Stage 4 of the ENDURrun Ultimate may seem like a bit of a let down after yesterday’s epic 30km trail race, but don’t be fooled. It is full of it’s own challenges. First of all, it’s a hilly course. Not hilly like the last race, but HILLY. Here’s the topographical map of the course. Horror Hill. It’s a doozy. The other thing about Stage 4 that makes it a bit difficult is the fact that it’s a night race, starting at 6pm.
It is said that the ENDURrun really doesn’t start until Stage 3. This is the stage that sets the men apart from the boys, so to speak. The stage where you can see the results of proper training, or the lack thereof. I have done the ENDURrun Ultimate 4 times, and yet this stage still makes me very nervous. It is the 30km Trail Race. This stage consists of six (yes six) 5km loops through Bechtel Park in Waterloo.
The clock strikes 5:30am and the alarm goes off. I groggily hit snooze for a few more minutes of rest, before getting up to start the kettle for coffee. Yes, this is Monday, but not just any Monday… it’s Stage 2 of the ENDURrun Ultimate! Today’s race is a 15km fairly flat road race, with a twist. It’s a time trial. This means that the runners start in reverse order, 1 minute apart.
After a great pre-race evening, getting to meet the other competitors and hearing about the races to come, it was time to get down to business with stage 1. The night before was spent preparing my belt pack, figuring out what clothes to wear, and getting things in order for tomorrow. My alarm went off at 5:30am, otherwise known as “stupid o’clock”. I hit snooze once, but then got up. The race started at 8am, and I like to be at the start around an hour before that.
This day has crept up, slowly, but steadily, all year. I’ve thought about it almost every day, and especially through all those stupidly cold and dark winter runs, and the boring treadmill tempos I did in the warehouse gym at work. At times I thought this day would never come. But come it has. It’s time, once again, for the ENDURrun. This year is the 6th time I’ve participated in the ENDURrun, and the 5th time doing the whole week, which is affectionately called “The Ultimate”.
This has been a tough month for training for me. Between the terrible weather (cold, snow, wind) and being involved in the kids’ activities, running has taken a back seat to life. My daughter is a trampolinist, and her gym, Scarborough Gym Elites Gymnastics Club, hosts one of the provincial qualifier meets every year, the 3rd weekend in February. For the last 3 years, I have been on the board of directors of the club, and to say I’m actively involved in this meet is an understatement.
This year was supposed to be different. My enthusiasm and excitement for running was higher than it had been for the last two years. I had plans; train for a spring 3:45 marathon, then maintain the fitness into the summer and run the ENDURRun. It was going to be glorious, and I couldn’t wait to get started. Then reality set in. I am now three weeks into my training schedule, and I’m barely getting in half the mileage I should be.
My final race of the year was the Boxing Day 10 Miler. This will be the 6th time I’ve run this race. It’s become a tradition with the group of runners I train with, the Flying Fartleks. For me, it’s also a way to burn off some of the turkey and chocolate and beer I’ve consumed over the previous two days. Personally, I love running this race. The distance is perfect; not too long, and not too short.
The human body is capable of amazing physical deeds. If we could just free ourselves from our perceived limitations and tap into our internal fire, the possibilities are endless. – Dean Karnazes Today’s stage is the 10km time trial. Unlike the rest of the ENDURrun stages, this one is very flat, and a net downhill race. It starts in the town of Elmira, and runs along country roads back to the race director’s house.
Running, much like life, has it’s hills and valleys. On any given run, and particularly in most marathons, we come across easy stretches and seemingly impossible challenges. I have learned to just keep going. The tough moments never last, and the easy stretches are always a joy. The same is clearly true in life, if we just keep going we’ll get to that finish line with water, massages, and bananas! – Will Starr, RW Challenger