— Project Talaria

Dirty Duo 50k

Despite living fairly close this was my first time running any trails in the North Vancouver area. They lived up to their rep of being muddy, wet and wild!  This was a very cool event, bridging the gap between the trail running and mountain biking communities. Volunteers make these races happen, so THANK YOU to all those who came out and donated their time.

The 50k division started at 8am alongside the 25k relay runners. This made the first few km’s a bit confusing as it was hard to know who was who. I wanted to find a groove early and stick to it. Something I wasn’t able to do at Orcas. I settled in fairly quickly and was running briskly yet comfortably. The trail was wide open for the first few km’s, running alongside a river. Soon after we entered the woods and the course turned to muddy single track with lots of wooden platforms and stairs to navigate. Going into the race I was having issues with the back of my left knee and hamstring. I was rolling the dice a little bit with the race and was hoping things wouldn’t flair up too badly.

I was feeling relaxed and running strong through the first 12k. Chatting with other runners around me and generally enjoying the new trails. I didn’t know the course at all, so I was just taking it as it came. We hit our first real climb around 13km, it wasn’t too steep but it kept going and going. I like this type of climbing as it’s easy to find a rhythm and just put your head down and charge. There was an aid station signaling the top of the climb. The course now followed a downhill mountain bike trail called “Ned’s Atomic Dustbin”. This was fairly technical by trail running standards. lots of rocks, logs and drops to navigate. Good fun!

On the descent I heard footsteps behind me. I was passed by Jeff Hunter (eventual race winner). He was really charging the downhill. We chatted a bit and to my surprise he thought we were the leaders in the 50k race. I tried to match his pace on the descent but it became clear pretty fast that I wouldn’t be able to. I was starting to cramp a bit by this point and the knee was tightening up. To push any harder at this point would have really compromised the rest of my run.

The rest of the race went reasonably well. I continued to fight off cramps with salt pills, an indication that I probly had a bit too much fun over the first 15k or so. My second half was definitely slower than my first, something I want to address in future Ultras. I was able to hold onto 2nd place and finish in a time of 4:21. The last 10k were grueling for me (I swear I’m not trying to make this a habit), as my knee and legs were quite tight.  The course designer saved the muddiest for last. We were run through a mud bog, which I later found out Jeff Hunter lost (and then rescued) a shoe in!

I fixed some of the issues that plagued me at the Orcas 50k, improving my hydration, fueling and pacing. Still have lots to learn in preperation for Leadville, but these hard lessons are better learned now.

Congrats the Jeff Hunter for an AMAZING time of 3:57 (fifth fastest ever on the course) and to Jude Ultra for winning the women’s 50k in a time of 4:58.  Congrats also to ALL the other participants in every category for a great day of racing and biking!

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