Sunday, October 20, 2013

Race Report: 2013 Banff Ekiden Relay - Leg One

I am going to break my race report  for Banff Ekiden Relay into a couple of parts or else I am sure this will start to ramble on and on and here is my report about the team roadtrip, checking in, and leg one.  And then, I will write about the support and celebration portions of the day separately.  Once my team mates have posted their reports - I'll link to those as well :)

Roadtrip in the Chickmobile

The day started really early for me.   My feet hit the floor around 4:30 and I hurried to shower, dry my hair, dress, eat, finish packing and run out the door shortly after 6.   Luckily, Hubby and I had had last minute inspiration and we had recruited Gramma for a sleepover on Friday.  This meant there was no kid wrangling - yipeee!  Luckily, my cold seemed to still be holding off but my energy was still pretty low...but I let the excitement of what this day would bring power me :)

I had hoped to be at Tina's place by 6:45 but I was a bit late...but by 7 we were on our way to Leana.  This wasn't without adventure!  We missed the turnoff to Crowchild and, in an attempt to correct that, we turned into the neighbourhood around the university (which we are now sure is just one long road that resembles an intestine and changes street names occassionally).  What seemed like it would be a quick and easy turnaround turned into a 15 minute detour...and then, all of a sudden...a giant DEER ran in front of the car (we're in the middle of the city here and it's pitch dark still).  Scared the bejeezus out of us for a second...

We tried to take a photo, but it was just too dark at that distance.   The deer seemed to be looking at us like we we crazy to be awake so early on a saturday...little does SHE know that 7am on a Saturday is NOTHING for a group of runners! HA!

Eventually, with the help of Siri, we got back on track.  Did you know that Siri might randomly say "drive 50m and then try to pull a u-turn when you can"  No word of a lie!  That neighbourhood was THAT messed up!

Luckily, a lack of traffic meant that the rest of the way to Leana's house was pretty uneventful.  Soon we were in her complex and watching the wildlife while we waited for her to come out.

First stop on the agenda was coffee, of course, and Leana is conveniently located right next door to a STARBUCKS!   

And then we were on our way!   

The three of us chattered all the way to Canmore, where we were picking up Michelle and Antje (Michelle's friend who was volunteering at the race).

We made fairly good time and they were ready and waiting for us when we arrived.  

Unfortunately, the middle seatbelt in Tina's car was being stubborn and wouldn't stay clicked so we had to quickly swap our stuff into Michelle's car and then hit the road again.  

Checking In

By the time we got to banff, I was starting to get a bit nervous.  I was leg one and it was already after 9 and I still had to check in.   I had never been to Banff Centre before and we didn't really know where we were going.  We did find a parking spot, but we couldn't really see the start area so weren't sure how far of a walk it was going to be to find where we actually needed to be.  So we decided to drive a bit more...when we found it, we decided I should just hop out and head to check-in and the rest would park the car and meet me inside to grab my warmer layers before I headed out.

I hadn't anticipated the lineup that would be check in...the line wove all across the lobby of the theatre.

Luckily, the race people were on top of it and were walking up and down the line, pulling all of the leg one people up to the front to speed things up.   A few minutes later, I had watched the demo of the chip and the handoff explanation...and I was the proud owner of bib 457-1.  

I quickly shed my warmer layers, pulled on my skirt and got myself ready to run.

Note the birdie barrette:

Then headed back to the lineup to catch up with the rest of the team and hand off my stuff while they checked in.   

There was just enough time before the start to take some team photos and for me to explain the chip and how handoff needed to work so the time would record.

and then I was off to the start line.

Leg One

While I adjusted my pack and prepared myself to start, my team mates flitted around snapping photos of me from every angle.

and then, about a minute before start time, I glanced around and saw a face I wasn't old classmate of mine from SAIT who I didn't even know was back in the province!   I hadn't seen him in around 8 or 9 years so I was so happy to see him!  Such a happy surprise.  We chatted for a moment and pledged to find each other after my leg (he wasn't running so had plenty of time to catch up later).

(I captured this one later - I was far too surprised to do it at the start)
After that reunion, it was mere seconds to the start, we all shuffled toward the giant Mizuno arch and then we were off!

The first couple of kilometres were completely downhill.  I didn't want to go out too hard on that downhill because I really had no clue what the elevation for the rest of the leg was (yeah - I totally didn't check for fear of the hills), but I had a feeling that if I gave myself over to the downhills too much, I might end up cramping the rest of the way.

So I just enjoyed the ride.  The road curved ever was so beautiful.  The air was crisp, but I was dressed about perfectly in my longsleeve and capris.  I truly love running in the mountains.  I might even "get" Melissa's after this leg (though I'm still not sure I'd ever register for it).

When we reached the bottom of the hill, we turned to cross the river on the new pedestrian bridge.  I took a short walk break so I could take it all in.

and then a sharp right on the opposite side and onto the pathway along the river.

This is where technology tragedy occurred.  We had all been having serious battery drain issues already, but my phone was at 45% when I was at the start and just a handful of photos later - it wouldn't turn on!

No worries, though, I hadn't taken many photos on my leg, but I did have my normal point and shoot back at the finish so I'd be fine for the rest of the day - my leg just wasn't going to have many shots.

The leg ran along the river and under the car bridge and then gently crossed over the street and carried on along a gravel trail toward Cave and Basin.

Once we were closer to the turn around, the course left the gravel path and took to the road at the entrance to Cave and Basin.  There is a tour bus loop in front of the interpretive centre and the race course follows this loop.  There was a water station right there, which was the only one for the whole leg.

At this point, I was starting to wonder why I was feeling so winded.   Banff isn't terribly higher in elevation than Calgary so I didn't think it was thin air!  Then I glanced at my Garmin for the first time...and saw I was maintaining a 5:25 pace!!!!  No wonder I was feeling it!   But I felt good.

I hit 5k in 30 mins and change - much faster than I anticipated my pace to be for the race!

I had been leapfrogging with a lady who was wearing a pair of transparent lulu pants that were at least 2 sizes too small for most of the race.  I really just wanted to leave her in my dust, but our paces were so closely matched that I ended up watching her thong for most of the race.  Ladies - just a tip - try on all of your lululemon pants at home in bright light and bend over.  If you can see through them - don't wear them to a race.   Or anywhere.  Better yet - take them back.  It can be your act of community service for the year.

On the way back, the course ran on the roadside.   I had gotten a few compliments on my outfit as I ran along, but on the way back, every course marshall commented and cheered.  It is always so fun to dress up and I couldn't believe that we were the only team in costume!  I mean there was a feather boa or two out there, but no actual team outfits aside from matchy company shirts.   

Where the gravel path had had a few rolling hills, the road was mostly a smooth downhill as we headed back toward town.  We crossed under the car bridge and headed back toward the pedestrian bridge.

When I was on the bridge again, I took another walk break and thought I'd try my phone again...the lock button felt odd but lo and behold it turned on!  I managed to capture a few more photos before it died again.

After the bridge, I thought we'd just come back the way we'd come - back up that looong looong hill...but the course changed continued straight up the residential street for a few blocks before it turned to climb a different hill.

And then my phone died again.

At the top of this fist stage of the hill, there were race marshalls calling in bib numbers so the people at the transition area could be prepared when their team member was coming in for a landing.  It was about a km before the finish.

We turned at these marshalls and carried on up the longer hill to the finish.

This hill seemed gentler than the one I'd run down, but it was still a steep mother - I chose to powerwalk it.

It wasn't long before I started to recognize places from past Tunnel Mountain hikes.  I saw where Cancerhound had found a pizza in the bush to snack on on the way up the mountain one year.     That kept me laughing for a bit.

The hill continued to climb, but I was still keeping an ok pace even powerwalking.  Soon, we could see Banff Centre and it two more turns to the finish.  The crowds lined the road, cheering in their runners.  Leana was there taking photos of me coming up the hill.  

I pulled off the velcro timing chip, turned in to the transition and Michelle was ready to go...and I almost handed her my Garmin, which I had pulled off instead of the timing chip!

A quick swap later and she was on her way and I was officially done my leg!

Next up - my recap of the rest of the fun...supporting a team can be so very awesome!


I'll add in the links to my Team Mates legs once they are up, but here are the placeholders:


  1. Great recap of leg 1! Thanks for sharing this MOST.FUN.EVER day with the rest of us #littlebloggybluebirds Cori and getting us all organized! Too weird about the phones all dying in unison.

    1. I must say, even when it came to technology issues - we were working as a team. It was so amazing sharing this with you guys!

  2. This is way too cool :) Great job! I haven't heard of this race! Would love to do a relay though sometime! Will check it out :)

    1. This one is really fun. Because each leg runs out of the same location, it has a great energy. I highly recommend it!

  3. Nice job on the first leg of the race! I've never run a relay before, but definitely want to

    1. I'll keep you posted if the bluebirds fly again at another local one :)

  4. Way to kick off the relay with a strong first leg Cori! I had so much fun out there with you. It was a truly magical day. Thanks for everything you did for our team. I hope we can run together again soon!

    1. It really was an amazing, magical day! I'm so glad we did it. And DEFINITELY to that run...very soon.


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