The Altra crew! I was pumped to finally meet fellow Ambassadors Erin and Ignacio!
Bibs pinned, let's go!
I really did not know what to expect. I have ran trails before, but they were all well groomed, clear pathways that just so happened to be surrounded by trees! The kids race was a short 600 metre fun run, mostly mud free for them. I had chosen the 10.8km Enduro course, which is 2 laps of the 5.4km Sport course.
As mainly a road racer, I wore a long sleeve pullover thinking I would not be working as hard, and I may get cold. HA! After the first lap, I ripped off my bib, and tossed my sweater towards the aid station. Yes, my pace may have been slower than if I were running a road race, but all the dodging of tree roots, rocks, all while running up and down the endless hills of the Niagara Escarpment was keeping me pretty warm! Thrown into the mix of tactical footing was plowing through ankle deep mud. This I actually thoroughly enjoyed. I was trashing my Lone Peaks with mud, and all over my legs! So fun!
In past road races, I have complained about everything from the terrain to the wind. I am generally accustomed to getting from point A to point B in a race as fast as possible. To me this means, taking the tangents on a course, staying on an even part of the road, hoping for no wind, hoping for good conditions. In a trail race, I found I had to concentrate on my footing immensely! After my ankle sprain in February, I am probably more worried and conscious than the average person. You don't like uneven footing? Shut up and run. You want a flat, fast course? HA! Shut up and run. Mud slowing your footing down? Shut up and run. Tangents? I'm not sure that is even relevant in a conversation about a trail race. Shut up and run. I definitely felt like a princess road racer after I conquered the 10.8km course!
While a trail race is obviously very different than a road race, I think it is something that everyone should try at least once! The contrast in conditions and terrain is something I think will make a stronger runner overall, physically and mentally. If you have mainly stuck to the roads, and found the trails a little intimidating, there are shorter races available in the 5 peaks series and they are great for all levels. Personally, I am happy that I had the opportunity to run there! My muddy shoes are kind of like a badge of honour to me. I am proud of them! I am looking forward to retuning to Heart Lake in this series.
After the races were over, the awards ceremony began. In this series everyone is acknowledged, age groups, overall, even the kids 3km! (SO CUTE) When "Heather" was called up as a 3rd place female, I stood waiting for her to walk up. When race director Erin, called "Heather" again, I clued in and realised it may be me. I was baffled at how I managed this in my first trail race, but I will take it! Last surprise in a day of many was when I was all packed up and ready to head out, and Erin called me up one more time as first in my age group. The medals are super cute and very unique! Given that I am a total newbie to this, I am very grateful to have made it to the podium!
Photo credit: Sue Sitki Photography
Photo credit: Sue Sitki Photography
Have you ever tried a trail race before? ANY reservations you may have about them, toss them to the side! Try something new. Get dirty. Run through mud like a kid. Admire the awesome scenery around you. It was refreshing to not be running past building after building in a concrete jungle. You may surprise yourself and love it. There are still five races left in the 5 Peaks series. Comment below on this post with which race location you would like to try, and why. A winner will be chosen at random and awarded FREE entry into a future 5 Peaks race of YOUR choice! Entered and didn't win? That's ok because you will still receive a code for $5 off the entry fee. That way you have no reason to miss out! Comment by May 15, and winner will be announced May 16th!