Three years ago I presented at the Vancouver International Film Festival, in Kelowna. I was invited to speak about my 2nd consecutive finish of the Gore-Tex Transalpine Run, an 8 day stage running race across the Alps. In my presentation, I added a very brief intro to where trail running actually started for me. Well, I found myself thinking about this race again, because I am heading back to "TAR" to attempt my 5th finish this year & I realized that I have never actually documented or shared the full story about this particular experience in my life. I truly believe it helped shape my future as a running coach, athlete & community leader. I also found it fitting as I just wrapped up a goal setting session with my athletes this week and this is a great example of not giving up. As I started writing and finding old photos, it made me laugh. I have come such a far way and I owe a lot of it to my husband and a few elephants.
We were bused from our hotel in Chiang Mai the following morning after the race briefing. Which was all presented in Thai and French. The majority of the racers were from France. There was one guy from Germany. One gal from Japan. And the two of us from Canada. So we could hardly understand a thing they were saying. The two race doctors spoke English so we managed to get a bit of information from them.
I remember starting out way to fast (such a rookie move) and as soon as I hit the first climb I was almost in tears. My back hurt. I was "so hot I thought I was going to die" and I even recall lying down on the ground rocking to try to help my backache. The doc's gave me Advil at the aid station and I carried on. Mostly walking. I finished in last place on day one.
My boyfriend came over to me right away and helped find me a bamboo mat in the shade. He forced me to drink the recovery drink that I could barely stomach. I was dry heaving and dizzy. He told me it was important to drink this for tomorrow. I couldn't even think about tomorrow, but I somehow got it all down.
The next three days I grew more confident having my bf run along side me. Despite the extreme heat, humidity, very sore toenails, shins and knees from the hard packed dirt roads, there were lots of really enjoyable moments.
The scenery was beautiful and every evening we had the most amazing meals. A team of cooks traveled along with us and made fresh curries, paid thai, soups etc... It was some of the best food I have every had to this day. In the evenings, each village would put on the most wonderful presentation to entertain us and we meet some wonderful new friends throughout the week.
The kids from each village would bring over paper and pens and asked everyone in the race for their autographs! It was very sweet. Our tents were assembled for us everyday and we just had to bring our own sleeping pads and bags. I won't go into detail about the bugs that were in my pillow, the gigantic spiders in the outdoor squat toilets, the snakes along the trail or that we couldn't shower for 5 days, even through this is what we still talk about the most. We basically stood in line, bare feet in the dirt, with a communal water bottle that someone cut in half and 3 of us would pass the bar of soap around, the water bottle which we used to rinse off and called it a day.
My Favorite day was stage 4. Not because I was vomiting from the heat/humidity and almost dropped out for the second time but because it was the day we ran past elephants. It was one of those moments in life that was truly significant for me. I realized that had I given up... I would have never had that "elephant moment". It was the day I realized that suffering is temporary and giving up lasts forever.
I went on to finish the race and placed 5th female. I ran the last day in my own and wanted my bf to be able to leave it out there and finish for him because he basically ran my race up to that point. I also wanted to prove I could do this and finish it on my own.
And to think... I almost missed out on it all. Sometimes you never know where the trail will take you or where your elephant moment is hiding...
We enjoyed the rest of vaca and did some rock climbing and lots of relaxing on beach. We have since returned to Thailand, only it was for our honeymoon and we brought our son with us. RAID THAI is no longer on the race scene, but it will forever be in my heart!