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[Race Report] Frosty 50k, 2015

Before

I’ve been trail running since March of this year and have completed several “mountain” 25km runs but had never done a 50km. I had made it a goal this year to run a 50 but wasn’t really sure which race to do. It was while I was on a training run in Manning park that I had learned about the Frosty Mountain 50k. At first I was a little apprehensive about the elevation gain but after looking at the other 50k options in Western Canada, it seemdd about on par. I ramped up my training times and distance in addition to joining a trail running clinic to get advice on making the jump from 25k to 50. In addition to the races I worked up to a long runs of around 5 hours. I also pre-ran both halves of the course on two sepeprate weekends so I would know what to expect

Race day

I slept really well considering the nervousness I had felt all week. The temperature outside was perfect, 10C (10F) at 7am and no signs of rain. Perfect. I’m know to be an over-packer (over-prepared?) so I proceeded to go through my running pack and move some of the “in-case” items  to the drop bag. I kept the hiking poles in my pack and filled up my water and was out the door.

We drove the 2km from Manning Park lodge to the start and I went through my gear once more.  While I’m not one for peer pressure, I had a look around to see how other people were geared up. I was glad to see most people wearing shorts, compression socks and long sleeve shirts, since that was my choice for the day. I didn’t see anyone with hiking poles so I threw those into my drop bag (which I kind of regret since they don’t eight a lot and are great for the alpine).  Looking around I had the biggest pack by far. I was actually surprised at how little some people had but I guess if you know the course and are confident in your training an aid stations, you can get away with that. Being my first 50k, & going into the alpine in late September, I wanted to have a little extra food and clothing just in case.  This being my first, I brought a lot of “just in-cases” but still don’t feel like I over-packed. I had run with that load on my self-supported runs and was happy with my choices.

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Starting Off

We lined up, and at the count of 3 were off and running. Since it was my first 50, I took it very slow and found my spot near the back of the pack. One thing everyone had said about the race was to not overdo the beginning since the elevation gain was so significant. I found a couple of people to chat with and settled in at around a 6min/k pace which was probably faster than I would have run solo. The first 2.5k was pretty flat so everyone just cruised along. But at the first hill the group broke up quite a bit and spread out. I found my temp and just plugged along and the Suunto showed a 6:15 finish time (I was shooting for 7-8hrs). The first section of the trail follows the final stretch of the PCT (Pacific Crest trail) and we saw quite a few backpackers coming down. I wondered to myself if any of them were in their final hour of a 2 month (or longer hike) from the southern US. That an entirely different endurance challenge in it’s own right.

14km – Breaking above the tree line

At 7km we hit the first aid station, a hike-in one that was fairly simple. I haven’t really figured out what to do at these stations so I just kind of stare at the selections and if my body craves anything I go for it.( In hindsight I should have more of a plan but I’ll get to that later) It was still early in the race and I had my own food so I had a couple of pretzel sticks and kept going. I was feeling great, and the trail levelled out and rolled through a mixed forest full of fall colours. As the trail gained elevation, the pack dispersed and I was running without anyone ahead or behind me for quite some distance. This is the part I enjoy about trail running the most. You can bask in solitude and the sounds of your breathing/steps but you do feel like you aren’t all alone if something goes awry. As the trail gained altitude it broke above tree line and became a rocky exposed slope. I had never run this side of Frosty before (our training run was an out and back on the Lightning Lake side) so I was actually quite surprised at how technical the trail got near the top. By now the  racers in front were visible again and at a walking pace clambering up the rocks to the summit. Mt Frosty was shrouded in mist and there was a cool wind coming down from the top. This is not a place I would want to be caught in during bad weather, so I was glad I had brought extra clothing (even if I didn’t need to use it). At the high point of the race, people were posing for photos in front of the signpost, so I snapped a quick photo and was on my way back down.

Nearing the course high point: 2310m / 7600 ft
Nearing the course high point: 2310m / 7600 ft

Km 17-27 Back to reality, Oh, there goes gravity.
At this point I mentioned to another racer (who had run in previous years) that I was glad the hard climb was over. His response was despite Skyline being 400m less elevation gain, its the harder of the two because it just keeps going and going. In my training runs I had run Skyline (on fresh legs) so I kind of dismissed this as his personal opinion, but in hindsight it was ominus foreshadowing (more later). He was having IT band issues so I thanked him for the tips and was on my way. After about 300m of rocks, it was back on the dirt trail and I picked up the pace on the rolling decent. The rolling trail through the subalpine made for a really great running. This was singletrack at its finest.. The smells, the colors, the downhill, it all jived. My watch said 19km and I felt like I could run another 100. The km flew by and before I knew it, I was at the 30km aid station. I did the usual “stare at the choices, grab some of this n that” (pretzels and coke this time) and was on my way. I picked up the pace but after a few close calls with some roots (catching myself just in time to prevent a faceplant), I decided to slow it down a bit. On the way down, there were a few openings in the tress and I glanced over at the Skyline ridge across the valley. “See you in an a couple hours” I thought to myself. After 3:45 I popped out at the 27km aid station which is bascially at the start/finish line of the race. Out of the wilderness and back into reality. The volunteer were super shipper and my girlfriend was there with my drop bag all ready to go in addition to a turkey/bacon/brie sandwich. “So what have you been up to the past 4 hours?” I asked her. I was in great spirits and actually took some time to chat while I ate and got organized for the 2nd half. The last thing I wanted to do was rush through everything and do something dumb like forget my food. I topped up my water, mixed my electrolyte mix, grabbed my second food supply from the drop bag and ditched the running tights I had carried to the top and back. A peck on the cheek and I was off again, at the 3:49 mark.

Published in All Life