On Saturday I ran 50 miles for the second time while participating in the Fat Dog Ultra. Located in gorgeous Manning Park, BC, the race ran some luscious forest bottoms and beautiful ridges and mountain tops.
Race Report: The race was 50 miles with 3148.7 meters of elevation gain. The race start was a pretty funny experience, as it started right on a single track trail in which everyone had to line up according to what speed they intended on running. Given that we had 50 miles to go, no one pushed for the front and kept offering the front to other competitors.
The first 30km was pretty easy undulating terrain through the forest bottom. I ran a pretty decent pace, trying to keep the legs turning quickly. There was one out and back section in which we had to tear a page out a harlequin romance novel to prove we made the run around point. This made me giggle and was certainly a fun part of the race. In the small amount of training that I have done, I have gotten used to steep terrain, thus the constant quick pace for 30km was actually somewhat difficult on my legs.
I was pretty lucky to run for that first section of the race with two others- Adam and Nathalie. The conversations made the first three hours go by very quickly. Potentially we were TOO engaged stories and jokes, as we followed pink forestry flagging off the course! GAH! We ended up running about an extra 4km or so. That was a small setback; however, Adam was in good spirits and gave out high fives when we got back onto the trail- reminding me it was only a minor setback. I had to remind myself of this when others passed me whilst I was on my detour.
At the final drop bag station (km 48)- I grabbed my poles and started to the 1,300 meter climb up to Skyline ridge. I had anticipated on speed hiking this section in my pre-race planning. Leading into this section I was really looking forward to some steep sections. The poles were great to take pressure off of my legs and use some arm strength to help me up the mountain. It wasn’t as consistently steep as I had excepted; I wanted it to be steep, to just power hike through it as quickly as possible. Some of the easier terrain made the climb seem longer- due to the climbing, these sections were still somewhat hard to run, but felt silly walking through. Not sure how I would approach that section next time.
Another thing I did not foresee was the amount of sweating! I sweat a lot! And despite the need, I did not take care of my electrolyte replenishment. I didn’t use my drop bags going through the aid stations, thus forgetting my fizzy tabs. I could feel my body deteriorating as the salt was vanishing from my body. All I had in my pack were fruit cups, gummies, and gels- ick! I craved salt and my tummy got a little queasy, thus the sugary fuel was almost revolting. I had to force feed myself. Thank heavens for Grant & Darren at the Mowich aid station who had warm vegetable broth! I drank and drank and drank the warm broth they had made over a fire. I instantly felt better- which was good, because I still had 20km to go!
The ridge running gained several small peaks, which was pretty fun. I loved the climbing, but was starting to slow down on the descending. My knees felt a little shaky- my goodness I was glad I had poles.
Finally I made a 5km descent dropping back to the valley bottom near the end of the race. This was brutal at the end of a long day. My knees were really starting to bother me. Some of the terrain was tricky, but most of it was a pretty gentle downhill. I should’ve been able to blast down, but alas I could not. That 5km was a loooong and slow process as I used my poles to help me run down. The sun had already slipped behind the mountains and night was beginning to fall. I wanted so desperately to finish before dark.
Finally I hit the valley bottom and ran through the forest following glow sticks around the lake. Dusk was upon us, and below the forest canopy I could’ve used a head lamp, but I was only 2.5km to the finish line and I refused to stop. I kept my legs moving, and was elated to see a glowing arch across the lake marking the finish line surrounded my tents and christmas lights. I picked up my pace and started pressing on quickly, turning into a weak sprint across the finish line.
YAY! I did it! I came in at 11h47, beating the previous course record of 13h13. Much to my chagrin a few other women ahead of me also beat the record. Strong group of women as the course was the same.
If I’m going to run an ultra again- Im going to have to start training a bit more seriously! Then maybe I could race a bit better and get out of survival mode a bit more near the end:)
Regardless- I’ve done it- and now I’m a FAT DOG! woot woot!