On Saturday, September 22, I ran the South Fraser 8K at Bear Creek Park in Surrey, the 2nd race of the Lower Mainland Cross Country Series. At 10:30 AM they assembled us on the track, and told the women doing their 5K that they would do 2 big (2K) loops and 1 small (1K) loop, and us that we'd be doing 3 big loops and 2 small ones. Next was a surprise firing of the starting gun, and we were off!
After about 100 meters we exited the track through a fence and headed down a wide concrete path, and then into the woods. We went up a very short rise and over a small wooden bridge before turning right and onto a concrete path again. I saw Arnold Sikhakhane ahead of me, running at a good clip. I managed to catch up to him and ran behind him for a little while. We came out into the open before hitting a slight downhill in the path. I decided to go down it as fast as I could, and in doing so I passed Arnold and soon I couldn't hear him behind me anymore.
We hit a bit of woods again, and then came out onto a field and turned right. I heard someone coming up quick behind me, and first one woman passed me, and then a second one. I stayed behind them as we left the grass and ran down a concrete path along some chainlink fences. There were a lot of people here as we were nearing the area where we'd started, and there were large groups of runners who would be running races later in the day, some of them quite young with their coaches, plus parents and other spectators. It's a big complex and football practices were going on, plus people were out running and walking the trails, so it was a beehive of activity. As we came to the track again the lead woman went to turn in where it was, and we blindly started following her, but a friend of hers watching the race yelled "No Michelle, you're going the wrong way!". We did an abrupt turnaround and soon they were in front of me again.
We came to a fork in the road with huge white arrows on the ground pointing down two different paths, a giant "L" on the lefthand fork meaning that was to the long loop we'd just been on, and a giant "S" indicated the small loop, so we headed down the left one. We stayed in our positions with the two women running in front of me for the entire second loop, and when we came to the fork the second time they headed off to the right and I turned left by myself for my last turn down the long loop.
After I ran over the wooden bridge and turned onto the path I saw a fellow from the Lions Gate running club who had passed me near the beginning of the race. I was surprised because he always beats me so I assumed that would be the last I'd see of him. I kept gaining on him, and when we hit the open grass again I made my move on him and raced past. He looked surprised and I could hear him speed up now trying to keep pace with me, but I kept running hard and after awhile he appeared to have dropped off as I didn't hear him anymore.
Before long I was at the fork again, this time going to the right and onto the short loop, heading down a wide concrete path, around into the woods again for just a short jaunt, and then over the grass and past the track. In the woods I passed Arnold and he yelled "Hey Gord, high five!", but I was already in front of him pulling away, so we had to make it a figurative high five as I babbled something back at him. As we came out onto the grass a fellow from the Kajaks club passed me and I stayed on his tail, but heard someone else coming up behind me. I looked and it was Murray from my club. I said "Hey Murray!", but he was breathing too hard to answer me, and now I was running behind both of them.
We hit the fork again and turned right for our last loop, one kilometer to go! We stayed in a row 1-2-3, and then when we came near the track the lead fellow went to turn down to the track where the woman had gone before, and just as Murray went to pass him a volunteer yelled out that we were going the wrong way. We were all swearing now, but especially Murray, as he was now at the back of us. We ran a couple of hundred meters and then turned onto the track, but again there was no indication which way we were supposed to go, and the guy in front was yelling "Which way?", and finally a woman volunteer pointed us in the right direction.
Murray was swearing as he came in, finishing behind myself and the other guy who crossed ahead of both of us. I told Murray that the Kajaks fellow wasn't in our age group, and the club was going to get the same points for the series no matter what order we came in. They weren't giving out awards for our race anyway, only for those under 20, so it wasn't costing anybody a podium appearance. Still, they didn't have marshals in the most important places that they should have them, at the finish, and many other people had made wrong turns, not just us. It was over now though, hopefully with minimal damage, and time to put it behind us and look forward to the next race.
Results are up but they have Paul Wood listed as a 64 year old woman and Murray isn't on there at all. I've emailed them about this and I'll wait to see how this all pans out. I did finish 2nd in my age group with a time of 35:11.47. They don't have anything listed for overalls and I'm going to wait for proper results before trying to figure that out.
With no awards we just cheered the rest of the runners in, with John Makepeace doing his trademark handstand after crossing the finish line. They had no food or drink for us either, but Rob Daniel told me today that he got a muffin and coffee from the Tim Horton's wagon, so they were there at least, just not too many people from our race found them as it wasn't announced.
We talked for awhile and cheered for the youngsters in a couple of their races, which were awesome to watch, and then it was time to head home.
My next race was the Trail River Run 10K in Port Coquitlam this morning at 8:45 AM, and I'll do the report on it as soon as I'm able.