Sept 10-11, 2021
It has been awhile since I wrote a full race report, but it has also been awhile since I got to do an in person race. I signed up for Lost Soul Ultra before the pandemic hit and then had my 2020 race entry carried over to 2021. So, I had a long time to train and prepare. I went into the race in excellent conditioning having logged more distance in the past year than I ever thought I was capable of and I dropped a good amount of weight over the past year. This was my first 100km race but I did have a great chance to prepare through many virtual events over the past year, including Survivorfest (I should write a separate write up about that wonderful experience).
I did the 54km Lost Soul Ultra in 2019, and had a great experience so I knew what to expect from the course and the aid stations and made my plans for the 100km with those things in mind. The race cutoff for the 100km is 21 hours. I finished the 54km two years ago in 9 hours and was completely spent. So I made my plan to aim for a 20 hour finish to give myself an extra hour, just in case of the unknown. I laminated my plan to take with me so that I could check my progress along the way, knowing when I had to leave each aid station and start the next section. I brought drop bags with clean shirts, socks, bandaids, gels, cream, Vaseline, candy, charging cord and battery pack for my watch, headlamp for the night, jacket and electrolyte powder. I was carrying my vest with a 2 litre water bladder and two 350ml bottles for electrolytes.
Race time! 9AM start on Friday. I said hi to some friends and family racing and stretched. Sang the national anthem and off we went! I kept telling myself on the first 7km section, take it easy, this is going to be a long day. Hike the ups, run the flats. The crowd was not bad but everyone was still rather grouped at the end of the first section. I finished the first 7km and skipped the aid station (51 minutes in, plan was 1 hour) and headed straight out on leg 2. This section is 8.4km of steep rolling hills. I was drinking on every climb and took my gels. I was also carrying salt tabs, taking 2 every two hours (kept this up for the whole race). I finished leg 2 at the Softball Alley aid station. Refilled my water and bottles and grabbed some pickles, bacon, and a cookie and headed out for leg 3. I took a picture of my food at each aid station so I could remember what I ate. I took the food to go, no wasted time at stops, always keep moving while eating! I started leg 3 at 10:58am, 32 minutes ahead of schedule.
Leg 3 is 9.6km and has some big climbs. Again I kept up my fluid intake. The weather was perfect. A nice overcast day and I was not overheating. I was taking gels or Welch’s fruit snacks whenever I reminded myself to keep putting in calories. I was still feeling great but the descents were beginning to have an effect on my quads and kicking rocks did not make my feet feel very good. I finished the leg and got my drop bag. The aid station staff filled my water and after I prepped my powder for my bottles they filled those also. I dumped my garbage, refilled my pockets with gels and such, changed my shirt and towelled off. This time I left the aid station with a peanut butter sandwich, some watermelon, and a pickle.
I started leg 4 at 12:34pm, 56 minutes ahead of schedule. This leg is 16.4km. It has more hills but also has a flat runable section along a gravel road, then more hills, and then a flat runable section near the river. Knowing this, I wanted to make sure that I was running those sections. I went pee for the first time on this leg. I got to thinking near the river that all those kilometres I logged on the early mornings and late nights was paying off here. I knew how to run, my body just naturally wanted to do it. I got back to the Pavan aid station, filled my fluids (again, you can’t say it enough, the aid station volunteers here are hands down second to none) and refilled my essentials. This time I grabbed roasted salted potatoes, pickles, and bacon and headed back out on course.
I started leg 5 at 3:12pm (48 minutes ahead of plan), still in great shape. I was texting my wife each time I left an aid station to let her know how I was doing, and to keep a record. The crowd had really thinned out and I didn’t see many runners on course ahead on behind me. This was mainly because of the terrain, so many hills means you can only see a short distance each way. Leg 5 has a few good climbs but is only 6.6km long. At the end of the leg I ran into the aid station and washed my hands. The Softball Alley aid station has a bathroom with running water. I got my fluids filled, had a shot of coke, and grabbed a quarter of a cheeseburger and some bacon and headed back out.
I started leg 6 at 4:23pm (37 minutes ahead of schedule). This leg is only 6.2km but has three large hills before a flat stretch by the Old Man River and under the train bridge. My wife and kids met me by the underpass to see how I was doing, cheer me on, and remind me that I am capable of doing amazing things. I love them so much. I finished leg 6 with the last hill up to headquarters and got straight to work. I grabbed my drop bag, fully changed all my clothes, peed, greased the chafing areas, and treated my feet. First with betadine to dry the blisters and then coated my toes with sudocream to prevent rubbing. Full refuel of fluids, and potatoes, pickles and bacon on my way out, and I was on my way back out for leg 7 (second time at leg 2). I am so much stronger now than I was 2 years ago when I could not have fathomed heading back out after completing 54km. You never know what you a capable of until you set a goal and work to achieve it. Those hours and hours of training can push you wherever you want to go, you just have to be willing to believe in yourself and not give up. Ultra runners are not born capable of running long distances, they are made through perseverance and determination. I am proof of that.
I started the second loop at 5:45pm (still 15 minutes ahead of schedule). I had spend a long time at headquarters but having a clean fresh outfit and well cared for feet was worth it. And I knew that I planned more time for each section in the later half knowing that I would be slower so I was still confident. I grabbed my headlamp and stuffed my jacket into my pack for this loop because it would get dark soon and was calling for rain.
The second time through leg 2 was different from the first time when there were lots of people ahead and behind me. Now I was all alone for the most part. The sun was starting to set. Plenty of time to just think. Reflect on the journey. Kick more rocks and trash your toes! That was not intentional but I kept recovering and had not fallen once. I finished the leg, refilled and grabbed another quarter cheeseburger, bacon and pickles. I love pickles while long running.
I headed out for leg 3 round two at 7:19pm (41 minutes ahead of plan). The night was dark and my headlamp was lighting my way through the hills. I was worried about stepping on or brushing against a cactus but still had my wits about me and was not feeling tired. I do not like moths but they liked my light. It started to rain a bit and I put my jacket on over my pack. Then it stopped and I took it off. I got tired of carrying it and took off my pack to stuff it back in, and then it started to rain again. Of course! So, I took it back out again. I was bored of gels at this point but had some stinger chews and a go go squeeze. As I came up to the Pavan aid station something caught my eye to my left and I turned and there was a deer standing 10 feet from me, just staring at me. My headlamp reflecting off her eyes was pretty eerie. I refilled and changed shirts again at Pavan and got help from a friend volunteering. Fully loaded, I headed out on the long leg with a big bunch of salted potatoes that were freshly cooked and still hot!
Leg 4, round two. I started at 9:30pm (1 hour ahead of plan). I made the first big climb and ran into Dave Proctor (Canadian Ultra Running Royalty). Dave was with his pacer discussing hydration so I didn’t say much. A few hills later they passed me and disappeared into the night. Dave was running the 100 miler which started 2 hours before the 100km runners and he was already 50km further in than I, for he was on his third loop of the course. He ended up setting a new course record. Anyway, back to my race. The rain was now constant but it was not cold. I found that my running pace was almost slower than my walking pace at this point. My quads were so damaged from all the cautious descents. I was peeing regularly now, so I knew dehydration would not be a problem but I did have a few dry heaves. Then, I kicked yet another rock and could not get my feet back under me and took a dive into the dirt. Luckily this was on a flat section. Would have been much worse on one of those steep hills. I brushed off and was no worse off other than knowing that I was going to lose my right big toe nail. I was still in good spirits at 12:58am when I got back to Pavan, knowing that I just had 12.8km until the finish. I drank some warm chicken broth and tried not to waste any time, grabbed a McDonald’s cheeseburger (did I not tell you they have the best aid stations!) and headed out in the pouring rain eating my burger.
An hour ahead of plan still, I knew that there was no doubt, I was going to finish. I was moving slow from tight muscles and chafing but I was still moving and nothing would stop me now. On the trail a little mouse scurried ahead of me at one point. My only company on this leg. The rain was really coming down now so I got in and out of the last aid station as quick as I could. Just washed my hands, filled my bottles, one with ginger ale the other with lemon lime GU, and got moving.
Last leg, 2:58am (32 minutes ahead of schedule). I texted my wife, who is amazing and said that she would come get me at any time, and let her know I should be done in 90 minutes. The rain was now filling the rutted trails and that last descent was pretty scary alone in the dark on a steep muddy slope. I made it down side stepping and sliding and then trudged my way through the last section in the trees, under the bridge through the park and up the final climb. The last climb was not bad because of mesh on the ground to help stop erosion. I picked up the pace to finish strong and crossed the finish line. 19 hours. 22 minutes. 9 seconds.
I sat down in a warming tent to soak in the glory. I had done it. I just completed a tough 100km race with more than 2000m of elevation gain. Me. A guy who used to wear braces on both knees and had trouble walking up a flight of stairs when I was 60 pounds heavier. I have now qualified for Western States.
I dried off and enjoyed some chicken broth by a propane heater. Hanging out with some 100milers that were being made to wait. They closed the course due to safety concerns and were collecting runners and starting to flag the alternate weather route. These race directors are amazing. Not only did they jump into action when the weather made the course too dangerous to proceed but they made sure to round up anyone who was still out there and get them an alternate route so they could finish their races.
I know that I will be back. Until next time, just keep running.