Sulphur Spring 100 Mile Rundown

The following is a dramatic retelling of the events that took place between the morning of May 26th through May 27th.  Places and names may have been changed to protect the identities of the innocent.

Pre-race glamour photo
It was a crisp dark morning on Saturday, May 26th, 2018.  4:15am.  I'd gotten a few hours of sleep since landing the night before, as I flew from Fernie, BC to Hamilton, and was feeling about as fresh as the Hamilton air (bazinga?).  I drove with my amazing, patient, and awesome wife (she is going to read this you know) to the start line in Ancaster, where I would run, and she would crew for the next 24-30 hours.  I grabbed my race package, and asked around for some intel on the course (I was highly prepared!)

The race took place at the Dundas Conservation area, and consisted of eight 20km loops, each with about 600 meters of elevation change.  Each lap began running down a long hill, then ended running up the same hill.  The course also featured a lot of overlap (which I hadn't paid any attention to until it was dark and my brain was carb starved).

6:00am- I begin running, the 50 mile and 100 mile people start together.  I descend the first hill, and the course begins a general decline with some undulation for the first 4.5km.  The first aid station comes entirely too quick.  The spread looks pretty good, but as the wise sage once said, 'ain't nobody got time for that'.  So I boogie on into the next stretch. It's 9-10km to the next aid station, great trail, and progressively uphill.  I'm running with a triathlon dude, who is running the 50 mile, and we are having a good conversation.  The time flies, and I haven't been paying much attention to the course.\

7:00am- Still running between the two aid stations, being a chatty Kathy, and meeting lots of awesome people.  We hit the second aid station, which looks pretty decent, and head out on a 5k loop before we end up back at this aid station, then a quick road run to the 20km mark and the next loop.
The 5km loop consists of a climb called the '3 sisters'.  I'm expecting hell (google 3 sisters Fernie, I'll wait). Welcome back.  So I am expecting a pretty epic climb, but it turns out to be pretty chill, and super runnable.  I bomb the 5km, and begin on the road back to the end of the lap.  Right before the climb got steep, I see a driveway sign '222'.  I decide to walk the hill from this point.  It gets steep.

8:00am- I've just finished fueling for the second lap. I've grabbed a Boost meal replacement, because nothing says Mmmmm like an oily warm milky beverage during a run.  It's getting hot out.  I had to change my shirt from the sweat and humidity.  Luckily, I've run into a dude named Julian, also headed out on leg 2.  I decide to chill with him, and we begin a nice, chatty pace for leg 2.  We knock of the first 5k no problem.  I refilled my bottle this time at the aid station, as I'm expecting this heat to suck.  The next, long portion in between the aid station still goes quick, I however decide to take a dirt bath, and go heels to Jesus on the only patch of mud on the entire course.  I'm covered.   I look like I run trail now.

9:00am- Still grooving on the trail, feeling pretty good vibes about the whole thing.  We make a good clip to the next aid station, and carry on to the 3 sisters climb.  Julian and I are still chatting it up, he seems like a good guy.  We continue on, and stop at the dreaded '222' marker to walk the hill before making it back to the staging area, because who doesn't like walking the hill when you have an audience?

10:00am- People are cheering our names (which they know because they are on our bibs, and stories of our Valor have spread throughout the empire no doubt).  I lift my arms and yell, 'ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED??'.  The crowd cheers.  We slow jog it in.  I run to the outhouse.  My wife has another Boost for me, Mmmmm, and I fill my bottles.  Sweet baby Jesus it's getting hot.  I;ve had about 6 liters of water and Gatorade so far.  I'm alone now, but undeterred.  I'm ahead of my goal to finish in 24 hours, so I'm not worried.  I've changed my shirt, but my camo bucket hat and muddy shorts and legs are the real tale of the tape.  Legs still feel pretty sexy though, so I run strong for the next hour.

11:00am- Did I mention it's getting warm and humid?  I'm being very careful to refill my bottle.  I look like a hot mess.  When I'm approaching the first aid station, and they ask for my bib #,  I just tell them, 'the ever sexy 151 is on approach!'.  I am soaked.

12:00pm- The long bit between aid stations goes quickly.  Leg's feel good, shorts are soaked, groin is getting chaffed.  Life is good.  The 3 sisters portion is uneventful, and life is good.

1:00pm- The road to the last aid station was... a road.  It's hot, and I'm happy to hit the '222' sign and get my free walk.  The crowds continue to chant my name, so i know I must be special, and I put on my serious walker face.

2:00pm- More warm boost, and some other goodies awaited my at the check point.  My wife is killing it as a one person crew.  She's made 3 trips to Walmart, and 1 trip into Hamilton for me.  My sister, her husband, and their 8 month old are at the staging area to cheer me on.  I steal my nephew for some baby power before heading out on lap 4.  Legs feel great. That's about it.

3:00pm- The running is going well.  The chaffing not so much.  I've sweat through three shirts, two pairs of shorts, and changed shoes.  It's cooking.  The aid stations recognize the 'ever sexy 151' this lap.  I'm sure the musk I'm emitting is preceding me.  The trails are starting to thin out as the shorter distances are finish their races, so I've been running alone for this lap as well.

Hot.  Steamed the lens.
4:00pm- I knocked off the first 50 mile just over 9 hours.  I was feeling good about that.  I have my first goal race of the year 6 weeks after this one (Sinister 7), so I am aiming for a 24hour finish.  It's getting super hot, allegedly it's going to be 36 degrees with the humidity.  I stagger into the first aid station, feeling the heat.  I should have spent some more time in the transition area before heading out on this one.  I begin the long part between the two aid stations. I'm 90% sure that the race director has been out changing the flagging since the last time I did this.  The hills are larger, much larger.  It's also not the 9-10km it's been all day.  It's gotta be like 15km now.  And what happened to all the tree cover????  I'm watch the green medic quads zipping around the trails, picking up zombie walkers, dying in the heat.

5:00pm- I made it to the aid station finally.  I'm in trouble and I know it.  I ask if I can lay down in the shade beside the aid station, announcing that 'The sexy 151 needs his beauty sleep'.  I crash in the mud for about 30 minutes.  Fighting those awful full body cramps.  I felt like Kevin Costner in Dancing with wolves.  You know the scene at the beginning where Kevin is trying to get his boots on so they don't amputate his legs?  That's me.  Trying not to get sucked in by the siren's song of the medic quad.  I must move before my body stops working.

6:00pm- Still at the aid station.  I ask the aid station angels for scissors.  Then I ask them to avert their gaze.  What they are about to witness would scare future generations. I drop my running shorts, and snip out liner. Damn chaffing will be the end of me before this heat!  Body is starting to get hold onto food though. This is positive.
(Quick FB live once I got on the move again)

6:30pm- I bid the good people of aid station two a good day.  I can walk again, although I have a decided 'City Slickers' walk.  Like I've just ridden a horse all day for the first time, or I am in chaffing hell.  I decided I can walk out the leg, and pick up my pacer.  My race is over at this point, but I really want to finish, even if it is a death march.

7:30pm- The '222' sign never looked so sexy.  I would kiss it if it didn't mean the extra effort.  I make it back to the staging area.  My wife looks thrilled to see me, and she's dressed to impress (did I mention after crewing me all day, she's now going to run 40k?).  Awesomenss.

7:38pm- My wife was prepared for chaffing hell, and had a pair of wonder undies for me to put under my running shorts.  Praise the Lord!  It's a holy miracle, I can run again.  I pop a pain pill (first one today) to keep down the shin splint, change shoes, and we head off around 8:00pm.

8:00pm- My wife, Bonnie (guess I could use her name eh?), and I bomb down the first hill.  We are aiming for a three hour lap.  Bonnie is super energetic, as she knows I could use some positive energy.  As we approach the first real hill, she starts power hiking up it, explaining that, as we live in the mountains, if we don't get the hills done faster than everyone else, we will bring shame on our community.  Life is good.  Legs are feeling recovered.

9:00pm- We hit the first aid station, and the volunteers were so amazing.  The spread has gotten much better now, and real food is making an appearance.  I declare it is officially, a 'Run Between Restaurants', and we move on to the next aid station to see what the next restaurant has in store for us.

heart rate day 1
10:00pm- Mmmmmm.  Quesadillas.  I don't remember what I ran, or what we talked about, but I remember the amazing quesadillas at aid station 2.  I tell the aid station that I'm feeling sexy again, and that I'll be back after the 5km 3 sisters loop for more quesadillas.

11:00pm-  I share the joy of the '222' road sign with Bonnie.  She laughs, I laugh, the racoons laugh. We get into the transition area, and plan to spend another 30 minutes there.  We were bangon the 3 hours run time.

12:00am- 18 hours in.  Groovy.  We are somewhere in the abyss between the start and the first aid station.  My wife receives a text at this point that my next pacer won't be able to make it for the last 20km.  Her solution?  She'll run the whole 60.  The Catch?  Her longest run to date is a marathon.  This is going to be epic.

heart rate day 2
1:00am- We've loaded up with wine gums and candies at the first restaurant.  I should mention at this point, I don't use a GPS device, I use a fitbit, and all distances have been measured in how many steps it takes me.  Every 1000 steps is a piece of candy.  This seems to work, and get us to the next restaurant.

2:00am- We are still going strong.  I binge ate all the quesadillas at the second restaurant, then came back for seconds after the 3 sisters loop.   So good.

3:00am- We hit the blessed '222' sign, but at this point, I'm mentally fatigued.  I explained that I would need a 30 minute nap in between the last two legs.  The previous nights sleeplessness has comeback with a vengeance.  I hit the chair, closed my eyes, and slept for what felt like hours.  I woke up with a gasp realizing that I must have overslept! My wife (and the relay team sitting beside us) laughs.  turns out I was out for less than 3 minutes.  Adrenaline eh?

4:00am- The first restaurant was good.  The aid station angles hugged me, and I was saddened that I may never see them again #22hourRunThoughts.   We are somewhere between the two restaurants, and we keep running into people going the other way.  I try to stay calm and trust my sign following skills, but 22 running me is going squirrely inside.  There is almost a frantic pace on the course now. People are going every which way, all  wanting to be done.

5:00am- RESTAURANT TWO! I inhale some heavenly soup (noodles) and eat all their quesadillas again, even putting some in my short pockets.  MMmmmm Pocket quesadillas.  We are absolutely motoring now.  We hit the top of 3 sisters, and the sun is beginning to rise.
(A fun Video fun the run)

5:45am- RESTAURANT TWO!!  One last shot of pocket quesadillas and we are on the road.  Bonnie is about to complete her first 60K, and if I can keep moving, I'll turn my flaming pile of garbage 80-100k portion into my goal time.  We hit the '222' sign, and I go for it.  Bonnie tells me to leave her behind, and I sprint up the hill.  Chaffing and shin splints be damned.

5:57am- In my typical drama queen fashion, I cut it close to the wire.  Bonnie comes in a few minutes behind me.  I hit my goal with 3 minutes to spare.  Then we do what every person who runs 24 hours does.  Packs bags, haul gear, and drive home. Mission complete.

Would I do this one again?  8 loops of the same patch of dirt.....most certainly.  Its a different kind of race than the alpine or desert stuff I'm used to.  The aid stations are second only to the Blackfoot Ultra in Edmonton (Bacon Chocolate chip cookies, and Bacon Cinnamon buns, that's some stepped up game right there!).  So I would like to send out some positive vibes to the RD and volunteers for making the race so much fun, and I would like to apologize to anyone at aid station/restaurant 2, that saw more of me than they wanted/hoped to.

Keep Hammering,

Canadian Ghost Runner

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