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The North Face Endurance Challenge 1/2 Marathon

It’s been a couple days since we crossed the finish line at The North Face Endurance Challenge – Ontario at Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Collingwood Ontario. Reflecting back on the race, yes it really was one of the toughest ½ marathons we have completed.

The Sunday started out early, we had to leave by 5:30am to get there for the 8am start and it was pouring rain. The only good thing about that was it wasn’t cold.

Blue Mountain village had been transformed into a great race expo. The North Face knows what they are doing with their Endurance Challenges. The race was organized, it was easy to find everything and the race started on time.

This was day two for the Endurance Challenge, Saturday the 50 mile, 50k and marathon races ran in the heat and humidity. Sunday was the ½ marathon, the 10k and the 5k in the rain.

The trails were slick, which might be too kind a word; it was like someone had poured oil on them.

The course sent us across the ski runs, and through mountain bike trails on an angle that slowly climbed up the slopes. The MTB tails were crazy slippery and at this point a little crowded, so we did a fair amount of walking or should I say slow slipping. Eventually we crossed over Scenic Caves Road into the Bruce Trail, where the rail turned a good deal more technical with the added fun of poison ivy.

The 12th side road gave us a taste of things to come, it seemed like the road perpendicular to the horizon, a very steep climb that made me wonder how people who lived on it ever got up it in the winter.

The most delightful part of the race was running through Scenic Cave’s cross country ski trails, wide, soft smooth rolling hills what were a joy to run. Then it was back on to the Bruce Trail, more rock, waterfalls, steep hills and descents and greasy trails – in general fun!

Oh yes then came the ski hills! Looking at the map of the course is deceiving. These hills were long and steep. You were either running up them or running down, with a little bit of treacherous MTB trail and slick woodwork thrown in for variety. By then the sun had come out and was beating down on us. Water was scarce and we weren’t the only runners cramping up. Luckily I was carrying Lava salts, Glenis and I downed those and we even handed out a few to a fellow runner who was having trouble.

We were so thankful to find the last aid station to full up on fluids. With only a kilometer and a half to go we were home free, or so we thought. The way home was a single track, downhill, that must have had a hundred slippery stone steps on them. It took us what seemed forever to get down those steps. The relief we felt when we hit the bottom was immense.

Then it was around the corner and out of the trees for the last 1/2k only to see our wonderful Newmarket Team Running Free friends Sandra and Jeff waiting for us. What a treat to have them run us in to the finish line after such an arduous ½. Would we do it again? Yup, next year!

To see some photos check out our blog!


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