Sunday, May 31, 2015

Race Report: Cabot Trail Relay 2015

The view from atop MacKenzie Mountain
Well, it's been a week and I'm almost recovered from my fourth Cabot Trail Relay. Once again, it was a fantastic experience that left me feeling grateful and awestruck. The incredible natural beauty of Cape Breton coupled with the energy of nearly 1200 runners challenging themselves to complete a grueling 24+ hour event is an amazing combination.

The very best thing about this year's race was having my sister-in-law along for the adventure. The second best thing was having the delightful Bev and Delia as our car mates for the weekend. Together, the three of them kept me laughing non-stop.
Sister-in-law, me, Bev and Delia
Because we'd signed up late, SIL and I were allotted back-to-back legs that started at 2:10 and 3:45 in the morning. Running in the middle of the night is challenging at the best of times, but a 20 km leg (16k for SIL) after 14 hours on the road and too little sleep, with frigid headwinds most of the way, was particularly tough. Needless to say, I failed to make the mat, finishing in 67th place (ugh!) with an unofficial time of 2:08.

Given how little I'd trained, I shouldn't have been surprised by that result but I can't say I was terribly happy either. Naively, I'd hoped that excitement, coupled with my tendency to be just a wee bit competitive, would enable me to run something closer to a 6:00/km pace. I'd also hoped to take advantage of downhills to make up for a slower uphill pace. Unfortunately, Leg 14 doesn't have as many downhills as I expected and the wind made it hard to take advantage of those there were. Here's what my Garmin recorded after I remembered to turn it on 2 km or so into the leg. :-(

Fortunately, the rest of the team performed much better - despite cold, windy conditions most of the day and some crazy-ass weather overnight.

Tori, one of our youngest members conquered Smokey Mountain and completed the leg strongly, despite a nasty fall 500 metres from the finish line.

The view from half way up Smokey Mountain
Even with high winds, rain, sleet and snow, our fastest member, Tristan, ran the toughest leg up MacKenzie Mountain at an average 4:22 pace, finishing in 8th place. Needless to say, we were thrilled for him.

Sister-in-law ran well too, despite some nasty nausea she blamed on the nachos she'd eaten for supper the night before. I was especially pleased for Delia and Bev, both of whom did great. The smiles on their faces as they crosssed their finish lines made it all worthwhile. In fact, Bev's smile was so bright she made the front page of the newspaper.

All in all, despite inhospitable weather and challenging conditions, it was another successful CTR for the Smokey Mountain Daredevils. Sincere thanks to co-captains David and Crystal for their hard work, to our teammates for supporting one another so well and to race organizers for staging another fantastic event.

I said going into the weekend that it would likely be my last CTR. However, depending on how well my training goes next winter, it may be hard to resist taking one more crack at it - especially if SIL wants to go again! Given that she's already musing about how to improve her training, it seems she's caught the CTR bug too - which isn't surprising. It's a one-of-a-kind race that every runner should do at least once in their life.

Happy running and writing, friends.

1 comment:

  1. enjoyable read, I must say I enjoyed the Cabot Trail in 2013....someday I'll run it again!