Monday, June 25, 2012

Race Recap: Kananaskis 100 Mile Relay - Part Five

By the time I finished leg 8, it was after 6pm.   We had been on the go for almost 15 hours - 12 of those on the race course.  The weather had been alternating between soaking wet and slightly damp that entire time.  Our team spirit was incredible, though.  For a race that had such a rough start on my first leg - it had pretty much redeemed itself.   We had pulled together as a team and were having so much fun.

Legs 9 and 10 were running the same time as I was finishing leg 8.  Those last two legs were entirely trail and the team could not support them in there.  Leg 10 had already been reduced from 17k to 13k due to the trail conditions in this rain.  Ingrid (Alida's mom) and Crystal were our team mates out there slogging through the mud and we wanted to be there to cheer big as they came across the finish.

I think the trail shoes I lent to my friend Heather (remember her from my Vancouver recap?) for leg 10, tell the tale best of what those runners went through...muck city.

When we got to Nakiska, where these legs would wrap up - the 7 of us were STARVING and we had some time before our runners were predicted to finish.   We decided to go grab our freebie dinner.   Mmmmm never has a veggie burger tasted quite so amazing to me as that one did.

We thought we had a half hour before Crystal, our speedy gal on 10, would finish.   Suddenly, Sue got a text saying that she had finished and was sad because none of us had been out there to cheer her across.  She was already in her car and ready to drive back to Sylvan Lake.   Nothing anyone could say could even get her to come back for a team picture.   It was really sad, but she had had a rough run and just wanted to leave.

The whole episode kind of left a sour taste in our mouths that I hoped wouldn't colour the entire finish experience for us.  Instead we focused on Ingrid and waited for her to come in so we could cheer big!

And here she was! 67 years old and totally rocking the finish of her leg!   

After we were done cheering, I saw Barefoot Neil and Tina, another local blogger, heading over my way.  I went over to introduce myself in person and we chatted very briefly before Shandell and Shannon arrived and summoned me over for my "Super special treat"   I wish I'd had more time to get a photo with them.  Next time for sure!

The K-100, as I said before, is a VERY barebones race.  Runners race their asses off with no support except that which they brought with them.   There is minimal food or amenities at the handoff points.  Most of all, though, is that there are no medals.   Most of the legs come close to being half marathon in length and there's no shiny medal at the finish.

Well, our Shandell took matters into her own hands when I announced a couple of weeks ago that there was nothing.   She is a competitive swim coach and deals with making arrangements for medals and awards all the time.   She called up her guy and asked what he could do for her team of 10 ladies running a relay in the mountains.  She kept it a huge secret from us all and hauled them out at the big finish.  It's amazing. I could have cried.

I plan to have the back engraved with "K-100 Relay 2012 - Cougars in Motion"

Finished!   This isn't the entire team - we are missing Lucy and Crystal...but it is most of us.  Standing in the muck of the end with giant smiles on our faces.   Such a proud moment.

L-R: Shandell, Me, Alida, Sue, Therese, Shannon, and Ingrid

So, there you have it.  My K-100 recap in 5 posts.   The official times aren't posted yet, but I will post those when they are.

Lessons learned:
  • Going for guaranteed entry is worth it.  Sure it makes it a very expensive race, but dealing with the lottery after you get the team together would be frustrating.   BUT - for what you have to pay - there are no perks.  You get a shirt.  and an Experience.  and a dinner (or two, if you count that crappy donor dinner).  That is all.   Expect that going in.
  • You get out of it what you put into it.   There is no I in team and everyone needs to pull their weight and make sacrifices to make it work.  But in that teamwork lies the greatest reward of a race like this.   
  •  It isn't an easy race, but you can do alot to make it easier on someone else. Even if they aren't on your own team.   Sue and I often cheered for other runners than our own and if they looked like they were really struggling and didn't have support - we met them out there with water.  I wish someone had done the same for me in leg 1.
  • The team should start and finish together.  It takes so much guesswork out of it and allows for much less confusion and much more freedom.  Having our leg 1-5 runners start together meant a lot of scrambling for those first legs until the rest of the team showed up
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwiches are heaven after slogging through the rain
  • A thermos or four of coffee would have been amazing since there were no hot drinks on the course and nowhere to buy any along the way
  • Expect the unexpected - Sue saw a black bear at one point.  I never expected I would run more than half of a second leg plus a bunch of extra Kms.   We didn't think anyone would drop out - especially not the day before.  You never know how your body will react to the conditions.
  • One Imodium may bung you up for the entire day...but at least you won't need to deal with the shits on the race course (that one's for you, Shandell - since you liked it so much when I said it in the hotel room)
  • Always have a support vehicle nearby for every runner.  Even if they only need you once - at least they know you're there.
  • Bring SEVERAL changes of warm dry clothes and extra running socks and clothes.  It may seem like alot, but if you need them - at least you have them - Sue had to lend me a pair of running socks for legs 5 and 8, but they were too small and thinner than I was used to.  On leg 8, they had a seam that was giving me a hot spot on my toe.  I ended up changing into my own wet running socks from leg 1 to finish the leg.  Luckily I already know that even f they are wet, they wouldn't give me blisters.  But dry socks would have been nicer.
  • Bring a running hat.   I forgot mine and had to wear Sue's extra.  Thank goodness she had one.
  • Don't attend the Friday night dinner.  Yuck. and they hate vegetarians.
  • Despite how they say to arrive an hour in advance for the check-in at each leg - that is overkill.  It might have been worse at the later legs, but the early legs was pretty light for people.
  • The hills are hell.  Even if you think you've trained for hills - you haven't trained for THESE hills.
  • But the scenery is incredible.   Even with the low hanging clouds and pouring grey of the day - it was still a stunningly beautiful course.
  • Bring many cameras. There are no official on-course photographers. Your pics are your own resposibility - make sure you take a lot of them for each runner.
  • Know that you lose cell service by 16k of the first leg and don't get it back until halfway through leg 8.  Buy long range walkie talkies to talk between vehicles (so wish we'd thought of this)
Now for the big question...would I do it again?

Yes.  I probably would.   and knowing what I know now, it would be a better experience.  Will I do it next year?  Probably not.  But I would entertain the idea if I was ever asked again.  For a race that started off as tough as this one did for me - by the end it was one of the best race experiences of my life.


  1. Wow...that was quite an experience. It was definitely an education in a type of racing i've always been curious about.

    1. I had never been curious about it...I just signed on for the adventure. Guess I got that, didn't I? LOL

  2. Wow! Great job Cori and team on a job well done. I read all of your posts and am exhausted just from reading about it. Sorry to hear about the food, rain and other challenges. I'd say that nice custom medal should make up for it!? I'd love to do the K100 next year so thanks for your race recap!

    1. it a mark of a good writer when you can exhaust your reader? The medal was the icing on the cake (or should I be saying "meringue on the mudpie"?) I am still amazed she did that for us!

      There may be spots on this team next year so I could probably hook you up if you wanted.


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