On Saturday, May 26, I ran the Sulphur Springs 50 Miler in Ancaster, Ontario. Organized by the Burlington Runners Club, and directed by Joe Hewitt, the race weekend featured a number of running events (10 km to 100 miles) with over a thousand competitors.
The short version of my race report is that I started off strong, blew up after 50K and then crawled to a fourth-place finish in 7:17. I did beat the course record, but so did three other stronger runners.
Here is a slightly longer version for my mom and any other interested parties.
For much of the first 50K, I ran in a small pack of runners that included Corey Smith (2nd), Michael Fallaise (5th) and Glen Redpath, who finished first in the 100 miler with a new course record. Adam Hill, the 50M winner, was ahead of us the whole race, so we only ever saw him at the start/finish turnarounds on the 20K loop. As I rarely get to run with others, it was nice to chat and have some company on the trails. However, this meant that I didn’t run at my own pace, so I went a bit harder on the hills than I should have and paid the price later.
Despite having one of the smartest coaches on the planet, I didn’t follow his pacing instructions and suffered accordingly. That being said, I did have fun running with this lead pack, so it was a worthwhile experience and a great learning opportunity.
On Saturday I ran the Pick Your Poison 50K, which was the first race in the Ontario Ultra Series. Held at the Heights of Horseshoe Ski & Country Club, the race featured some challenging ski hills, picturesque single track and fast country side roads. Adam Hill, the race director, and his team of volunteers did a fantastic job at organizing the event, including ensuring that the course was well marked. Racers each received a T-shirt with the race logo and a jar of delicious honey produced in Orillia. All finishers received a pair of socks emblazoned with the race logo.
While I certainly looked forward to PYP, this wasn’t a focus race for me. So, I didn’t taper or rest before the event, but went into the race with tired legs. According to my coach, the race would provide a good opportunity to practice race nutrition and execution in a supported event. It would also be useful to see all is on track and gain confidence with a strong performance without any significant race preparation/taper. Basically, I ran over 60K in the four days preceeding the race, including a strong quality workout on Wednesday, so not a typical pre-race schedule. As the race consisted of four 12.5K loops, the plan was for me to run comfortable and relaxed for the first 25K, focusing on fueling and hydration. Then, for the third loop, I would pick up the pace a bit before running at a faster race pace for the final loop.
The good news is that I didn’t get caught up with the typical fast start, which meant that I got to pass a number of people over the next 30 minutes. While I’m pleased that I kept to an easy pace, I probably ran a bit slower than I should have. My Suunto watch indicated that I was running much faster than I was supposed to be going, so I kept pulling back on the pace. It turns out that my foot pod had gone all wacky due to low batteries, which became more obvious on my third loop when it suggested that I was running two-minute kilometres. (At the end of the race, my watch indicated that I had run 64.20K, which is an extra 14K than the actual course.) This was a good learning experience to not rely too much on technology.