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Sinister 7 - RunUltra Marathon

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Blaimore, Alberta
18C / 64F
Total Time = 25h 26m 19s
Overall Rank = 87/90
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

Rob, Fraser and I headed down to Blairmore on Friday afternoon. Set up our tent in the field by the start, which was nice. They had the check in and the prerace pasta dinner and meeting. All was good. The temperature leading up to the race was in the high 20s and low 30s even so we were quite concerned about the heat. Forecast for Saturday was supposed to by 28 or so but had been lowered to 22 so that was good. Had a restless night sleep but excited to get up at 5:30. Rob made some eggs and sausage on the Coleman. A bit of coffee. As I was not running until 11:00 I ate this as well, I have no idea how Rob does it.
Event warmup:

So the race is 146 km in 7 stages. We broke it down to 5 legs for us, Rob would do the first 2 legs at 32.5k, I would do leg 3 which is 33k. Rob would do leg 4 at 32 k, I would do legs 5 and 6 at 37k(!), Fraser would bring us home on leg 7 at 12k.

We woke to cloudy skies. Stormy skies in the distance where legs 5,6 were being run. Looks like the concerns about hot weather did not materialize.
  • 25h 26m 19s
  • 146 kms
  • 07s  min/km

Well the race got off to a grand start at 7:00 a.m. Seconds after the race start the clouds opened up with a quick and fast down pour. I went back to bed and managed a solid 2 hours sleep. It rained a bit off and on, not much, by 9:00 it seemed to have stopped. Hung around, got my hydration pack loaded(we needed to carry a jacket, whistle, safety blanket) I loaded it with water, 3 power bars, 2 gels. Opted against the Gators, I didn't see a lot of people wearing them. Wandered over to transition with Fraser and 2 camp chairs to wait for Rob.

Now a little about Rob. I am in the same office as Rob. Sometimes we run together. He hardly runs at all. He is faster than me, for the most part. Last year we did the Moose Mountain Marathon together (42 km long, 1000 meter eleveation gain), he finished in 5:30 I bonked hard and barely made it 29k. Rob wants to run that 5 marathon race in Sahara in a couple years. I want to do a 100k ultra. I found this race and said, hey, want to do half of it, he said sure. Ha, not sure if he knew what he was agreeing to. We both did the Marathon in May in Calgary. I signed us both up for that back in October, same with the Sinister 7. So just about every day since October I come to work, go for a run at lunch, after weekends I talk about my long run, sometimes in trails, sometimes in the middle of the night. I am like, "hey Rob, whatcha up to, you know, training wise." The answers I received were pathetic. His training for the marathon was limited to a weekly 60 min hill run and a long run on the weekend that I think he maxed out at about 25k. Regardless, he still managed a 4:25 marathon to my 4:18. The guy has been running for years and somehow can just bring it when race day comes, regardless of his training. I am not even sure he looked at the race discription, even though I printed it out and gave it to him. He wasn't even worried until Friday when he says to me, "I couldn't sleep last night, I am really worried about this race." I am like, duhhhhhhhhhhh.

So that is Rob. He figured about 4:30 hours. We are talking 32.5 k with about 1200 meters of elevation. Through the mountains, on not altogether stable trail. I knew he would do it. Regardless, come 4:00 hours I am worried, people start rolling in, old ladies, fat chicks, I mean of course they are just doing leg 2 and he is doing leg 1 and 2 but still. He made it in 4:40. Good time. He handed me the timing key and I was off.

Leg 3 was 1100 meters elevation, 33 k long. Damn near perfect execution on my part. Took it slow. It starts with 1k climb up a dirt road, I shuffled along, walked a bit. Tried to get my MP3 player to work, it didn't, probably for the best. Got to the trail, the route goes out 4 k, then you do a loop for about 24 k, then back down the same 4 k. First 4 k was harder then I thought, seemed to be a lot of up and down. I mean they had an elevation profile but those things never do justice to the experience. So up and down, up and down, and the downs were steep. Passed a couple of people taking it easy on the down. I ran the descents, controlled though you know. The trail was really quite dry, not alot of dirt on top of the hard packed dirt which did make the up and downs a bit slippery.

Once I got to the loop things leveled out for a bit. The trail was nice and easy, super easy to run on. No rocks or roots or anything for the most part. Went through some nice prairie type clearings then into the woods for the up part. The up part was not that challenging for the most part. It was gradual, I shuffled lots of it, usually only walking here and there to give me a chance to take a chug off my hydration pack or take a bite of a power bar. (oh I also had my fuel belt full of jet fuel (protein powder and peach crystals so I was going through that as well)

Hit the second aid station at about 22k or so. That was the top of the mountain, well almost, we had to go another 50-100 meters up after the aid station, but that was on a dirt road, far more pleasurable to run on than the trails. Hit the top on the dirt road then it was a long windy run down on the road. About 4.5 k on the dirt road. I ran the whole way. The sun was coming out a bit so I was getting a bit hot but I didn't want to stop to refuel because I was concerned I would not start running again. Finally got to the bottom and it was about 3 k to the end of the loop. Ran most of this at about a 7 min pace, passed a couple more people here. Was feeling super good. Finally hit the end of the loop and I was like, "yeah". Felt good.

Then I saw the hill that I had ran down. I think there were 3-4 hills that we had to go up. And they were steep, steeper than anything else. About half way up the second hill I started to bonk. I knew it wasn't calories, it was water. I had hardly drank at all, really just a short sip here and there. I could hardly walk up the hills anymore. I was hunched over on my knees. It was horrible. It was like my disaster on moose mountain all over again. Thankfully I had 1.5 liters of water on my back which I started to drink as fast as possible. I continued to slog away and drink. Took about 15 minutes to stop feeling light headed. By that time was through with the hills, then just a gradual downhill for 2-3 k which I jogged through. Had a good time of 4:30. Passed the timing chip off to Rob, asked him how long, he said 5 - 5:30 hours.

So the weather on my leg was mostly overcast, a small amount of scattered showers, but hardly anything. 10 minutes after Rob leaves the rain hits hard. I drank a ton at the aid station, ate a bunch of bagels, some cookies, peanut butter. Drank more. I must have drank at least 3 litres of water or Heed.

Got Fraser and headed to subway. Had a ham/chicken with no sauces. Tasted real good but it just kinda sat in my belly with the 3 litres of fluid I drank. Felt super bloated. Got back to the tent around 6:00 p.m. and slept for 2 hours or so. Felt great when I got up, stomach felt good, well rested. Took my time getting ready, opted for tights and a long sleeved shirt for the night time run as it continued to rain off and on. Had a serious case of the bloody nipples (and I mean serious, looked like I was shot in the chest or something) after leg 3 so lubed everything up (except my armpits oops). I have never been a big bodyglide guy, and actually besides my nips everything was in pretty good shape but I didnt want anything shafing so....well...enough of that.

Wasn't that stiff at all, never took any advil.

So, had to drive to the Transition point, leg 2 and leg 3 and the start were at the same place. Got there around 9:30 and there is Rob, sitting there. Said he was done 30 min ago. He did it in 5 hours. 32k with 1000 meters elevation. Crazy. Anyway, no time to think, was off.

Leg 5 is advertised as the wettest trail in Canada. Now, unless you are running in a flowing river, it is. The leg is 22 k long and has a difficulty rating of 6 out of 5. It was brutal. However, the first 5 k were kinda easy, gradual slope, easy to run. Pretty muddy but no problem keeping the feet dry and the traction was okay, although it was a bit soupy in parts.

At about 5 k it was getting dark, and I lost the trail. I put my head lamp on. Earlier I had caught up with Dan,a soloist. Dan says, "lost the trail." I am fumbling with my headlamp, "yeah" I say. He looks around, then across the 20 foot wide stream he says, oh, there it is. Great.

And that was the last time my feet were dry.

The trail then began to go up and down and up and down then up up up up up. I hiked with Dan for a bit, but he was starting to hurt, although was in good spirits. He just did not have a lot of gas in the tank having already been running for 16 hours or so and 100 or so km. I pulled away from him a couple times but I usually would stop in front of a stream (or rather large puddle) as I tried to figure out the way to get around it with the fewest steps. Most you could get around without getting wet but you had to walk through around 20 although most of the time it was only 2 or 3 steps. So Dan would catch up while I surveyed the situation but he could not keep up with my blistering pace (which by this time had slowed to about 13 min/km.

At one point, around 12:30 or so, three girls caught up to us, they walked with us for a bit, very supportive of Dan, they were doing just the one leg, full of energy, asking Dan if he needed anything, drinking enough. Eventually they headed off, but they were having a rather thrilling conversation about their various sexual experiences so that gave me motivation to keep up, and even run when they started to run. Alas, eventually nature called (for the 3rd time on this leg, guess the drinking worked) and I never could catch up. Eventually I reached the lone aid station on this leg, if you could call it that. Nothing but water at this aid station. lol. Brutal aid station. After 3 hours of hiking through tortuous mud and naviagating puddles in the pitch black you couldnt even get a power bar. Thankfully I was fully stocked.

We started this leg at 1500 meters and it was advertized as an overall elevation gain of 1000 meters. The aid station was at about 1900 meters. There was some up and down before that so I figured that the climbing must be about done. Ha. It got steeper, and just as muddy. Eventually we reached 2250 meters. Killer climb. Made it without stopping though. Thank god for the hiking poles. Saw another soloist on this climb, a lady, she was hurting. I tried to give her some hope but man she was moving slow. She just had to make it to the end of leg 5 and then it would be all down hill, I hope she made it.

Throughout this leg, besides the 3 women, 3 guys passed me, they were just hauling, I mean moving. Clearly after some type of crazy night running record. I mean it is pitch black (no moon, no stars, oh and also a faint mist that half the time resulted in my headlight beam being refracted all over the place limiting my visibility to about six feet, being the distance from my eyes to the ground) and here are these guys bounching around, dodging puddles, all without poles, wow.

So, get to the top of the mountain. They said enjoy the view. I turned off my head lamp, I could not see a thing, it was DARK. Started down. Down was worse than up. Could not run it. Too steep, too muddy, too dark. It sucked. I literally could go faster up, and it hurt less to go up. Horrible. I kept looking at my elevation on my Garmin, waiting for it to near 1700 meters (the end elevation). Eventually I got there, but only after a killer climb at the end.

The aid station at the end of leg 5 sucked. They had no heed. They had a nice trailer with all the goodies in it, but no one to help you. I mean every other aid station they were like, "can I fill your bottles, what do you need," here the lady was like, "its in the trailer help your self" lol, oh my. Filled my bottles with fizzy coke, grabbed some apricots which tasted like heaven, and I was off.

It was about 2:20 a.m. I had told Rob to be back at Transition at 3:30. There was no way. Leg 6 was only 13 k long. lol. It was a gradual descent. Gorgeous. The trail was clear for the most part, although muddy. But I could not run. My armpit was chafed to death from all the poling I had to do to climb up the mountain. Walking was fine, running stung like someone was sandpapering an open wound. I had to walk the whole thing. Took me 2:40; to go 13k. Got there at 5:00 a.m. No one passed me though, lol, until the final 50 meters when 2 people blew by me like they were finishing Boston. I just laughed handed my key to Rob who woke Fraser who was sleeping in the car. They had been there since 2:00 a.m., Rob was convinced I would finish early. Oh man I felt bad.

The two legs together took 7.5 hours.

Fraser finished the last leg, 12 k, in 2.5 hours.
What would you do differently?:

The only thing is lube my pits. Figure that cost me about 30-45 min on the last leg.
Post race
Warm down:

Slept until 8:00ish when Fraser came in. Sat by the finish line waiting for the final soloists to arrive. Those guys are awesome. Made some breakfast, took down the tents. Went to the lunch, which was awesome, great grub. Skipped on the awards, we wanted to be there but we also wanted to get home to our families.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Just the lube. I mean I couldn't have trained anymore than I had.

Event comments:

The only thing I would say is the cost, but I always complain about the cost. Support was great at most of the aid stations, only one was that Leg 5 one, man, they really could have used some hot broth or something out there. Dinner and lunch were great. The race sold out, will sell out again for sure.

Last updated: 2009-12-17 12:00 AM
25:26:19 | 146 kms | 07s  min/km
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/90
Performance: Good
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2010-07-13 12:02 PM

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Subject: Sinister 7

2010-07-20 9:41 PM
in reply to: #2977905

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Waller County, TX
Subject: RE: Sinister 7
Good job dealing with all the challenges of a looong race. It sounded like a couple of the epics I've done recently. Nowadays, I just *yawn* when I read about 1hr-15m sprints and stuff.

It always seems to be the "little" things that become big things during a an endurance event of this nature. You learn something new every time you go out.

Following those 3 girls sounds like a good way to motivate a faster pace.
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