The Hamels arrived in the Crowsnest Pass Friday afternoon and set up camp at the 2/3 transition. We put up the 5 peaks tent and many friends came over to visit and even a few stayed to camp with us for the weekend. The kids had a blast exploring the all terrain bike track after dinner that was across the field from camp, right near the 2/3 transition area.
As the sunset we all tucked into our sleeping bags for a good nights sleep, just kidding the train will be by every 2 hours to blow its horn and make sure you don’t get a restful sleep. Welcome to Sinister 7 weekend!
We got up at 5:45 AM Saturday morning to help our soloist & leg 1 friends get ready for the morning. we all walk down to the start line around 640 to wait for the start of the race at 7. cheering on all our soloist friends and leg one runners Sinister 7 has begun.
Leg 1 18.3km 535m gain 3:06
team captain Natalie started out the day by completing the first leg in three hours and 6 minutes
Leg 2 16.7km 772m gain 1:46
run by our 14-year-old superstar Declan coming in 40 minutes ahead of expected time!
Leg 3 31.5km 1358m elevation gain In 4:35
Leg three started out kind of abruptly as Declan came in 40 minutes ahead of pace and I was not ready yet nor had I used the facilities before the start of my mountain run
3 is like a roller coaster. Up and down, up and down, so many climbs, Rocky washed out quad trails. Running and hiking through the old burn scar and even a small new burn from last year is kind of eerie. When the wind picked up you could hear it whistle through the dead trees like the moans and screams of past sinners that have been lost on leg 3.
Aid station recap
3a- No there ISN’T a port a potty here 😣
3b – Best aid station! watermelon & freezies = life
3c cold creek and seeing friends Jesse & Derek the soloists
Highlights: Long steady climbs, some fun gentle down hill running, creeks to cool off in if it’s hot out, seeing all my friends out there. Finished in 4:35
Leg 4 23.4km 974M gain 2:56 & leg 5 27.4km 962m 3:55
Andrew crushed legs 4 & 5 in a total time of 6.5 hrs. His chip wasn’t updating at check points so we didn’t know how far out he was. We didn’t want to miss him so we went to the transition early. we drove to the 5/6 and waited for him to finish leg 5.
I had never run a night race like this before. Elevation high up onto the mountains and complete darkness can make the temperature drop quickly. We were Underdressed and playing the waiting game at transition, not knowing when Andrew was coming in. As it got closer to midnight My Muscles started to get tired and sore. Luckily…….
Leg 6 32km 1400M gain in 5:40
At 11:35pm Andrew came in and I went out. Realizing within the first 5km or so that my legs were not as fresh as many of the other relay runners around. I ended up on my own for long, lonely stretches. Sometimes I would be caught AND passed by another runner so I would have some company for a few moments. Watching the tiny glimmer of a racers headlamp getting further off in the distance. During the climb I could only tell how far I had to keep going by catching a glimpse of a tiny twinkle up, up, way up the mountain. Climbing up through some rugged terrain, at times I hiked up the middle of a washed out ‘trail’ and heard the rush of the creek just a few feet below me. Another time I tried running down a goat trail and realized that 1. My legs were not ready to run yet and 2. That it was a cliff on my right side 😳 good thing I couldn’t run yet lol.
A 3 km climb with 429 M of gain that took 53 minutes!! And all the energy, gumption and determination I could muster. My legs were heavy and my spirits were low but I trudged on until I reached the top.
Climbing up to the top of Crowsnest Pass I wish I could have seen it, the seven sisters but I Couldn’t, I couldn’t see the beauty that was quietly surrounding me in the dark. I wasn’t able to feel the gratification of the climb. It was So dark all I could see was the trail ahead of me. Illuminated by my trusty headlamp.
It was so Windy at the top. I tried to cover my headlamp, to see the Milky Way and enjoy the stars but The wind picked up and whipped all around me. I started to get cold. So I had to keep moving trying to quickly get off the top to stay warm. As I don’t know this section of the course I had asked another runner where the next aid station was and someone mentioned it was after the climb and that the terrain was ‘easy’ after that. As I started trying to run now off the top I didn’t see the aid station. I was worried there was more climbing to come. “Am I at the top?” I asked another runner who passed me, he answered “I hope it’s(the climb) over” it wasn’t very reassuring. I continued on following the faint lights in the distance. After while I was Following a rocky downhill section and had not seen headlamps anywhere. I saw a random Leg 7 sign ( must have blown over) laying on the ground. I started to second guess myself, “am I on the right trail still?” I haven’t seen a light in awhile, ‘did I miss a trail connection?’ Finally my guardian angel Leah arrives. We start chatting and she lets me know I’m still on course 👍 and we have about 4K to the elusive aid station. I’m sure she will run off like all the others but she’s just as happy to find another person as I am. We run/ walk together and finally reach the aid station. We check in and she says “did you want to do this next climb together?” Of course I agree, thinking she’ll take off once we reach the top but she DIDN’T! We stayed together and ran the rest of leg 6 as a team. My spirits lifted as I knew we were now 1/2 way through and I had someone to talk to. Leah told me it was her 40th birthday and she was currently running her longest run ever, 32km. We chatted about our runs, mountain adventures, our families and Sin 7 legends like Jay Kinsella, Alissa St. Laurent and of course Dave Proctor. Challenging our running idols strength we powered on pushing each other to run/jog and even shuffle along the course.
After the rave aid station (6C) we started seeing other runners as legs 5 & 6 overlap on this section of the course. Checking on other runners as we passed soloists near the end, laughing at each additional hill on what looks it’s supposed to be all down hill section lol “don’t get too excited but there’s another hill ahead” lol
Once we reached the final downhill that leads into the transition area the emotions were running high. I was about to complete one of the hardest runs I’ve ever done and my 2nd longest distance (leg 3&6) ever. We were cheering and euphoric as we reached the bottom of the hill. I yelled back “Run Leah, we did it” as we reached the transition in the dark the cheers grew louder and louder. I could hear Mike cheering for me and I was so happy to have completed this race as I handed off the timing chip to Jaida.
Leg 7 10.9km 321m gain 1:29
Jaida brought it home finishing the beautiful leg 7 at 6:28am. Our team #747 the Hill Humpers finished 100 miles in the Crowsnest Pass in 23:28.
I had to go to some dark places while I was out there by myself. I wondered if I could ever do leg 6 again. Could I ever solo this race knowing I’d have to tackle that monster again?
After reflecting and realizing as a solo I’d be doing that one in the daylight and could enjoy some of the views. I also realized I completed the hardest and longest 2 legs of the race. fought off the demons in my head to complete the challenge I’d accepted only a couple weeks ago. I will definitely be back and hopefully one day solo the beast That is Sinister 7. Thanks to my family for your support, Brian for an amazing race series (see you in Kimberly), the volunteers and all my amazing friends. See you next year sinners.