It’s now been one week since I started this crazy adventure known as the Blackspur Ultra. Now that the legs are almost healed I thought I’d share my race adventure report with you.
Leading up to this race I was so anxious. Despite other last minute additions to the race calendar, this was my goal race for the year. So between that and the chance the race could be cancelled due to forest fires, I was a ball of nerves the night before.
Leg 1– the countdown began and once the bell was rung we were off. I started near the back because I want to let the relay, 54k and the faster runners go by so I could run my own race. As soon as the race started, we were climbing the ski hill. I knew from studying the elevation profiles this first one was the harder of the 2 legs. In its short 16.1 km it packs a whooping 886 m of elevation gain. a beast of a leg. It was a straight uphill march living up to its name, Goat (because you felt like a mountain goat sometimes) and others times it was a more gentle incline. Don’t tell Brian but I actually prefer it over Bear(The only other leg that was being used this year due to the forest fires nearby). you know it’s all downhill once you reach The aid station on leg 1. It’s past the halfway point so it seems like your almost done when you leave the top. “Only 6.5km until I see Mike again” I would think. This first leg I ran into Jim, Roger and Deanna we passed the time chatting about life, travel, family and kids. Total kms run 16.1km
Transition 1 not much needed, refill pack and quick bathroom break and I’m out on the trail again with fresh supplies and slap on the butt, “thanks babe! See you in 3 hours”
Leg 2(which is really Leg 3, Bear 19.4k 670m gain) this year due to the forest fires in the area Sinister sports had to change the course and have us run legs 1-3-1-3-1-3 for the 108k which is now actually 106.5k 🤔 this means it was also 315M more gain in this shorter course. I enjoyed running much of this leg. Until the third time I had to do it. The first time is all great you are running and fresh. You enjoy all the downhill running until you get to the aid station and have to climb out of it. That last 9+k of trail while you climb back up is rough, and it gets tougher every time. Luckily all day there was great, helpful volunteers like Gary, Anna and Jayden. I ran into Gary volunteering at the aid station the first time. He remembered me from CDR. he takes pictures of all the runners and is a great volunteer, thanks Gary and all the other volunteers for spending your time taking care of us racers. I believe this is where Jim Cherichan suggests I stay awhile and enjoy the aid station food. He’d been trying to pull away from me and we’d joked about how he would need to run faster if he didn’t want to hear me talk anymore 😂😂 besides Jim I also ran with Roger chatting about the ‘hand picked’ elite team Attitude over Altitude, some of the nicest guys I know (I still need to get my AA shirt). Running with Robin learning that although we’d just met we knew many people in common, several who were our driving force or 1st glance into ultra running.
Total kms run 35.5
Transition 2 As I chow down on chicken noodle soup Mike refills my pack and Nikki helps Lube the feet, change the socks and I’m gone again.
Leg 3(2nd loop of goat) going back up this beast I knew it would be harder than the first time. I had planned for it to take longer each time as I got fatigued. The beauty of goat is once you’ve made it up all you have to do is run down. Well run is relatively loose term by then. The climbs are hard it starts with gentle double wide road climbing then a fun, fast single track section that makes a sharp left turn and then you know the fun is over. We climb single file up, up, up and finally you pop out into a deadfall clearing. Ah I’m done, no don’t get ahead of yourself there is still more climbing. Now we climb up the side of the mountain. Over roots, fallen trees, sharp loose rocks, I’m starting to see why they call it goat. This is where I run into Carl and Monique. I tell Mo that the climb is almost over. A few minutes later she says “I thought you said it was almost done?” A couple more minutes of climbing and it is finally over. Getting to the top you finally want to run but be careful not to lose your footing on all the sharp rocks at the top and descending down into the trails. We start running anyway knowing we’ve got one more climbing section and I do mean climbing, like over and under fallen trees on the course. Finally we reached the road popping out of the trees and Monique says “finally something I can run “see ya” and she takes. I take off too trying to catch her but only catching up to her after the aid station as we hit another technical section in the trees. We run together for awhile catching up to Hiro at the rock slide section near the end of the leg. We all clump up at the top of the ski hill and run in together. Monique is now done, finished her 54km race. Leaving the rest of us to pit and head back out. Total Km run 51.6k
Transition 3 this was my chance to call it a day and be a 50k finisher but there was no stopping me. I came to run 💯
while Mike repacked my pack (note for next year buy a second pack) and made my grilled cheese ❤️ Tania and Jeremy (who had already run 50k) held up towels so I could change and helped me with my feet, which had developed blisters on my big toes and under my right foot. I did my best to down the protein shake Mike had ready for me. Liquid calories go down easier I find. It was the pick me up I needed.
Leg 4– (2nd loop of Bear) as I left the transition it was at this point that there was no turning back. Brian had given us the option to drop down to the 50 after 3 legs but once you leave transition on leg 4 it’s all or nothing! I hiked up the ski hill munching on my bacon grilled cheese sandwich that mike cooked in the transition for me (he’s the best crew chief ❤️) finished up my sandwich just as I reached the trail head.
Luckily this is where I met Natalie. We met on the mountainside as I spotted a deer heading into the single track at the beginning of the leg. I stopped to point him out to her and we paced together for awhile. We pushed each other to climb faster and run further, especially since I realized I had left transition without a headlamp.
We ran the whole section within ear shot of each other. As it was getting dark we headed in to transition and she asked me if I wanted to stick with her through the night so we didn’t have to run by ourselves in the dark. I was more than happy to continue on with her. We agreed to use the bathroom, eat and then head out into the pitch black together. Total kms run 71
Transition 4 a quick bathroom stop again eating real food. having more soup, a couple pickles and a drink of coke. I’m still learning how to eat enough calories while running longer distances so the strategy was to try and get more calories in at transitions. Natalie is ready so here we go. Don’t forget the Aleve and a headlamp this time.
Leg 5– (3rd and final loop of Goat)
This is where the test of mental strength comes in. We had already climbed this monster twice, we’d been running for about 13hrs and it was dark, like really dark. There wasn’t much running happening now. I lead the climbs, Natalie pushed the pace on the flats and we both tried not to fall on our faces on the downs. We reached the aid station but only barely, after missing some fairly obvious flagging. Thanks to the CP1 volunteers who yelled at us “take the high road” they weren’t being philosophical about our race strategy, we actually missed the turn. After back tracking a few metres we found the proper trail and were headed into the waiting arms of the aid station volunteers. Now we are in the home stretch! This aid station marked 50 miles completed and only 6km left to the final transition. It’s at this point I realize I’ve developed a nasty couch from breathing in all the smoke in the air. As it got darker the smoke got worse but it was hard to tell how bad until we arrived at the bottom could see how low and thick the smoke hung in the transition area. As we hiked along knowing we were getting close to the rock slides we talked about the footing being a challenge and once we had finished that section it was smooth sailing to transition. We chatted so much that we didn’t even realize we’d completed the rock slide section and were in fact further along than we’d thought. Hurray we were almost there!! As soon as we hit the ski hill to come down we could hear the cheers of those waiting in the transition. Total km run 87.1
Transition 5- the final one! It’s getting pretty smoky now and I’m coughing a bit more now but we are so close there is no way either of us is going to stop. Natalie is 19.4k away from completing the Sinister triple and I’m right there along side her. I eat more soup trying my best to down more calories. To have the energy to finish this thing.
Leg 6– the final push ( 3rd loop of bear)
As Natalie and I left transition for the final time. For Carl, who’s race was finished at 50k (due to breathing issues from the smoke) a loud F*ck Yeah was yelled into the night like a banshee cry and we were off to finish this beast of a race.
Leaving Mike and my friends for the final time now in the wee hours of Sunday morning. At this point our legs were fried and no running is happening. We continue on the finish the last 19.4km using our mental strength and poles, poles will save your life/face many times over, once your balance and coordination can’t anymore.
We hike along for what seems like forever trying to remember landmarks in the dark and use our carb deprived brains to math how far until the aid station. Finally emerging in the dark we find glow stick arrows pointing out way to the aid station to see the lovely Anna and Jayden who had run their own race in Grande Cache early on Saturday then drove to Kimberley to volunteer and cheer on the rest of the family (James & Joedy 1st & 2nd in the 50k and Dad Roger who was still out on course finishing the 100k) at that point they were the only people we had seen that entire leg. With less than 10k left in the race we said goodbye and started to climb back up out of the valley. For the last 10k we chatted about previous races, friends, family and of course bitching about the never ending climbs. We knew we were getting close once we turned onto the last piece of single track. After a few minutes we could hear a chainsaw?? So excited to hear civilization, but we then thought ‘what jerk is using a chainsaw at 5am’ lol either way we knew we were almost done. Seeing that ‘turn ahead’ sign we knew we were at the road! Only 2km left!! We power hiked as fast as we could seeing a small headlamp just in front of us. We had caught up to another racer right at the finish. As we descended down the ski hill for the final time. The cheers of our friends and families could be heard in the smoky night air. The feeling of euphoria came over me as I actually started RUNNING to the finish line. Mike and my friends awaited me at the finish line. We DID it!! I DID IT!!! 8 months of training, over 2000km run in training, hours of planning, 21hr 41minutes of running on course.
Total kms run 106.5!!
Thank you to the volunteers, to Brian for another great race and handling the fire situation so well, to my family for their support, my mom watching the kids, Nathan for his awesome note ❤️ and Mike for ALL THE THINGS! Thank you for always being there for me, listening to my endless running stories and making me grilled cheeses on the camp stove. You are the best crew chief and teammate a girl could ask for.
As for you Blackspur, I’ve done many races over the last few years. I can only think of three times that I have been so sore after a race that I have trouble walking or sitting, this was the worst of them. Jessica Laird was right #blackspurhurtthemost