Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sun Mountain 50k

I've found it harder and harder to write blog posts recently and I'm not sure if it's that I know people don't want the same old crap in a race report or if I think people are more interested in snippets of information like Twitter provides. 

Either way, I'll try my best to be parsimonious on this second attempt at this almost three weeks late Sun Mountain race recap.

Sun Mountain 50km

At 7:00 am nearly 200 runners set off to kill 50 miles of trail while I headed back into town with Salomon West Van's shop Ambassador, James Marshall. Before our 10:00 am start we'd need a coffee and a bite too. What better place than on the boardwalks of Winthrop in the sunshine?

As it usually does, the time before the race flew by. Many more bathroom requirements than usual. Aches and pains surfacing. At race time off went another 200 runners into the semi-arid climes of the Sun Mountain - Patterson Lake area. A feeling that didn't leave me for the entire race parked itself in my legs almost immediately. I was heavy. No, not fat. Just not light and bouncy like I often am. Without a thought though I spent the first mile or two sorting my position until I fell into pace with an amazing runner from Kelowna, Loic Letailleur. We chatted most of the way about the usual stuff and came in and out of each others stride. I appreciated the way he felt equally as crappy as me at times and never seemed to play the "I'm strong right now" game. We loved to hate the climbs together. 

At the second aid station (17 miles) I left before him and thought our running date was over. Of course I questioned whether I'd taken off too quickly but carried on through some of the best trail of the day. It was windy, soft, slightly rolling and free of people and noise. The loveliness was quickly halted with a crap climb leading up to Sun Mountain Lodge and the point at which Loic appeared behind me again. Also the point where I realized my hydration plan was off and coming back from that was going to be impossible in what remained of the race. Chills ran through my body even though the sun beat down on my back and my bowels were sloshing around with each stride. It was easily 20 degrees Celsius. Atop Sun Mountain I filled my only bottle (big mistake) and ran forth to join back onto that sweet, flowy single track again. After coming back around the base of Sun Mountain we'd junction to the left and head to Patterson Mountain. I had no idea what was coming. Loic pulled away for awhile along this stretch until I rallied at the third and final aid station. One brilliant volunteer ran down the road to fetch our water bottles and called me "inspiring". I guess I believed him, because I put my head down and picked my way up through the barbed wire and over at least three false summits. I'm not exactly certain what happened next but Loic, who'd become my pacer, took a back seat. Perhaps he was even more deflated than I was when a young Seattle girl steamed over us like we were standing still. Either way, we picked our way to the actual summit to simply touch a sign that said "turn around here". Not interested in going any further, I went right back down and headed for the finish. The trail from here weaved tightly downhill and prickly sage brushed past my legs until I came upon Patterson Lake road. For the first time, I looked at my watch and realized I might actually be able run under 4 hours and 30 minutes, a personal best by 10 minutes. Prematurely I layed down the hammer and took off. This lasted for about a half mile and the finish still hadn't appeared. With the sounds of cheering off in the distance I couldn't tell how much further it was and I refrained from running by the watch. Head down and the cheering got closer. The turn over I had three minutes earlier was gone and my guts were rumbling while I pushed up that last little climb and into the congratulations corral of James Varner (RD).  The time: 4:30 and some change.

I was hot. My stomach was unhappy. I wanted beer but couldn't do it. I ate Tums. I ate a pizza. I chatted with some new friends. I chatted with some old friends. And then we went out for Mexican.

The days kit...
Everything was perfect aside from too few water bottles. The years first exposure to hot weather running required far better hydration. 

Of mention and certainly a follow up blog post are my two new favorite pieces of gear: Salomon Mantras and the S-Lab belt. More to come on this hot new stuff.


  1. We read 'em keep 'em coming Tom (maybe just try to limit the use of words I don't understand like 'parsimonious'). Great job at Sun Mtn. After talking to Jeff and seeing the pics from your trips I'm about 99% this ones gonna be on my race list next year

  2. Great stuff Tom! Congrats on the PB. I agree--my Mantra's have been awesome after a switch up from the NB MT110. They are a great shoe! Can't wait to read the review.