Sunday, November 11th was the day of the Remembrance Day 8K cross country race in Stanley Park. At 11 AM one of the racers played the Last Post on his bugle, we stood for a moment of silence, and then we heard the 21 gun salute go off at Victory Square.
Jerry Tighe, the race director, surprised everyone with a quick 3-2-1 count, and we were off! We ran all the way around the field beside Brockton Oval, and then headed off into the woods. I had a bad cold, so my breathing was laboured and even louder than usual as we ran along the wide gravel trail. I came up behind a fellow and he said "I hear you!" and moved over to let me pass, but it took me awhile as he wasn't running that much slower than I was.
As soon as I got past him we hit a short but steep hill, and after we crested it my legs took a little while to shake the lead out. By about the 2K point I was running in a strung out pack, behind a woman with a blonde crew cut. I'd seen her in other races and knew she was fast, so I just stayed behind her as we hit a nice downhill. More small hills and flats followed this, until about the 4K mark where we ran into a stiff wind. Suddenly I heard a guy running close behind, drafting off me. First I sped up, but so did he, so I zigzagged back and forth across the path, and he stayed right behind me. I sped up again and he dropped back for a bit, but then caught up after a short hill. He pulled up alongside me and it was Murray from my club.
I said "It was you drafting off me! I was weaving all over the place trying to get rid of you!" and he nodded and laughed. We'd just passed the 5K point and he said "Here it is, the big one!", and with that we started up Adrian's Hill together. After about 300 meters it leveled out somewhat, and Murray took the lead. 100 meters later we were travelling on flat ground again and I caught up to him. It continued this way, with Murray opening up a lead on me on the hills, and I'd close the gap after the path leveled off.
Not long after the 6K point a fellow in an orange shirt came up from behind and passed us both. Murray ran behind him, with myself tailing Murray, for close to a kilometer, until he tried a breakaway when we hit an open patch of grass. I went with him, passing Murray before crossing a road, veering left for a few meters, and heading into the woods again.
I passed orange shirt and then sprinted down a fairly steep decline, but he stayed with me. As we crossed another road he went by me, and now we hit the field where we'd started. We ran past the finish line for our final lap around the field, and orange shirt had opened up about a 10 meter gap on me, with about 350 meters to go. I sped up but so did he, and first he passed one fellow and so did I. We were pushing each other and passed a couple more guys, and then there was one last hill. The woman with the blonde crew cut was going up it, and he went by her. About 10 meters after I crested it, I did too, but not without a fight. She was giving it everything she had, but finally I passed her and sprinted in, but ran out of real estate before I could catch orange shirt.
Murray and the blonde woman came in right after me, and we bumped fists with each other and some of the other finishers before clearing the finish area. Murray and myself had both noticed the guy in the orange shirt was a little heavy set, and we'd both expected him to run out of steam, but he never did. I told Murray he'd also gazed back as he was passing me for the final time and took a good look, seeming to be judging if I was in his age group or not. I think he determined that I probably was, and that's what spurred him on to beat me. Dee Makepeace and Tom Hastie came in not long afterward, and then John Makepeace, who only did a somersault over the finish line instead of his trademark handstand, due to too much traffic coming in with him.
We'd managed to avoid the rain so far, but it was still only a few degrees above zero, so I went and got my jacket, plus my bell and camera, out of my car. I went back out to the field by the pavilion, about 100 meters from the finish line, and started ringing my bell for the incoming runners. Tina Hansen-Baker from my club came over the hill and said "Run with me to the finish Gord!", so I ran alongside her off course until she was across the line. Maureen de St. Croix and Maurice Wilson were at the line recording people's times and placings, and Maureen said "You know Gord, you just disqualified your runner by pacing her in." and I said "Aah, I never liked her anyway.", and they both laughed. Just kidding Tina, we all love you!
I went back by the pavilion and continued cheering in finishers. After awhile I made my way over to where the runners entered the field for the final lap, and who would appear but Elsie Fontaine and Sarah Makepeace. They made their way around the field, and as they went past the pavilion Tina ran alongside them as I'd done with her, and I got a few (kinda blurry) pics of them completing Elsie's first cross country race.
Now it was time to go up into the pavilion's bar and get warmed up and refueled. They were just bringing the pizza up as I arrived. Outside of that they had prepackaged bowls of Cheerios for "appetizers", plus juice and coffee to drink, and the bar was open too, for those wanting a "wee drop of courage", etc. We milled around eating the various varieties of Fresh Slice pizza and chatting with the other runners. After awhile Brenda came and told me our club had a table, and I went to sit down with my mates.
They had computer problems, plus troubles with online registrants not having a space to enter their age, etc., so it took longer than usual to get race results. Finally Jerry came up with them and left them momentarily on the awards table. A few of us went to look, and I discovered that orange shirt, aka Lea Brownlic, was indeed in my age group, and had beaten me out for a medal by 2.6 seconds!
Jerry came up just then, grabbed the sheets, and started the awards. Dee won her age group and Brenda was third in hers, even though they didn't call her up, they still didn't have her age down. The highlight of the day was Elsie finishing her first cross country race, so it was a very good day indeed as we all headed home.
Here's the results so far: http://www.hersheyharriers.com/remembranceday12.txt
My next race, and the next in the cross country series, is on November 18, the 6.3K Fraser Valley Cross Country Ramble at Clearbrook Park in Abbotsford, at 9:30 AM.