On the morning of February 7 2015, I prepared to run my 100th consecutive Calgary Roadrunners XC race in Nose Hill Park. It was a lovely day for the time of year in Calgary. I chose some of my favourite running clothes: my Penguin jersey, the toque I knitted to celebrate a decade of running, and the first pair of mitts I knitted. I taped the arches of my feet so they wouldn’t blister from my orthotics. I baked brownies from scratch, and the smell of chocolate filled the house while I got ready.
At the race start I tried to stay modest as friends congratulated me on showing up for my 100th race in a row. Sarah and Dawn, the registration volunteers that day, teased me by saying I wasn’t allowed to register. Race director Trev gathered us up for instructions (no earbuds or headphones, follow the flags, etc.) and upon his “GO” we trotted up the hill east of the Brisebois Drive parking lot.
Friends Ken and Karin G. climbed the stages of the massive hill with me, and we groaned, as the ascent seemed endless. In between gasps for air, I cheered us up with a parody of a children’s song:
This is the hill that never ends, yes it goes on and on, my friend!
Some people started running it, not knowing what it was,
and they’re together running it forever just because…. (repeat)
(with apologies to Sharon, Lois and Bram)
I was honoured to run some of the first lap with Dave I-H, who founded the Nose Hill race 30 years ago. He’s always a pleasure to chat with. Kevin kept us company while waiting for his youngest daughter and her friend in the first loop. Derek ran with us and snapped pictures with his big camera.
Did I mention it was a lovely day? The sky was bright blue, and the sun shone between artistically arranged clouds, and there was a little breeze. From the high plateau of Nose Hill Park we had great views of the Calgary downtown skyline and the blue Rocky Mountains.
We were lapped by a couple of front runners before we got to the copse of trees. The elites were fast this year! More passed us in the trees, but it wasn’t hard to pull off the path to let them through. This part of the course is a steep, snowy descent, and it was fun to bounce down. Kathy caught us on her big camera as we dodged trees.
Once out of the woods, we turned back up the big hill for the second loop. I felt okay on the climb, and thought I might be pacing myself well enough to run the whole course, so I set that as a goal. I would take no walk breaks during today’s 8k race.
Karen Ch. finally passed me on the top in the second loop. She often starts our races late. Wow, she must have started really late this time. I ran on my own for a while and enjoyed the views again. When I looked back for Ken, I saw a kid running with an adult nearby. Hmm, Kevin and Kaiza? No time to think about that, it was time to bounce down through the trees again – wheeeeee!
Then there was more delightful downhill – 400 metres of speed-inducing, stride-enhancing, heart-pounding drop to the finish. I had great energy left and didn’t waste the gravity. Yeeeehaaaa! Somewhere in my whooping enjoyment of that last descent, a small blur whizzed past me on my left, and I recognized Kaiza scooping me at the finish. Ha! Good on her, I was proud of her competitive spirit.
Sarah gave me my placement stick (82) along with a monogrammed 100 races in a row stick, and a hug. I hugged and high-fived a few more people too. Another young friend, Nikky, had come in first in the 4k distance for the very first time. She had been trying to place first all season, and we congratulated each other. Her grandma captured our proud moment.
At the hall afterwards we celebrated the race’s 30th anniversary, everyone’s impressive race standings, and my persistence in race participation. There were homemade soups, potluck dessert, and a special cake. Derek and Dianne, who encouraged me to start running these races 14 years ago, gave a nice speech, and I took a bow. At the annual series wrap up banquet the following month, I received a huge hand painted mug with 100 little stick racers painted around it. I love it.