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5 Peaks: Terra Cotta

  • Race: Terra Cotta; part of the 5 Peaks trail running series
  • Venue: Terra Cotta Conservation Area, Terra Cotta, Ontario
  • Date: August 7, 2010
  • It was the fourth of five trail runs slated for the 2010 5 Peaks season, and given the weather early this fine Saturday morning, we were in for a sunny, yet cool run. Perfect for me, as the heat, and especially humidity, tends to take its toll on me.
  • Up early in the morning, I was excited that my mom and little cousin would be joining me, and hoped to put on a great show for them. Allergies were unfortunately bad on this day, which cancelled out any benefit I gained from the refreshingly cool weather
  • .Up to the race site nice and early meant I had no stress as many of the other racers did due to the limited amount of parking available. I had a nice long stretch, including one led by the 5 Peaks staff, and found myself waiting at the starting line soon after
  • .As I began the race, we first zig-zagged through some trees in a grassy area near the start, before making our way over to the beautiful pond. Filled with lilly pads and a few look-out points, this was a beautiful start to the run. There were several different paths through and around this pond, and a lack of markers meant the 2nd wave (which was before my 3rd wave) took a wrong turn and ended up running with us once they realized their error and made it back to the actual route.
  • Organizers warned us of an extremely technical route for the second kilometre, but once we finally entered the forest, I noticed little difference for much of the race. I down-played their warnings, recalling the warnings given for last months race at Rattlesnake Point which explained it was the most technical of the 5 routes this year.

  • Terra Cotta overall was a more challenging run than Rattlesnake. Being one full kilometre longer than last month at 5.8km, I still wouldn’t chalk up the difference in difficult to the added length, but instead the several hills. Overall it seemed as if the entire race was uphill! One climb in particular stuck out in my mind at the end of the race which was between the 2- and 3km mark. I was running up it, but finally determined there wasn’t much benefit to killing myself while running up it, so I walked it instead. The little break at this, the mid-point of the race, was a great break for me to finish strong.
  • With some adrenaline pumping, I was careful to pace myself, and also to be aware of my footing. Evidently, I was not careful enough as I took a spill at the end of a long down-hill portion. Quickly back up to my feet I sped up the pace as I was now approximately 1.5km from the finish like and wanted to catch the person who passed me as I fell.
  • Once I could hear the speakers, I knew the finish line was within reach. I stepped it up to just below a sprint and kept it up for about 300m.My final time was 33:48 for a pace of 5:38min/km.
  • Finished in 52nd overall, which wasn’t bad I guess given that the field was over 200-strong. My goal was to finish within the top 25, which given the way the results played out, was very doable. The 25th place finisher’s pace was 4:55, which is very possible for me. Unfortunately the allergies just proved to be too much of a hurdle for me to overcome.
  • I look forward to the final race in the series: Albion Hills in mid-October!


I am in an engineering position, and currently pursuing my masters in Mechanical Engineering on a part-time basis. This takes up a lot of my time :-( Being a good Canadian as I am, I grew up on the ice, and continue to play hockey competitively to this day. Hand-in-hand with hockey goes golf, and I always enjoy a good game. While at university, I had the good fortune of being shown the benefits of working out at the gym. During an internship at Enbridge, I had the even better fortune (can't believe I'm saying this) of being introduced to fellow Running Free team mate, Mark Cairns ( Cairns) who introduced me to the joys of triathlon and adventure racing. The rest, as they say, is history.

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