On Saturday, May 11th I competed in the 5 Peaks Golden Ears 8.8K Sport trail race, in beautiful Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge. At 9:15 AM they sent off the first wave. It was chip timed but to qualify for overall awards you had to be in the first wave, plus they said if you were planning on running a fast race you should be in there also. I told Vas that was us, and we took up spots very near the front of the pack. There was also a 14K Enduro race, and we all took off at the same time, running down a path to the walkway along the lake shore, and heading down it for about a hundred meters before we hit the woods. Very shortly we encountered a small creek that we had to get across. It was only about a meter wide but the tough part was the short but super steep descent and ascent over rough terrain and coming out of it unscathed.
Once out of there we ran along some paths through the forest. Vas was ahead of me but I finally caught up to him. I passed him but he stayed right behind me. A guy who looked to be in my age group passed me, and soon after we headed up a slight incline on a very rocky path, and I noticed he'd slowed up and darted by him.
He'd looked really drained when I went by him so I didn't expect to see him again, but a few minutes later I heard someone coming up behind me at a fast pace, and it was him again! I sped up trying not to lose him, and Vas was now running almost side by side with me. We came up to where we had to make a righthand turn, and I noticed his bib was yellow, not white like ours, meaning he was in the Enduro race. Since he wasn't competing with me anyway, I breathed a sigh of relief, one less opponent to worry about.
We came up to where they split the 2 races, and they sent us up a steep hill on the mud, rock & root trail. A fellow was about 10 feet in front of me, but soon I heard no steps behind me. We wound our way up the trail, which after awhile seemed never ending. We would hit a flat spot and start trying to pick up some speed, but it was never more than a few meters later that the uphill suddenly continued. We both managed to keep running almost the whole way, albeit slowly. Vas told me after the race that he'd managed to run the entire uphill, and I told him the only time I'd walked was when the fellow in front of me did, but it was only twice and for about 10 seconds each time.
Finally things leveled out, and soon we were heading down a fairly steep decline. The trail was littered with tons of rocks, some of them a bit jagged, and so the going was slow and hard on the quads. A volunteer waiting along here said "Looking strong, way to go!", as I ran toward him, and then "Those rocks are dangerous, be careful!", just before I reached where he was.
After a couple of hundred meters it became a little less steep, and a lot less treacherous, and I was finally able to run normally again and pick up some speed. I hit a winding single track trail, and wound my way up it on a slight incline. Soon I heard someone behind me, and I moved to my right to let the person pass, and it was a young (to me) woman. She said "Thanks!" as she went by, and I said "No problem, go get 'em!" as she sped away. Not long after this I had someone else on my tail. I sped up and we were going the same pace for awhile, but eventually I heard "On your left!", and I moved over to let yet another young woman go by me. A couple of minutes later I was passing a guy myself, and I didn't hear him behind me anymore after only a short while.
Soon I was going through the creek again, and then I was out of the woods and on the concrete path along the beach. I heard the announcer at the finish line, and saw a fellow running about 20 meters in front of me, almost at the point where he'd turn left and run up the path to the parking lot. I sped up and managed to close on him, but by the time I was a few meters behind him, and he'd almost reached the parking lot, my legs started to feel like lead. I was almost out of gas from my surge, but I told myself that I was almost there, and to just keep going. There were plenty of people cheering us on, and when I reached the parking lot there was the finish line about 50 meters away. I managed one last burst of energy and ran for all I was worth until I was across the line, and the announcer was calling out my name and my club's name too.
Vas came in next behind me, and he said we must have done well, as there were hardly any other finishers in yet. I told him that's why I said we should be up near the front at the start, as we were 2 of the fastest in the field here today. The fellow who I'd passed came in next, patted me on the back, and said "I've finished behind you in quite a few races now!"
The food tables were stocked with sliced honeydew melons, watermelon, oranges, and bananas, plus chocolate chip and raisin cookies and various cut up bagels, with Nutella, peanut butter, jam and cream cheese to spread on them. There was also water, E-Power, and coffee to rehydrate with.
I grabbed a couple of cookies and banana pieces, spread some Nutella on a couple of bagel slices, and headed to my car and got my camera. On the way back I took some pictures of people coming up to the parking lot, and a few of them going over the finish line.
They posted results, and Vas and myself had finished 10th & 11th overall, and I won my age group, while Vas was 3rd in his. Willi Ribi has moved up an age group this year, and finished 2nd in the male 60-69 category, the 2 women who'd passed me ended up being the 1st & 2nd overall females.
Chris Barth came in as the Enduro finishers started arriving, and in spite of persistently injured feet managed to finish 5th overall, while Willi's son Marcus was 7th. Walter Kwan had decided to run the Enduro race, and he finished, but he'd turned his ankle and was lucky just to make it in without further damage. He told me he'd better get some ice on it and headed for the first aid booth staffed by North Shore Rescue members. A little later he came up and said he'd be heading out now, he wanted to get home and rest his ankle, so we shook hands and said we'd see each other next time.
After most of the runners were in they started the awards right on the finish line, so any runners who did come in later actually got the most applause. Unfortunately quite a few people hadn't stayed for the ceremonies, so I was up there myself. Vas at least had one other guy up there with him, while Willi had the full complement. I didn't care, just very happy to get my medal, as was Vas!
They used to have wooden medals, but changed it up this year, and we now get nice ceramic ones.
I told Vas that I had to leave as I had a ferry to catch to make the Q's Victoria Track Meet at 6:30 PM that day, where I'd be racing the 800 meters, so I bade him farewell and headed for the terminal.