On Saturday, November 24, I ran the 8K Masters race at the Canadian Cross Country Championships at Jericho Beach Park. I drove down there and got my race bib and age group number for my back and put them on, and before I knew it the race was almost starting. I headed to the start line at the end of the field, we had a brief summary of the race course by the starting official (4 X 2 kilometers laps), and off we went at 10 AM.
We headed across the field, along some gravel paths and more grass, and then headed into the woods. Last year we weren't the first race of the day, and it was pouring rain all day, but this year there was no rain, so the course wasn't nearly as mucky this time around. We still had to run along the mud trail in the woods and get plenty dirty, but the footing was much better. By this time I was in a pack with a fellow with a 50 on his back, meaning he was in my age group, running in front of me. Leading the pack, with a 65 on his back, was Brian Connan, who I remembered from the provincial championships, followed by Vas, then a woman sporting a 40, followed by us two 50-54 year olds. I soon learned the names of the woman and the guy in my age group, Michelle and Bill, because it seemed wherever there were spectators people called out their names and cheered them on.
We ran through the mud and hit a patch of bark mulch for only about 10 meters, which was good because we sunk into it and it slowed us down quite a bit. Next was more mud before turning right and heading down a short but steep dip beneath some tree cover, and then we were out of the woods and heading toward a corresponding uphill on the grass. After we crested it we were going toward the starting area again, through some grass with nice puddles, then some wet muck, and back onto the grass to head about 150 meters down the field, before heading around a u-turn to go 150 meters the other way. After one more very wide u-turn we ran 300 meters further along the grass, passing the finish chute on our left, and began the second lap.
It wasn't until we were almost at the first u-turn again when I went by Vas, following Brian, Michelle and Bill. As I went by the finish area again, I heard Dee and John Makepeace from my club yell, "Go Gord!", and saw Mary and Jimmy Hinze who yelled the same thing. Jimmy added "And I'm not Twinkle Toes!", referring to a nickname I gave him in a caption under a photo of him and Mary running the Aldergrove Ramble, that I'd posted on the White Rock Runners Facebook page. As we reached the bark mulch part of the path in the woods I passed Bill, and not long into the third lap I passed Michelle, and there was only Brian in front of me now, as the others ahead of us had opened a big gap on our little group. I continued to hear people cheering for Bill and Michelle, so I knew they were still in pursuit, but I managed to stay ahead of them and behind Brian.
As we started the last lap I ran by the Hinzes and Makepeaces, who were all volunteering today, pumped my fists in the air and yelled "I didn't get lapped!" I'd heard the announcer saying that Steve Boyd was coming down the chute to win the race, so I sped up and made sure he didn't lap me as he did so.
It wasn't until we were on the final home stretch that I passed Brian at about the same point I'd passed Vas two laps earlier. I was hoping I could hold my lead because I heard him right on my tail as I ran toward the final u-turn.
I rounded it and a race official was standing there telling us to go to the left now and down the finish chute. As it turned out I handily outkicked Brian, but since he's 66 and I'm 52, he finished 2nd in his age group, and I finished 10th in mine. It was an honour to finish ahead of Brian in spite of him being so much older than myself, and I was very fortunate to have someone with his experience to properly pace off the whole race, which helped me to run about 2 and a half minutes faster than last year.
After I crossed the line John Makepeace slapped me on the back and said "Good job!" I talked to Carey Nelson and Rob from the Rubber Ducky, who trains with Carey, plus Teresa Nightingale and a bunch of the other runners, and Jimmy Hinze came up and shook my hand.
Maureen de St. Croix came up as I was talking to Teresa, wondering when the awards would start, and told us they were beginning right away at the Remax tent. First they did the overalls, and then the age groups..
Arjan Gelling was 40th overall and he and Brian Connon, both 66, won gold and silver in their age groups.
Lynette Baldock, also 66, won silver in her AG, and Teresa earned gold in hers.
It was quite a madhouse, as they had races going on constantly, and pretty exciting, but many other people were leaving so I decided to call it a day and head out.
Overall results are up, and I was 10 of 11 in my age group, and 60th overall out of 81. My time was 34:28, a lot faster than last year's time of 36:59, so I'm very happy with that!
Athletics Illustrated has a video online of the men's senior race that gives you some idea of what running the course is like, and features the fastest men in the country with an exciting finish!
My next race was the 5K race at the Vancouver Historic Half Marathon, Sunday, November 25, at 9 AM.