Posted by: Karen | November 7, 2004

Edworthy 8k XC

As I got into the van to go to the race, Michael McDonald was singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” on the radio, and I took it as a sign of encouragement. When the Good Lord encourages me like this I try not to worry about what I’m about to face, eh?

The Edworthy Park XC is set on a huge, North-facing hill on dirt foot paths. Well, in dry weather they’re dirt. Combine our blizzards of a couple of weeks ago with a very warm Chinook wind last week, stick it on a North-facing hill, and we ran a race course of half-melted ice-mud.

It was misty and close to freezing out , so we had no problem with doing a couple of warm-up jogs before the start. I chatted and shivered with friends and we welcomed one of our brave new runners from our Gord’s Store group, who would be racing his first XC. A few seconds before the start I tossed my jacket into the grass beside the timing clock and we were off.

Rabbit and I jogged together at the absolute back of the pack to start. She is breaking in new orthotics and would only be doing the 4k option today. I just needed to start off slow and knew I would pass others on the downhill once the crowd thinned out. As we went along the very edge of the cliff I made myself focus on the path – no looking over the edge!

This race really has only one hill. The challenging part is that for 3/4 of the race one is either going down down down it, or up up up it. As I went further and further down, the half-frozen path got muddier and muddier. The last 1-200m of dirt path to the bottom were covered in at least an inch of soft, slick clay over bumpy ice, and the bush didn’t leave much room to skirt around the mud. I tried going straight down a couple of times and involuntarily did some amazing dance moves. I eventually ended up zig-zagging down with a few steps on each side at a time, while giving up a few big hollers of YAHOO! for courage.

The volunteer at the bottom warned me to watch for the ice but didn’t warn me about the mini-marsh just around the corner. It was a good thing I still had momentum from coming down the hill, so I could bound through the shoe-sucking, grassy mud patch and keep on going. Ah, if one doesn’t have a good splatter of mud up the back side in a race like this, one hasn’t raced hard enough!

We went through more mud, and then back UP the hill via a more switch-backed route. The route was very slippery and had more slushy ice than the other route I’d just come down. As I headed up I kept having to pull over for skinny-fasts lapping me. Did I mention the 8k course is a double loop? I suppose I didn’t have to pull over, but I didn’t see how else they would make it past. I heaved my gasping self up to the top, recovered my breath with a gentle jog on the grassy crest, and then plunged crazily back down again for the second loop.

This time down I had to take it a little more carefully, as not only was the mud even muddier, but my legs were getting wobbly. My eyes were tearing from having to focus on so much ground passing under me. At one point I just grabbed a tree, held on for a few seconds and took some deep breaths. I gave a few hearty yahoos and made a few more involuntary dance moves, but I kept my face out of the turf. A couple of times I nearly ended up with an armpit full of mud, but somehow managed to right myself just in time.

Past the ice volunteer again, through the mini marsh again, along the grassy bottom towards the up-path. I passed a walker and asked her how her walk was going. She said “Great! and how is your run?” I just grinned and sang “Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough…” I sang it a couple more times as volunteers asked how I was doing on the way back. The song infused me with much-needed energy as I searched for solid bits on which to place my feet in the ice-mud. The way back up the second time was actually easier, because more runners had chewed up the slush, so my shoes gripped better, and I wasn’t pulling over for anyone.

The last km on the top of the hill seemed to dipsy-doodle hither and yon forever. Follow the flags, follow the flags… I went back along the dirt path on the very edge of the cliff again – don’t look down! As I crested just one more knoll I spotted the Pink Lady just ahead of me. I caught up to her and we ran in together. Rabbit had come in earlier and came back to cheer us in, so we crossed the line with lots of whoops of joy. Yo-go made it back shortly after, and we all headed to the hall for soup and dessert.

I was very surprised when I saw my time – I had taken 7 minutes off of last year’s Edworthy time! Maybe the mud wasn’t so bad after all. πŸ™‚



  1. Sounds like a fun race. Uh, if hills are your thing. πŸ™‚ Mud. Nothing like a good mud run! πŸ™‚

  2. that sounds like one heck of a fun race! see, ANYONE can run when it’s dry, solid ground. only the hard runners like it muddy, messy and challenging. glad to hear you enjoyed it, and glad you were muddy, messy and challenged!

  3. I got hooked on the local 8k XC series here a few years ago. I have even been dead last in the darn things a few times, but I love ’em. The mud was remarkable this weekend, because this series is held mostly in the winter months, and we usually do the trails on ice and snow.


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