By Roger Hospedales, Team Running Free
Race: Run For the Toad 50 km
Date: Saturday October 2, 2010.
This is an easy race report to write this time around. I showed up, ran two laps (of four) and a bit, then called it a day. The cold rains came late into my second lap and the trails were so slippery all I could do was struggle to walk up and down the hills. At one point it took me 24 minutes to go 2 km. And while the route is a mix of terrain, a good portion would be slippery (bad shoe choice for me), that was not going to work for the final 25 km. I ran another 5 km to make it 30 km even, then went back to my car and changed into warm clothes.
My shivering wife was thankful for that decision, and seeing her at the halfway point I really didn’t want to put her (or me for that matter) through another 4+ hours of me walking through the final 2 laps in cold hand numbing rain just to say I did a 50 km race. The good thing though was that my body was capable of doing it so this was not a fatigue DNF, simply a weather/trail conditions one. I’ll be back at the Toad for sure.
So this will be less of a description of what happened and more of me giving you some ideas in case you sign up to do this race.
Tip 1: Sign up for the race.
It is well organized, has nice swag, the course is challenging but not crazy, the post-race meal rocks, the mini tent city expo is nice, it has a pretty cool Tim Horton’s coffee station, and the vibe is positive. It is always sold out so sign up early.
Tip 2: Don’t trust Google Maps to get you there.
I did and I surely didn’t end up where I was supposed to be. I was in the vicinity though but not knowing the area I didn’t know what roads to take to get to where I was supposed to. Instead of arriving at 8:30am, had to re-trace my steps and follow the directions on the race website – yes, I should have used those in the first place but the Google Maps version made it look so simple, now I know why.
Tip 3: Get there early.
I didn’t thanks to getting lost, and arrived at the race site with less than 10 minutes to get parked, and then run over to get registered. By the time I got within 100 m of registration I heard the announcer wish everyone well as he started the race. I hustled up to the registration tent, found someone to get my race bib and timing chip, put both on and was on my way 5 minutes after everyone had left. I postponed getting my race kit swag until after the race. For some reason, I kept thinking that I didn’t have to rush since I could just get my chip time, but time starts for everyone once the horn sounds. You also want to be there early to take in the cool opening ceremonies – I am a sucker for bagpipes.
Tip 4: If you plan on competing for a top spot or time, get in front.
As late as I started, I still managed to catch up to the trailing pack of runners due to the bottlenecking that occurs at two areas at the start of the course. So in real time, it took me a little over 10 minutes to complete one kilometer (15 minutes if you factor in race time). So if time matters to you get in front.
Tip 5: Select quality trail shoes to run in.
I wore some non-trail shoes I didn’t mind getting dirty, however, the treads were not the best if the trails got slick. My gamble for decent weather conditions did not pay off and when the trails became muddy (basically the uphill and downhill sections), my race was essentially over. The only way for me to make forward progress was to walk along the sides of the trails and very slowly at that. It was amazing to watch the race leaders fly up and down the hills.
Tip 6: Try a pair of the NEW Mizuno Bio Gear Compression Socks
Thanks to the folks at Mizuno, I had the great privilege to test out the new Mizuno Bio Gear Compression/Protection Socks. The new Bio Gear Series is designed to compresses muscles to reduce vibration, increase performance, help maintain body balance, control stretch, pressure and shape, and enhance the running experience. And while my race did not go as planned, I can’t blame these socks. They were super comfy and provided more compression than Mizuno’s early compression socks offerings. They do not have a compression rating but the compression is graduated (lightest at the calf and increasing as goes down to the ankle), and I estimate it to be between 15-20 mmHg. The socks provide great arch support, and have non-stretch panels/structures at the side of the sock to stabilize the calf muscles. It is really a treat to wear. Even though I did not run the planned 50 km, I was not sore immediately after running the 30 km, and was only minimally sore the next day. If you are a fan of the Breath Thermo product line, you’ll also find some Breath Thermo Compression Socks in stores soon. They definitely offer lighter compression but will come at a relatively low cost, and will be a great addition to your winter running or cross-country ski wear. Look for both of these at Running Free stores soon. Or ask for them if you don’t see them.
The woman that won this race (Ellie Greenwood) was incredible and was a treat to watch. How she averaged 4:22/km for that course and in those conditions baffles me. Check out these splits – 53:19, 53:23, 54:05, 56:48 for at total time of 3:37:30.
All of you ultra trail runners rule! I’ll be back to tackle this course again and suggest you give it a go too if you haven’t raced here before.