Yesterday on my way to the Weaselhead XC race, I met my friend Dianne at Costco to pick up a cake for a very special occasion. Her husband, Derek Wilkinson, would be running his 100th consecutive CRR XC Grand Prix race that afternoon.
Some of our local die-hard trail runners have run 100 of these races over the years, but no one in the club’s 30+ year history has ever completed 100 in a row, so this was cause for celebration.
Before the race, Kathy Taerum, Series Organizer and Photographer Extraordinaire, had collaborated with others to highlight Derek’s accomplishment. She printed up a big poster of Derek’s running photos, which we tacked up behind the registration table. She brought meter-long banners, which we taped on the soup counter, the club clothing display, the dessert table, the men’s bathroom door, the fridge, and near the start/finish line.
By the noon-time start, the sun shone and the temperature hovered around freezing. 95 racers gleefully headed out over crunchy, technically challenging, hard-and-soft snow towards the rabbit trails. Here’s a shot of Derek heading out gingerly so as to preserve his challenged achilles tendons on the variable terrain near the start/finish.
Only a few runners fell down on the way out. I wiped out within full sight of the finish line myself, but we trail racers are made out of rubber. We bounce back and keep on going.
The Grand Prix series consists of 10 races per year, so 100 consecutive races translates to 10 years of perfect attendance. I remember seeing Derek on this race course a few years back – he’d recently had eye surgery and had started earlier that morning to complete the course by walking it, as he was under doctor’s orders not to run.
Another time Derek had tickets and a flight booked to the most prestigious oldtimer’s hockey game ever in Edmonton, but somehow he managed to pre-run the Okotoks race course that morning before driving straight to the airport and taking in the game in very, very cold temperatures.
After his race yesterday, as at many of these races, Derek stayed behind at the finish and cheered in all the rest of the racers before helping pack up the clock. Derek’s also an organizer of this series, and enjoys keeping it going for others.
Back at the Glenmore Sailing Clubhouse where damp, happy, sweaty participants warmed up with soup and dessert, Rob Stitchbury the race director handed out age group awards and various organizers made announcements. Pink Chick‘s granddaughter, Nikayla, sang a song. Paul Roberts, whose longest race streak in this series stretched to 83 races, presented Derek with a $100 gift certificate to Gord’s Running Store and an engraved bronze popsicle stick like the wooden ones we use in our timing system.
Derek graciously mentioned a few of the other streakers coming up close behind him, told us a few good stories about some of the sacrifices he’d made for the streak, and inspired us all.
My CRR XC race streak is 41 races long so far. I hugged another Roadrunner who completed his 70th consecutive one yesterday. What’s your running streak like? How far do you think you can take it?