After 5 p.m. I gave my car keys to Nicole and we headed over to sop up some of the race vibes. I recognized and chatted with several Calgary Roadrunners I knew from the CRR Grand Prix series; Bruce Dalton, Lindsay McLaren, Jen Silverthorn and both Kens as mentioned previously. I used the portapotty and then did a tiny jog to warm up and make sure my double-tied laces were cinched to my liking and loosen up muscles that had sat in the car most of the day.
Our team had calculated our estimated paces and arrival times on a spreadsheet, so we had a general idea of what time each hand-off would take place. In the last few stages of the race there are enforced cut-offs, where if a team hasn’t made it to a certain point by a certain time, the next racer must begin their part anyway, without waiting for a hand-off. Everyone still gets to finish their part, and their times are noted, but this way the slower teams still get to finish in time to join the barbeque at the end.
I had been told that our team wasn’t likely to make it in before the Leg 9 station cut-off at 6:00 p.m., so I deliberately did not visualize an exciting hand-off in my mental preparations. I did cheer on other teams as they handed off, and let their enthusiastic waves heighten my anticipation.
Suddenly Kathy from our team came out of nowhere. She had run earlier in the day and was now wearing the reflective vest as required by team support members. She was wide-eyed, out of breath and talking fast.
“Karen! Quick, get in the hand-off lane! We’re going to make it in before the cut-off!”
Cool! I hopped into the hand-off lane and grinned like a kid on Christmas morning while Kathy snapped a quick photo. Then we all yahooed while Shauna came ’round the corner, tagged my outstretched hand and I took off, barely touching the ground.
Most of the racers in the K-100 ran on pavement like this. They went up and down big hills, but it was still a lot of hard asphalt with big, gradual curves around and cut into mountains. I don’t have any pictures of my route, because I was too busy running it.
I started out with 3 km of very flat, paved bike path that wound lazily through a marshland, with occasional bridges over creeks. I had only left the station a brief minute or two before the cut-off, so I settled into something I call my 10k pace and waited for the other faster runners to catch up. As they passed me, I joshed them: “Working up an appetite? Save me some dessert!” or “Save me a beer!”
I really wanted to walk after the first 15 minutes, and I think I did allow myself a brief 30 second break, but I was still on the flat, so tried to keep the running momentum going at least until I started climbing.
At one point the paved bike path led me out across a bridge on the highway, and who was passing by that very moment, but Nicole, Kathy and Denise in my car! They cheered me on, stopped the car, and Kathy started running ahead of me to get some pictures. She wanted a shot with the river in the background, so at her request I actually stopped and posed. Then I was off and running again, back into the bush, around a campsite, and on to the first water stop.
The first water stop involved a nice looking older couple with a big jug of water and a stack of powerade cups, set up at a picnic table under a big patio umbrella. I stopped for a mouthful, thanked them, received encouragement and trotted over to begin climbing up a wide dirt trail. Yay, dirt!
To be Continued in Part 4…