Posted by: Karen | December 3, 2006

Okotoks XC Race 2006

Yesterday Dawn and Giovanna and I headed south of town to a private country school near Okotoks for a race. This race is the fourth in the 10-race Grand Prix series of 8k races held in and around Calgary throughout the winter. Call us nuts, but these races are a total blast, and very addictive.

Half the fun of these races is finding the location, and we did our fair share of getting lost in the country side, trying to remember how to get there. Good thing a) we started out early and b) the race didn’t start until noon.

When we got to the school we went through the usual pre-race clothing dithers. I’d misplaced a Yaktrax, and had to run back to the car for it. No, I didn’t end up running in circles with only one traxed foot 🙂

The sunny day, snow-cover, and gorgeous ravine made a pristine setting for the course. It was around -10C/14F out with a very light breeze. It didn’t feel very cold to me – I think getting out in the colder weather last week helped me acclimatize. Wearing my silly fleece maple leaf shaped hat also made it hard for me to feel cold or grumpy.

In my first loop I had lots of company, and we back-of-the-packers spent the first 15 minutes or so sorting ourselves out. Nancy C, Nadine and I chatted merrily as we followed the undulations of the path. Nadine peeled off ahead once she got warmed up. Nancy had done another race earlier that morning, so left me for the 4k finish line at about 35 minutes.

The course went in and out of the ravine, through trees and up on ridges, with varying exposure to sun and wind. There was some ice and hard-packed snow under a sugary dry inch or so of loose snow. My earmuffs only lasted 10 minutes on my ears, and spent the rest of the race around my forearm. I frequently alternated between wearning my mitts and carrying them, shrugging my jacket on and off my shoulders.

I carried on into my second loop nearly alone except for the volunteers. One of them asked me if there was anyone else behind me. I didn’t know – I wasn’t looking that direction! Eventually after climbing way up on a ridge I did glance back and spot Dave behind me in the coulee below. The thought that he might catch up was quite motivating, and I think it helped me achieve a negative split on the second loop.

At 47:55 on my watch I saw a little heart drawn into the snow by the ridge path and knew Dawn had left it for me in her first loop. I smiled real big and pressed on with renewed energy. I trotted past the last few volunteers and thanked them heartily as I went by.  Finally I made it to the finishing field and waved to Dawn and her camera as I finished. Woohoo!

I greeted my friends inside the school and tucked into a hot bowl of south western chicken & black bean soup. I hadn’t had time to bake before the race, but instead had brought a container of cut up pineapple for the dessert table. I nibbled on a decadently rich nanaimo bar while the race director read out the results.

Catch up on Dawn’s report and photos here and Kathy’s photos here to see the wondrous scenery, challenging terrain, and big smiles out on the course.



  1. What fun! These races sound like a blast accross the internet. Must be quite the pot luck party in person. Glad to see you’re back at the races after the knee injury.

  2. Karen: I got the package today! You are so incredibly sweet to have gone to so much trouble. I gave you and Dawn a big shoutout on my blog. Thanks again for the great gift.


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