Sunday, August 18, 2013

EndurRun Stage 3 - Bechtal Park 30K Trail Race

Normally a summer Ironman would keep me from doing a race like this, but with my A race not until November, I have taken the time to get involved in a few events I normally would otherwise pass up.

When asked if I would be part of the Health & Performance Men's team to go after the overall win in this years EndurRun Event I jumped on board.   With my focus primarily on the "longer" stuff for Ironman training, I was asked to do the 30K trail race, which was on Tuesday, August 13th.

This 30K race consisted of 6 laps around the trail network at Bechtal Park in Waterloo.   I arrived about an hour or so before the start of the race, which was plenty of time.   The EndurRun event is pretty unique, so there aren't too many people who actually show up and race these stages, so you get a real small time feel.    Even though it is a small event, Lloyd Schmidt and his crew still did a great job of getting everything setup and the trails well laid out.

Just before 8am, Lloyd did his customary roll call for all participants and the race kicked off right at 8am as planned.

For the first kilometer of the race, I pretty much just sat in with the lead group of the Ultra runners (the crazy guys and gals racing the entire event - all stages) to get a feel for what their pace would be like.

As we hit the easiest part of the course, the paved road coming into the park, I slowly pulled away from these guys and was comfortably sitting in second place.   The lead runner, was a fellow relay participant, who I didn't know at the time, but is a very talented runner, Derek Lantz.   He's a 1:13 half marathoner and a very good triathlete, who just this year won the overall title at the Peterborough Half Ironman.   I was very surprised to see how quickly he was pulling away from us.

I knew our team only had a 14 second overall lead in the standings over his team, but I couldn't attempt to match his speed without completely blowing up myself, so I just stuck to what I felt was the right pace for me.

The race was constantly rolling with hills over a combination of pavement, grass, wood chips, dirt and gravel trails, so it was difficult to get into a consistent "fast" rhythm.   That being said, the terrain was constantly changing, so I felt it forced me to be constantly using different muscle groups, which actually made me feel better overall.

The first lap went by in 21:48 (although I think each lap was slightly long at about 5.1K) and I was feeling generally ok with my pacing.   As I got back to the paved section I could see that the lead runner was waaaaay up the road already, so my hopes that he was just going to fade after the fast start were dissipating quickly.

I just focused on my race, and I was quite surprised how quickly each lap seemed to tick on by.  I think this actually made the time go quicker, as I could always focus on the different sections of the course which I knew were never really that far away.

By the third lap, I began taking a gel as we crossed through the finish line section, and would run with it until we got to the entrance into the wooded trail section.   I would then grab some water and put it down and repeat for the next 3 laps.

I would say by the end of the second or start of the third lap I actually started lapping other runners, which I was surprised would happen so quickly.

I'd say I started feeling a bit of fatigue mid way through the 4th lap, but nothing that was causing any issues.

Face starting to tell the tale here
Sean Delanghe (head coach of H&P) and Dave Rutherford (who is running the marathon for our team on the last day) were both around for the entire event and were giving out lot's of encouragement throughout each lap, and before I knew it, I was running through the finish line area and Dave started ringing a bell to signify the last lap.   

I tried picking up the pace a bit knowing I was almost done, but looking back, it was only a moderate increase and I crossed the line for the last time in just under 2 hours and13 minutes, but as I said earlier, each lap was just a bit long I believe, so my Garmin showed 30.52K.

I managed to hold on to my second place result, but finished an incredible 14 minutes back of the winner Derek Lantz, who knocked our relay team way out of the lead.   This was disappointing, but in reality, there was nothing I could do about it.   If I really tapered hard for this race and gave it 110%, I might have been able to go a few minutes faster, but nothing that would have been able to keep us in the lead in the overall standings.

The good news was that I put a bunch of time into the other relay teams, which pretty much locked up 2nd place for us at least.   Overall, I felt I had a good race and was happy to have participated in such a great event.   The post race food was some of the best I have ever seen at a race....ever!!!   The small family feel at the event really made this event stand out and kudos's to Lloyd and his family for putting on a great race.

As of writing this, Stage 6 is in the books and coach Sean had a great race in the 10K coming in just under 37 minutes.   Unfortunately, the first place relay team keeps putting time into us, so we are 99% sure of getting 2nd place overall this year in the relay division, which is still pretty decent.   It has been a really fun event to be part of, and depending how things go next year, I look forward to doing it again.

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