Date: Sunday, June 5/11
Location: Claireville Conservation Area, Toronto, Ontario
This is not a race that I would normally sign up for. I am not a great trail runner & normally fall on the trails, so I try to avoid them whenever possible. However, my 2 friends, Cindy & Laura who like to run trail races talked me into doing this race with them as a team. So we used Laura’s adventure racing team name, The Tools. We each had to have our “tool” name, so I was Karen Hacksaw Gamble, Cindy Hard Hat Ramsay, & Laura Grinder Rowe. I asked if I was Hacksaw, so that when I fell, I could just hacksaw people down! They told me that we would run as a team, & they promised that they would not leave me behind. With this, I agreed to do the race.
The race was well organized, & the woman announcing did an awesome job the whole day. She kept everyone informed as to what was going on & when the races were starting. There was an Individual 5k, an Individual 10k, the Team 10k, & then a kids race of 1.5k. We watched the 5k & then 10k races start. Then the Team 10k was called up. I looked around at the other teams & was very intimidated at all the younger people racing. Cindy & Laura told me not to worry, & that I would be just fine. When the race started, everyone took off, & again I was told not to worry, that we would be passing most of those that had darted ahead. We ran through lots of long wet grass, marsh crossings, up & down many hills. I almost lost one of my shoes in the marsh, when it got stuck in the mud, & I stepped out of my shoe. Two steep muddy hills had ropes to help us climb up. One of those hills was completely mud, & I was slip sliding my way to the top, when someone at the bottom of the hill tugged on the rope & down to my knees I went. I was paralyzed with fear, & afraid to move, hanging onto that rope for dear life. I struggled to get back to my feet & feared that I would slip back down to the bottom of the hill. Cindy & Laura were waiting at the top for me, & Laura had to slide back down to a tree to help me up, then pushed me up the hill for Cindy to grab me, then up she scrambled. There were 4 or 5 river crossings, each one getting deeper. Then last one was up to my chest, & I had difficulty getting out of the river on the other side. Laura exited first, then pulled me out, while Cindy pushed me. They did not leave my side the entire race. Other teams we saw had split up, but we knew that it was the last team mate to cross the line whose time counted, so we stayed together. We passed many racers along the way, & they chatted to me the whole time, trying to keep my spirits up, because I knew that I was holding them back. They kept telling me that that is what teams do. They stay together & help each other out. When we hit the 10k mark, I asked where the finish line was. Laughing they told me that the race was “about 10k”. So, we continued on, finally hearing them announcing the finish line. Here we hit the “world renowned mud pit”! We held hands as we entered the pit, then halfway through we saw that we actually had to crawl under flags to get to the finish line. So we crawled through the mud, then held hands high as we crossed the finish line together, covered in mud.
They took pictures of us before the race, then again after to show how muddy we got. We had been told to wear old shoes that we could through out, & old clothing. So, the only Running Free clothing I wore was my hat.
We hung around for the results, only to be told that there had been too much mud on the race bibs, so they would have to go through the results by hand, to determine the winners. The results were posted the next day, & Cindy, Laura & I had won first place for Teams of Ladies. They had said that they would mail us our prize, but it was the same time as the postal strike, so we never did see a prize.
All in all it was a good race experience. I did enjoy racing as a team, & my team mates did help me out a lot. I am thankful to have such great friends!