building an even stronger friendship through courage and persercerence.
We are so proud of you two! I am grateful for the opportunity to coach you and help prepare you for this epic adventure.
Now go be awesome! Get a good nights sleep + if things get tough out there tomorrow, just put you "tight pants" on!
❤️ Coach R ❤️
Tracey McQuire from Penticton finishes and shares the dirt on this grueling event
Q: A week ago you participated in the SwimRun World Championship race called Otillo. I understand that this race is ranked as one of the toughest endurance races in the world by CNN. Tell us a little bit about this race, where it takes place and what makes it so challenging.
A: Swimrun is a fast growing sport in Scandinavia /Europe where you alternate trail running and open water swimming. ÖTILLÖ is the world’s longest swimrun race and is renown as one of the toughest one-day races in the world. Otillo takes place in the Archipelago Islands (a 3 hour ferry ride from Stockholm, Sweden). What makes it so challenging is that the cut-offs can be quite tight; therefore, you basically run in your wetsuit and swim in your runners. And when I say "trail" running, I mean bouldering, clawing over/ along rocks, running on unmaintained areas of brush and slip and sliding over algae covered rocks with the occasional "trail" and a few km's of welcome road :) The weather has a history of being "epic" with sleet, rain, wind, sun and cold water. This year the water temps hovered around 12 degrees C and it was sunny and warm. One would think the sun was nice, however, it did make the wetsuit running a "tad" warm!
In 2002 the now finish line hotel owner challenged his staff– “Last team of two to Sandhamn pays for hotel, dinner and drinks”. Two teams of two started the next morning with the only rule being that they had to pass the three different restaurants on the islands between the start and the finish. The last team at the restaurant had to drink and pay what the team ahead of them had ordered for them. It took them more than 24 hours and they were too tired to party on arrival. They tried again the year after with the same result.
In 2006 Michael Lemmel and Mats Skott got involved and made a commercial race out of their crazy challenge. The first couple of years only 11 teams started and only two managed to finish within the time limits. Then something happened and the teams learned that the only way to race is by not stopping, with constant movement. Today, two of the initial challengers are still racing the event!
Fast Facts ÖTILLÖ – the Swimrun World Championship
• 9th edition 2014
• 75 km running and swimming from dawn till dusk small
• 65 km of trail running
• 10 km of open water swimming
• Water temperature between 10 - 15 degrees C
• 26 islands to cross
• 50 changes between running and swimming
• The swims are between 100 and 1 780 metres long
• The runs are between 70 and 19 700 metres long
• 120 teams - 80 men, 25 mixed, 15 women
• Teams of two, for safety reasons
• 22 Nationalities: Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Australia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Portugal, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, UK, USA, S Africa, Romania, Belgium, France, CanadA
Q: You raced as a team, correct? Tell us a little about your partner, how you two decided to do this epic race and how you two had to work together to finish.
A: Yes! You race as a team of 2 for safety reasons. Many of the islands you cross are uninhabited and the water has a history of being quite cold with heavy currents. In 2012 I was in the UK to visit family, friends and to scout out the UMUK race course. Sitting in my friends living room in Croydon, her husband Matt Lawrence mentioned this crazy race called the Otillo where you would swim and run between islands…the seed was planted and we had it on our bucket list! Last year in October, Matt asked if we should apply to the race on Merit. There is an option to get in via a paid lottery or a qualifying race, however, we wanted to be as close to earning our spot as possible. Of course I said YES! and then we sat on pins and needles until those selected were mentioned. On selection day we were messaging back and forth as Matt lives in the UK - I think the world could hear us as we yelled with excitement when the list was posted!
We knew we'd have a challenge living in different parts of the world and the fact that Matt was racing as his first pro race at Challenge Penticton only a week prior to Otillo! We have know each other for near 10 years, so we actually weren't nervous about the lack of training together. We did though, spend quite a few hours emailing each other and skyping! Matt's coach Simon Ward, was very helpful in giving us a lot of tips as he has finished the race once and his wife is a two time finisher. As was Lisa Neidrauer from Ontario, whom had race in 2013 - I am forever grateful for her to take the time to email me back with all of my questions!!
Matt, was my lifesaver in this race. Going into the race, I was the stronger swimmer and Matt the stronger runner. So the plan was to race to each other's weaknesses where Matt would pace the swim, and I the run. As partners we would also keep track of each others nutrition, help with wetsuit opening / closing and water exits. As I became extremely ill after the second water crossing (likely a mixture of jet lag, getting caught in a pack and "drinking" too much sea water and having my first ever experience with sea sickness), Matt was an amazing and patient race partner. We both knew that this could be the end of our race, however, neither of us would admit it and Matt knew that I would give 100% of what ever I had left in. Thanks to Matt, I bounced back in the last third of the race and we managed to make the remainder of the cut-offs and start picking off some teams…it felt SO good! At this time Matt, started to have some knee and ankle issues due to the extreme mileage his body had incurred from Challenge Penticton the week prior - but, we got it done!!
Q: How did you fuel during this event with so much time spent in the water?
A: Ha!Ha! Fuelling?? I only laugh as I was so very ill that I couldn't digest anything for the first 6 hours of the race! At one section a lady jumped out with TWIX bars (you've got to love Swedes and their chocolate!) and I couldn't even get a bite down. The plan was to eat/drink at the aide stations (filled with electrolyte drink, chocolate bars, cinnamon buns, bananas, Red Bull, water etc..sadly no Coke) adn we had a small water flask to refill and a few gels with us. So we should have been able to take in 100 calories or so every hour. On the "long" run section there was an aide station at 11km and 7km - this was the first time I could eat…I had the biggest KEX bar (yum!!), could drink electrolytes and finally sucked back my 2 gels at the start and finish of these sections. It was a golden moment for me. Next time, I would refill my flask with electrolytes at each aide station (12 in total) as I don't think taking on solids would be easy to stomach with the multiple enter and exits (horizontal to vertical moments).
Q: How did you prepare for this event? Not only does it require endurance in both running and swimming I can’t imagine how tiring it would have been to get in and out of the water up to 38 times. That would have also required a lot of strength.
A: I had a coach, Consuela Lively, with whom I asked to train me after we had raced together over a couple of years on the Ultraman circuit. I knew that she was aware of my strengths and weaknesses and that it was a bucket list race for herself as well. I chose to swim with paddles, so I did a large volume of training with hand paddles and then in March I began swimming in my runners at the pool. I am (was) a road runner, so I also started doing more runs with Neil MacDonald's "Buttercup" group in Penticton and joined the PACE Rossland mountain trail running camp where I learned to really enjoy the trails. As the weather warmed, I started doing more lake swims. Yes, as it warmed up…one would think with the cold water temps, I'd have been in the lake earlier…however, I HATE cold water and I couldn't get in until the water was at least 20 degrees C! I then tried to swim when the lake was rough and had a friend "run:swim" with me laps around Powell Beach so I wouldn't look crazy by myself! I also really appreciated the long swims I was able to log with Haley Berrisford, a phenomenal 14 year old open water swimmer - I regretted not having done more swimming with her.
With my hours of research through race blogs, there was one common theme. The women had all mentioned that they had wished that they had done more strength training. So, I spent 2 sessions a week with Brent Dobie at the Lakeside gym working on leg strength, shoulder stability and core strength. I was very happy that I did so!
Q: What kind of equipment did you use and did you have to carry anything with you or did they have drop bags and fuel on each island? Tell us a bit about the logistics.
A: We decided to go with wetsuits cut above the knees and elbows. In hindsight, I would have left the full arms I think for the swim, however, cutting the arms did make it easier to pull the top up and down. Under my wetsuit, I wore Sugoi compression shorts and an ice fill Pearl Izumi tri top. Chaffing was resisted with copious amounts of Body Glide, TriSlide and Sport Slick. We didn't use pull bouys as many teams did…I float well enough thank you! I started with a thin latex cap under the silicone one they provided - I quickly got rid of this :) I chose medium sized Speedo Power hand paddles to over come the drag of my shoes. They also came in handy to write down our distances and cut off times. Matt hadn't been using paddles in his training, so he didn't use them. I would say that 75% of the racers appeared to use paddles. I spent hours going through Flicker photos of races past and saw that a significant number of teams were wearing Inov-8 Talon series shoes. So I ordered and trained in the the X-Talon 212 and raced in the X-Talon 190. These shoes are quite minimalistic, so I had to train my feet to like them, however, they have a killer grip and drained the water extremely well. To protect my calves, I wore 2XU calf guards as they were the thinnest that I own and I loved my choice in socks - Smart Wool toe socks. Between the socks and slathering my feet in TriSlide, not a blister or hotspot was to be had!! High recommendations!! For water, we went minimalistic and I loved our choice in the soft sided 5-8oz Salomon Flasks; we just tucked these up under the thighs of our suits. In the rules we HAD to carry a GPS unit, whistle, pressure bandage, compass and waterproofed map. These fit wonderfully in our SpiBelts (from Podium Imports) under our wetsuits. We also had to wear a huge bib to identify our team and I thought that this would provide a lot of drag, however, once in the water you didn't even notice it.
There are no drop bags allowed for this race. Everything you start with, you must cross the finish line with.
We decided to go minimal before the race as with 12 aide stations, we thought we could get away with the distances with our fuelling and the plan was to refill our flasks at each aide station. The longest stretch of running was the split up 19km section, for which we both carried 2 of our own gels for this section. On review of this race, I think that this strategy would have worked out perfectly for us. I only say "would have" as I couldn't get any fuel of any sort into my system for such a long time, so I spent more time at the later aide stations that we had planned to try to catch up a bit on nutrition.
The goal for us was to keep moving no matter what! We were going to take time just on the water entrances to be sure read the current properly and could sight the target exit on the upcoming land section. I think Matt did a stellar job at reading the currents for us. Looking back at our data, I can account for an hour and a half lost due to issues with being ill (speed on the swim, run, fuelling stops, retching stops…). However, when I look at other aspects of our race, I think we nailed our plans and we were adaptable when required. Heck, 18 teams didn't finish and that was our #1 goal.
Q: This race is so unique Tracey and I could ask you a million questions. I’ll leave this one up to you to share anything you feel our readers might find interesting or inspiring about the event. Please share information or a story from your experience.
A: This race is absolutely amazing. It is in my blood now. If I could go back next year, I most certainly would; however, due to some other life plans I am hoping that Matt will be keen to race with me again in 2016. It will be tough to get in with the popularity of the sport. We were told that over 500 teams applied and only 120 were able to race - I can only imagine how tough it will be for a North Americans to get in over time as there are only 2 other current qualifiers between Sweden and Switzerland.
When we finished, Matt said unequivocally that he would NEVER do this race again. He was super glad we did it, but it was cold and tough! I said I wouldn't either, but when I skyped with my boyfriend Kevin that night, he reminded me that that's what I always say…he was right. By morning, I wanted a rematch and I couldn't imagine doing it again without Matt. We flew back to the UK the next day and Matt had to go to work that night…when he came home guess what he said, "I need to do that again!"
What would I do differently? Knowing I have problems with jet lag flying to the UK, I would have liked to have gotten there a few days earlier and I wouldn't have pace the week prior at Fat Dog for near 50km! We flew from Kelowna on Thursday and landed in the UK on Friday and flew to Sweden on Saturday to take the ferry to the start on Sunday….it was a bit much, however, it worked with what we needed to get done this year. I would also have done more what I would call "boulder" running. Even though I didn't train in the cold lake temps, I do not think that this hampered me. I have talked to other athletes on to combat the sea sickness and I'll try some of these measures next time if I get the opportunity.
There are so many memories to share. The scenery is amazing, the other racers were amazing, and it was just nice to do something so different from what we race on here in North America. As a race itself, it was very well organized, the race directors were extremely personable and Mats Skott (one of the directors) even appeared on the different islands at multiple times to talk to each participant. From the minute you boarded the ferry to Sandham in Stockholm you were taken care of in regards to accommodation and meals until you arrived back in Stockholm. This was such a stress reliever. Some participants had family members come along to check out the islands by boat during the race, so everyone was able to get a good feel of what the race was about.
I'll leave you with some of our favorite quotes from the race (I won't say who said what, as I want Matt to race with me again!!):
"I can actually run, eat and pee at the same time!"
"Does my butt look big?" (GPS unit under the wetsuit - note to self, don't call it a fanny!)
"It's hard as Hell" - Race director
"If shit happens, we'll be there for you" - Medical Team
"These Swedes are crazy!"
Stage 7: St. Vigil to Neiderdorf, Italy
Gore-Tex Press Release HERE
- 42k. 1950m (6,396ft) ascent. 2000m (6,560ft) descent.
- 4th longest distance day.
- 3rd largest elevation day.
- yep. The podium finish wore off and we woke up super tired. LOL
- in our opinions, stage 7 was the hardest day based on profiling. It had to really big climbs and two VERY steep descents.
- The route was quite technical, as well. There were chains (Via Ferrate) routes on some of the descents, which on a dry day we wouldn't have required but the steep rocks were wet and very slick. Your footing had to be very sure in a few sections on this stage.
- After the first climb, we descended into Wildsee National Park and ran beside a beautiful lake.
- Trent was waiting for us because the weather wasn't conducive for him to ride, so he thought he would hike the second climb with us.
- It was fun to have his fresh energy out there and as you will see by the photos, he had lots of time to snap while waiting for us to slowly ascend.
- We were actually in 4th position for most of the day. Then we hit the road for the last 7-8k and it just beats our bodies up like nobody's business. Plus we had to pee. So we ducked behind a barn and saw the US women's team rip past us.
- To our surprise (we felt like we were hours behind) we were only 4min behind 4th place and 5min behind 3rd place and finished in 6:15hr.
- Regardless, we were SO tired, we thought it would be funny to run across the finish line with our poles unclicked. Well as it turns out it was only hilarious to us because nobody else understood the joke. LOL Instead we crossed the finish line with looks of puzzlement and confusion from the spectators and announcers. ha!
- Carrie and I literally grabbed a meat bun, Gore-Tex fuzzy blanket, two Gore chairs and plunked our hurting asses down. For 45min we cuddled while we waited to for Trent.
- Trent was out in his glory and decided after climbing up with us he would to even higher and summit a nearby peak. It took him a little longer to get down past all the other runners.
- Our friend Sorin gave us the nicest compliment. He came over to tell us how much he likes us and appreciates our trail spirit. He went so far to say we were the most sympathetic athletes he has ever met. His eyes were a bit teary as he also shared the news that his partner had to drop out. This will always be a special memory for Carrie and I. Events like this are about so much more than running.
- we stayed at the finishing town, Sexton, which was approx. 20min away, rather than one night in Niederdorf and one night in Sexton. We wanted to have somewhat of a feeling like we could settle in f a few days.
- we were so tired, we showered, I sat in the ice bath at the hotel and then we decided to go for pizza instead of drive back to Neiderdorf for the pasta party. Everything was closed for 1.5hrs. I was borderline "hangry" so I hoped out of the van, went into the grocery store, bought a bag of potato ships, block of cheese and some prosciutto. The three of us slummed it on the sidewalk smashing some food until the pizza joint opened.
- we had a p.j. party that night. Carrie bunked in our room until a single room opened up the next night. We slept like lead.
Stage 6: Sand in Taufers to St. Vigil, Italy
Press Release on Gore-Tex Website HERE
- 38.5k and 2289m (7,500ft) ascending & 1966m (6,450ft) descending
- The first 5 women's teams (ranked overall) start in the A gate every day. We were ranked 6th throughout the race so we were starting in the B gate which was for women's teams 6-22.
- First 4km mostly flat running with a combination of road and walking patsh through Sand in Taufers.
- First climb was approx. 3km and 500m (1600 feet). 10min into the climb a wasp stung me not once, but twice in the calf. Others were stung around me, as well. I screeched out loud! It stung quite bad for the first hour and then settled into a dull ache for the rest of the run.
- The route then went into approx. 14km of rolling terrain on paved roads, forestry roads, past corn fields and we ran through a town called Brunico before we dug into the heart of the stage which was on an endless climb up the Kronplatz. The Kronplatz is a STEEP local ski hill. This climb was the steepest climb of the whole race starting at approx. 900m and climbing up to approx. 2300m over approx. 6km.
- To put into perspective, our hill sprint was 3000 feet over 6km. This was 5,000 feet over the same distance.
- Just before we reached the base of the climb we came upon the 2nd place women's team. One of the gals was crying and walking. Carrie and I stopped to see if we could do anything to help. We felt terrible as they had been on podium every day in 2nd place and they were having such a strong race.
- after walking with them for a bit, I stopped and pulled out my first aid kit where I was carrying a special coin that my friends Ian & Jamie gave me. It read "safe journey" on it. I pulled it out, put it in the pocket of the injured female runners and told her she needed it more than me and that I hoped even if she could walk that they would finish. After a quick hug, we carried on to the climb.
- As we approached the summit we had the 3rd place female team in sight and ended up passing them after the the last aid station (on the descent) with approx. 5km of brutally steep, paved road descending ahead of us.
- We figured we were going to pay for our efforts the last two days but after a brief 30sec conversation (it was either push and pass or settle in for 4th) we decided to go for it!
- Trent and Laura were at every aid station and even near the top of the Kronplatz. It was so motivating seeing them throughout the day.
- We came in only a couple minutes past the 2nd place team. We celebrated by soaking in the fountain, eating gelato and we made our TAR shirts. They had a booth where you could buy a shirt and they would screen X amount of stars on the shirt which would represent how many years you have done the race. Proudly Carrie got 2 stars and I got 4.
- we bought gelato for the race announcers that day.
- amazing food at the pasta party in St. Vigil. Chicken, lasagna and a tomato/cucumber salad. We shared the meal and exchanged stories with a couple we met from Germany the first night in Ruhpolding.
- we were beaming on the podium that night and we had the loudest cheer from the crowd! The next day another women's team came up to us and said "wow! you have many fans and friends because you got the biggest cheer all week". It made us feel good because we were making so many wonderful friends along the way.
Who knew? PACERs like to run and drink wine...
I caught up with a few PACERs who were running the Wine Country Half Marathon before I left for Europe but I am sorry I didn't have time to post their awesome interview. My apologies to Karen Kennedy and anyone else in PACE who ran that I missed in this interview. Congrat's to all!
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the race?
A: It is a beautiful course. It starts in the East Kelowna vineyards & orchards, then winds down to the Greenway and finishes along Lakeshore, Abbott & downtown to Waterfront Park, with some of the best views you can get on a non-trail run. I’m also looking forward to the fun social (wine) part after the finish and getting together with the other PACE peeps who are doing the race.
Q: How did you train for the event?
A: I have a really good fitness base from the PACE clinics, especially this summer, doing a few 21+K runs, the Enduro and Pincushion. I normally do a little road running each week, anyway, so right now I am ramping up the mileage on my road runs for the next couple of weeks to get the legs used to running on pavement.
Q: You’re a busy Mom of 3 kids. How do you find the time to train for a half marathon? Do you have secret Mom Super Powers?
A: I don't really know!! I fit runs in wherever I can. After bedtime, or early mornings. Sometimes I will run one way either out or home on a family outing. It's a team effort. My husband does triathlons so he understands and shares the training time :)
Q: Obviously you drink wine at some point in this event. Tell us a little bit about what makes the wine portion of this event so significant and is that a big draw for you?
A: I have three kids so I really like wine! I heard it's a fast course with a lot of wine at the finish. I didn't want to miss it.
Q: Who inspires you to run and/or what motivates you when you’re out running 21km?
A: I guess I inspire myself and following my heart on living a happy healthy life. I feel a sense of freedom when I run. It makes me happy!
Q: Do you have any specific goals going into this race?
A: for this race... I'm running for the wine at the end, enjoying beautiful Kelowna and seeing happy friendly running faces!
Q: What’s your favorite local wine?
A: I love the wine from the small local wineries. They are all amazing but if I had to pick one that stands out I would say the wines at Intrigue Winery in Lake Country are some of my favourite.
Q: How do you recover from a race like this? Tell us how a typical recovery week looks for you.
A: After I finish my fair share of wine at the post race festivities I might not be thinking too much of recovery but my typical recovery after a race involves a lot of rolling with my stick and my foam roller, wearing my compression socks and then taking it easy for the next couple of days. I usually try to get in the pool for a swim to loosen everything up and then do an easy 5 km run during the week after the event. And if I have the time I like to fit in an easy bike ride also. And of course I swear by a massage the week after a big race! The best part of my recovery week!
Stage 5: Sand in Taufers hill sprint
Gore-Tex Transalpine Run Press Release HERE
At some point in stage racing you usually reach a point where the mind and body have a difficult agreeing with each other. You wake up and your body asks "are we done? Can I go into rest mode today? Please tell me we are in rest mode". It waits for your body's response. On standby. Ready, but perhaps reluctantly. Then you start running again. And your mind has to make the connection and accept what is in store for the day. Today, my mind had to process a 7km and 3000 foot climb up a ski hill in Italy. And this was after 4 days of already running approx. 160km and who knows how much elevation.
The body remains to be a mysterious wonder to me. How it adapts. How muscles can compensate. And ultimately how strong our will can be when we make up our minds...
Highlights. Lowlights. Stats
- Hill sprint. 7km + 3000 feet. Up a local ski hill.
- There were 3 categories. Individual fastest. Combined team fastest and the slowest of the team was the stage time.
- They sent the slowest teams went first and then teams left in 20sec intervals. The top team going last.
- The course started off 1km flat/gradual climb on cobblestone roads and walking path. Then single track until the last 300m.
- We climbed steady not 100%. Sticking to our "finishers" plan. It took us 1hr 19min and we didn't feel exhausted when we were done. In fact we chatted and planned out Carrie's birthday which happens the Friday after we are home.
- The pasta party was at the top. We had lasagna and enjoyed the views while we waited for Trent.
- Trent climbed from the bottom up to the very top of the hill. Approx 5,000 feet on a different trail. I included some of his photos in today's blog entry too.
- Both Carrie and I had a terrible sleep. I felt hot and was tossing and turning. Luckily I could stay in bed late as our start time wasn't until 11:03. So I got up at 7:30am and we loitered and had a relaxing coffee morning.
- It was laundry day. Time to hand wash and hang dry our gear. Our room was starting to smell like expired Gouda cheese or a hockey locker. Ewe.
- After we took a gondola down, we soaked our legs in the fountain. Ahhhhh! Recovery.
- Carries sister surprised her and flew from Spain to Munich and then drove to Italy. How cool is that right? She joined us in the fountain. #teamplayer
- It feesl like I have been fighting a cold the last two days. I have had to wear a buff over my ears cause they a he while I run. Drinking lots of water and I am sure a good nights rest will cure.
- Got to Skype my Dad tonight. Felt the love. Support. Pride. Combined with emails from my mom. I am ready to carry on bravely and see what the next 3 days have in store for us. The mountains are calling...
Stage 4: Prettau, Italy to Sand in Taufers, Italy- the stats
Gore-Tex Press Release HERE
32km / 2000m ascent (6,560 feet) & 2400m descent (7,872 feet)
Our personal chauffer (Trent) loaded us up and we hit the road by 7:10am to make a 25min drive down the valley to Prettau, Italy. Prettau is literally the “end of the line” in this valley because the road ends and then you are surrounded by nothing but high, beautiful mountain passes.
Today’s route started with a steep climb within 200m from the start. The climb basically continued for the next 11km before hitting an altitude of 2,513m (8,300 feet) as we crossed the “Bretterscharte” ridge in howling winds and super duper unpleasant temperatures. It was cold and snowing. The amazing views, however made up for the freezing body parts.
From here the trail descended for 6km into feed station #2, hitting the 17km mark of the stage. The sun did come out around 11am and stayed out, on and off until the finish. Runners had another steep 5km climb out of feed 2 before starting the largest descent of the race so far totaling 12km and over 5,000 feet, dropping into the town of Sand in Taufers.
Highlights & lowlights: a summary
- There were croissants served at breakfast.
- Grateful for our own form of transportation this morning.
- It was so nice to climb right off the start instead of being on pavement.
- The snowy mountain pass was an absolute highlight for both Carrie and me. We bundled up, got our climb on and suddenly we were at the top of this incredible out-of-the world ridge. Too bad our lips were purple and we couldn’t feel our hands. Otherwise we might have stayed up top to enjoy it a bit longer. (I wish I had a photo of Carries babushka).
- Stomach issues again today for me. Found another good use for K-Tape. Oh! And I used the washroom at a hut again.
- People in the middle of the mountains playing instruments. Tuba, drum and horns. It was RAD and so motivating and appreciated.
- 50% of the course today was downhill and I just have to say how proud I was of Carrie. She was on my heels for both descents totaling 18km + almost 8,000 feet. She just flew and made it look so easy :) People coming off the first ridge were literally walking; sliding on their butts and some people looked terrified. Equally so for the first part of the 2nd descent. We just made it fun, focused on good form and let gravity carry us into the finish line.
- Can’t say enough about my husband. He is so helpful and supportive and again today he showed up in the middle of nowhere on his bike to greet us and lift our spirits. Today he was out and about and up and down all sorts of roads and passes for over 4hrs. I am glad the weather cooperated for him to get in a solid tour today.
Stage 3: Neukirchen Loop - the stats
Gore-Tex Press Release HERE
28km / 1300m ascent (4,264feet)
Last night we took a gondola up to the top of a mountain in the rain. Best Spaghetti ever! The lodge had wood beams with little booths. There would have been views had of not been so socked in. Everyone sat together and we made friends with some folks from the Netherlands bonding over the news coming in about the potential changes for the next day. With heavy snow falling on the mountain passes it was uncertain if we would be able to run the planned route into Italy. By the time we woke up they had created a completely new course to ensure safety as the result of the heavy rains and snowfall at elevation and adjusted the start time to 10am. They even created options for drop bags and they chartered buses to drive 600 runners 3 hours from Austria to Italy.
Highlights and lowlights: a summary
- We had a great sleep.
- Kinesio tape was our friend.
- We used a blow dryer to dry out our drenched gear. Unfortunately it didn't eliminate the cow shit embedded in the fabric. Let's just say my Salomon's won't be on the plane ride back to Canada.
- Kept our strategy the same. Basically Run our own race, minimize stress and stay in the game as more teams drop daily.
- Saw two goats today. Made me think of my son Carter. I miss him so much.
- course was beautiful. No mountain peaks but quality single track, bright green mossy forests and I think just being on more single track made it more fun.
- the drive today was a new adventure. We had our own private driver (a.k.a. same sexy guy we saw on the road bike yesterday) to escort us from Austria to Italy where we drove thru a beautiful valley and National Park.
- doing what you need to do sometimes. Like taking the toilet paper we shoved in our shoes to help dry them it out and use it for our road side "pit stop".
- we have made trail friends from all over the world people you end up leap frogging with and we really appreciate them. They are like a pep talks. Rays of sunshine. They make you forget how much your legs hurt even if just for 45sec.
- last but not least drinking wine and eating a whole pizza to celebate our first night in Italy. It is a vacation after all...
Stage Two - The Stats: St. Johann, Austria to Neukirchen
Gore-Tex Press Release HERE
50km / 1850m (6,000ft) ascent and 1620m (5420ft) descent making today’s stage just slightly longer but with more climbing than yesterdays stage. Oh. And just as much mud.
Conditions were dry but overcast leaving St. Johann this morning with an early 7am start. That meant we were up at 4:45am and eating breakfast at our guesthouse by 5:00am. Conditions remained cool until around 11am when the rain started. It came on fast and picked up to pretty much a torrential down pour within 10 minutes. Carrie and I stopped, peeled off our wet shirts, put on our merino wool tops, gloves and jackets. Almost instantly a river of rain was pouring down across our feet as we started the main ascent of the day. Rain continued until we finished and into the evening
The stage started off with pretty much 30km of flat running with a mix of pavement and forestry road. It weaved through a few towns or villages along the way. The stage ended with a 10km ascent and 10km descent into Neukirchen, Austria.
Highlights & lowlights: a summary
“This is your 26th stage. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. You always are.” These were the words my husband whispered into my ear as Carrie and I got in line for our gear check this morning
I woke up feeling nauseous and could barely eat breakfast. As we lined up in the B gate this morning I was burping, hoping nothing else would come up. I was also feeling particularly tired. Partially from stage one which beat me up more than I hoped and also due to the fact that I hardly slept the past few nights. Last night found me standing in the hallway of our guesthouse knocking on the door of our neighbor who had his TV cranked to a Spanish channel until 10:30pm.
Today was one of those days that is hard to articulate without coming across as whiny or dramatic. I will attempt a quick summary to keep this read light and more entertaining than I felt.
- 6km in I crossed to the dark side.
- I became quiet which I suppose if you ask Carrie she might say was silent.
- Then this sexy guy (Trent) in a pair of “tight shorts” came rolling up the hill on his bike. For a glimpse of time I forgot about my pain. This happened 2 more times only on his 2nd visit I almost crumbled on the side of road. Sigh… not sure which is harder. The way I felt or admitting the way I felt.
- Then the walking kicked off.
- And we walked some more until we hit a “crap festival”. For real. We used those exact words for over 25k of today’s stage.
- Also indicative of the crap I took inside a café at 22k, which was followed by a little cry and then the decision to carry on. We referred to this event as the three C’s.
- Then we came up to a mountain and it was as if a switch went off because I think we passed at least 50 people who were dabbling around the mud and waterfalls that were on the trail and Carrie and I said “honey badger don’t give a shit about mud and waterfalls.” So we hammered up this do-dab-dib.
- The “crap festival” hit it’s peak at the top with kilometers of ridiculous mud and rock trail that was unrunable.
- Then it rained harder.
- Then our hands froze.
- We ate candy to dull the pain.
- On the last muddy, steep, knee and hip smashing descent we played the alphabet game to things that are warm as in “Arizona”, “Blanket”, “Coffee”.
- Carrie and I lost track of time and just pushed on to the finish. I am fortunate for such a great husband and running partner. Truly, there support made all the difference today.
- We celebrated by standing in the fountain with a beer and then proceeded to roll, stretch and rub Hagina all over our bodies with the high hopes that tomorrow might be a little brighter.
Stage 1: Ruhpolding - St. Johann - the stats
Gore-Tex Press Release HERE
The starting stage of the Gore-Tex® Transalpine-Run was a whopping 49.5 kilometers (let's just call it an ultra and move on), making it the second longest stretch of this years’ event. The stage started off with rain in Ruhpolding, Germany, as runners made their way to St. Johann, Austria (near Kitzbuhel). The course crossed over the Chiemgauer Alps & the famous Winkelmossalm, covering 1670 m ascent (5, 478 feet). Wet and very muddy conditions made for a challenging and long day & many teams (unfortunately) didn't make cut offs. For todays results click HERE. For more photos click HERE.
Highlights & lowlights: a summary
- it only rained for 3hrs out of our 6:50hrs.
- we decided to break the run into five 10k races for "fun":
1st 10k. Sun Run - it was pouring out. Vancouver inspired;
2nd 10k. Color Run - not sure really. Probably because we would never actually run one;
3rd 10k. Oliver - thinking it's always hot in Oliver. Surely, the sun would come out. And it did;
4th 10k. Tough Mudder - we ran in more mud than I have ever ran my whole life;
5th10k. Terry Fox - he inspired us to bring it home.
- my husband. He has the toughest job looking after us gals and seeing his smiling face at the aid stations on top of all the work he is doing for us was the #1 highlight of my day.
- singing "old time rock & roll" for Carrie's husband Nathan who was starting his 50k journey back in Canada this morning.
- for finishing. Especially when 20k in my legs got sore. That's what happens when you nurse a dancing injury 7 weeks before a race like this and hardly run. It was a walk/run to the finish line but my partner and I finished smiling and proud.
- not one of us, but both of us squatting in stinging nettle when we went pee. Good thing our legs and knees were so sore that we hardly noticed our stinging butts.
- post run cold water leg shower.
How Plan B came to be
Success doesn't always come easy
I found it very interesting to learn that the first Transalpine Running race drew 72 teams, compared to the 325 teams that are registered in their 10th year. This challenging race had a challenging start, and Plan B had to overcome some pretty serious obstacles in the first year.
Just two days before the start, one of the first stage towns was flooded due to poor weather. Not only that, but their supplies, aid station food, everything was ruined in the flood as well. They had to do some major rerouting of the course and organize buses to shuttle runners safely to a new area where they could continue the race and buy all new supplies. Anyone who has ever run this race knows how difficult it is and the determination that is required from the runners to finish. How fitting, I feel, that in their first year, the race organizers showed the same determination required by their runners and didn't give up on what has become one of the world's greatest international running races of all time, hosting as many as 42 nations since the start of the race.
More than a run
Tourism plays a large role this event as it creates an opportunity for runners to experience all the beautiful stage towns across 3-4 countries, with the culture of each town providing a backdrop to the incredible journey of the running event. With the opportunity to experience the beauty and hospitality of alpine villages, TAR is more than just a race - it's also a vacation. Plan B makes it easy for families to come along by offering a friend and family package complete with maps, directions to cheering spots along the route, tickets to come to the daily pasta parties and wind up event. Many plan to stay longer after the race or travel before the race starts. When I asked Uta what she was most looking forward to about the 2015 race, she said they hope to have a few new stage towns to offer new experiences to runners. :)
Community beyond the race
Open arms at the finish line
One of Uta's other favorite memories of the race is watching the middle- to end-of-pack runners cross the finish line. You will often see Uta in dark sunglasses as she hands out finisher medals because it is so emotional for her; she cries with joy almost the whole time. She says she understands how much work it takes to prepare for the race, especially when most runners have families, jobs and busy schedules - not to mention the sheer toll it takes to cross over the Alps in 8 days. Although there are no guarantees on how each runner's journey will unfold, you CAN be guaranteed to find Uta with open arms at the start and the finish of the journey...
Q: Can anyone do this race or are their special qualifications required?
In order to register for the CCC you have to have earned 2 points in the past 2 years. You earn points by successfully completing one of many races throughout the world. For example, I earned 3 points at Trans Alps, Sun Mountain 80 km was 2 points, and Copper Canyon Ultra was 2 points.
You then enter a lottery and cross your fingers that your name pops up! (Or, at this moment, I am cursing that I was one of the chosen … :=;)
Q: Why do you want to do this race? What motivates you to run so far and take on such a demanding goal?
Because it’s there? I’m really not sure right now – what actually possessed me to sign up for this???
I really do enjoy a challenge. For me, the best type of challenge is that which I’m really not sure I can actually accomplish – I’m thinking this race meets that condition!
I also love adventure. It is not about how fast I race, but the experiences I have along the way. Thinking this one will meet that condition!
Should I be fortunate enough to cross the finish line I will be pretty darn ecstatic!
My heart, my soul and my support all come from Chris – without him encouraging and believing in me there is no chance that I would have EVER contemplated such a huge challenge!
Q: How did you prepare for this race? Can you give us some examples of your training and preparation?
After finding out I was ‘fortunate’ enough to get into this race, Chris and I came up with a very loose training schedule that included 3 ultras and lots of longer back-to-back runs as the race date got closer. Most importantly, I was an active participant with anything and everything that PACE offered! This included the winter, spring and summer clinic, the Rossland Mtn Camp, and the Charity run. Aside from PACE events, Rene has played a large role in my training and preparation. As a coach, Rene is a wealth of information and experience - always ready to share. She is forever positive and encouraging and my role model for strength and perseverance.
Q: When things get really hard in a race like this, what do you do to keep yourself moving and not give up?
I hear Chris’ nagging voice in the back of my head saying ‘Just keep putting one foot in front of the other – don’t stop!”
When things get really hard and my head is filled with negative thoughts, the first thing I do is actively work on changing my attitude – silly as this may sound, the PACE moto is SO TRUE for me. I think about how lucky I am to get to be out there on that trail. It doesn’t take long to realize that there really isn’t anywhere else I would rather be! We trail runners really are a fortunate bunch!
Q: If you were a spectator on the sidelines and one of the racers came up and asked you for advice, a tip, inspiration or something that would help them before they toed up to the start… what would you say to them?
Enjoy every moment of the experience – those moments will only come by once in a lifetime! As cliché as this sounds, it really isn’t about the end, but about the journey ...
I love intro nights. New season. New goals. New friends and same sweet vibe!
It's a fresh start to another journey ahead and this fall we will have 8 awesome weeks to train and mingle around the trails together.
A solid showing, the clinic drew 50 trail running enthusiasts who took their first steps tonight with a challenging & fun time trial loop followed by some short and snappy hill sprints.
It's great to see new bonds formed and old friendships enjoyed. Such a great group if people and awesome environment to feel motivated and supported.
Week one is off the ground and running...