I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge, no matter how big or small, whether it be testing my own physical limits like when I did my first proper mountain marathon of over 50 miles in the Swiss Alps, or when testing mental strength like doing the Barry 40, going round and round and round in circles to complete 161 laps of an athletics track. Ok, they may be insignificant when compared to challenges undertaken by the likes of Jez Bragg and Lizzy Hawker (both of whom I’m honoured to have met whilst on the same GB team when competing in ultra distance races in the past), but we all have to start somewhere - even learning to ride a bike and staying on for more than a minute can be a challenge for some people!
But I digress, and I’m waffling again……
Since September last year, I’ve merrily been competing in the Calgary Road Runners Cross Country events. I haven’t been outstanding but I’ve done ok and I’ve enjoyed doing them. I was really looking forward to the next race this coming Saturday, and with feeling a bit fitter and stronger lately, I wanted to be fresh and was raring to go to give it my all and kick some ass so to speak.
Cue a little bird, whispering something about 5 races in one day being my kind of thing – I ought to consider it. A posse of folks had already signed up for the 5 and it would be cool if I gave it some thought. I’ve certainly done 2 races in a day in recent months, but 5 just sounded silly and reckless – I’m supposed to be an experienced athlete that should know better. Yet the seed was planted and whilst I battled my thoughts about wanting to concentrate on the cross country and perform well, the other part of me was thinking back to the 24 hour Thunder Run in the UK when I ran 5 x 10km loops in 24 hours as part of the Trentham RC relay team – how different would 5 races in a matter of 8 hours really be? A quick browse of the internet and a few calculations showed that running all 5 races was actually feasible.
The plan would be to drive from Chaparral to Edworthy Park (distance 30km) for a 10am start in the MEC Hot Chocolate 10km. Once finished, drive a further 15km north to Tuscany for a 12 noon start at the 7th race in the CRR XC Grand Prix – race distance approximately 8km. Once finished, grab some lunch, a donut and a coffee (NOTE: ensure location of nearest Tim Hortons is known, otherwise give up now!), and drive 20km north (ish) to arrive in Cochrane for the Winter Fest Carnival. Here there would be a series of family fun runs as part of the festivities ,with the option of running a 3km at 3.30pm, a 5km at 4pm, or a 10km at 5pm – alternatively, there was the opportunity to do all 3, covering the 18km in one go. Total running distance throughout the day would be around 36km, finished off by pony rides, fun in the pacman maze, log sawing and snow art, hot dogs and drinks. It seemed like the perfect day and with my support crew of Andy and Wilson, and assuming no traffic holdups, how could I resist?
I blame hitting the “register” button on a nervous twitch that I have in my right hand that gets progressively worse when scouring the internet for races and obscure challenges – something that apparently is common amongst runners no matter what their country of origin! Another side effect is impulses to the brain, where even though common sense is saying don’t be stupid, the brain is sending out a different signal causing silly grins and an uncontrollable nod of the head, and an almost obsessive need to do crazy things. I’m sure I’m not alone in my suffering…….
And so it is that this Saturday, I will be “racing” the cross country after all except I will also be doing another 4 races, totaling 36km all together. I’d feel quite relaxed if I was just doing a marathon, knocking out consistent steady miles - that really wouldn’t bother me - but anything 10k or less really isn’t my thing and usually means picking up the pace, running a bit more quickly and enduring lots of pain – essentially a speed session that hurts. I know I’m going to be knackered, but I also know that it’s going to be lots of fun, and for some crazy reason, I’m actually looking forward to it :o)