My alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 4am. I groped blindly in the dark for it, then hit snooze. A few more minutes. I need just a few more minutes of rest, or sleep, or something. A delay, anything would do. Unfortunately, I needed to get up, have breakfast, and get out to the start line by 5:30am. The last stage of the ENDURrun, the marathon, officially starts at 7:30am.
This stage has never been my favourite. It’s another time trial, where the slowest runners get to start first, and each runner starts 1 minute apart. This time around it’s a 10km road run, with a net downhill, and fairly flat. Sounds easy, right? Especially after all we’ve run throughout the week. On paper, yes, it’s the easiest run of the week. Certainly the shortest, and the least hilly. But coming off running the Alpine run, having to push a bit harder on this stage is difficult.
Today’s stage is likely the most intimidating stage of all of them. It’s the one that everyone dreads, that we whisper and look at each other with wide eyes, full of worry. Chicopee. Multiple loops. Ski hill. Up and down. For those that don’t know, this stage involves 5 loops through a trail setting. What you may not know, is that it takes place at Chicopee Ski Centre. As part of each loop, we must climb up no less than 2 ski hills (one of them being the summit) and then run down them, with some very technical single track trails and boardwalk sections in between.
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”.