Yesterday I ran my 90th consecutive Calgary Roadrunners XC series race (10 races per year), at Nose Hill Park. Due to the tender condition of my foot and the cold weather (-16C?), I prudently signed up for the short option (4km), and dressed in multiple layers. My running buddies and I showed up at the start early enough for a good parking spot, and hunkered down in the warm vehicle until just before the start.
With about 10 minutes to go, runners and volunteers gathered at the start line for last-minute greetings and instruction. I learned that one of our youngsters was taking on the 8km loop without her usual parent tagging along. She wanted to qualify for the series Grand Prix, which means she would finish her 6th 8k distance of the season that day. This is an admirable goal, especially if one is 10 years old. I wished I wasn’t injured, so I could try to stay and celebrate her race with her for the whole way, but no, I was to baby the foot. I should likely not be running at all, but my nine year streak is very compelling.
Race director Trev gave us some brief instructions about the double loop course, and off we went up a hill, and then up another one up to the prairie plateau. I hung out with the qualifying youngster, as she was trotting along at a lovely, steady pace, and if she didn’t mind, I could at least enjoy her company for the first loop. As we reached the top, Penny the noisy, cheerleading course marshal gave us whistles and encouragement. Thanks Penny!
There was a breeze up top, but it wasn’t so bad as we were dressed for it. My toes and fingers were cold for the first couple of kilometers, but they warmed up after that. At one turn sending us back towards a mountain view, Barry, another course marshal, pointed out a huge porcupine on a shrub just off the course. When we went past it looked like it was moving to the far side of bush, but without all its summer foliage the bush wasn’t a very good hiding place. The sun shone and it felt like the air warmed up a smidge.
The course led us down through a wooded area, where we followed a winding path and tried to avoid hugging trees. The kiddo was great at this, and we passed a couple of adults.
Upon emerging from the wood, we were pleasantly warmed up and so was my foot. A course marshal pointed out the 4k turnoff to the finish and I just didn’t want to go yet. I carried on for the second loop with the girl leading the way. We chatted about what she was learning in math and science. We wondered what it would be like to go to Mars. I told her stories about my great grandparents who immigrated from Norway to homestead in the 19th century. Before we knew it, we were back running past Penny on the prairie and the porcupine in the prickles and pell-mell through the poplars again.
The course had a two stage, delightfully long, downhill finish. I encouraged the girl to let loose now – the finish was close – go crazy and give what’s left. She did, and I bounded down, whooping after her. Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy finish lines? and downhills? and downhill finish lines?
Oh happy day! High fives and hugs all round. Off to the hall for chili (OMG fantastic chili) and brownies and connecting with friends.
The foot survived. It’s sorer than I’d like, but that’s the price I paid. Totally worth it. And now I only need one more series 8k to qualify myself for the Grand Prix (out of 2 races left in this season).
If this is something you’re thinking of trying, check out our club photo gallery. You’ll see all kinds of runners out having a blast.