September 20, 2015

Grinding Glaciers in Revelstoke

Having slowly been working my way back from niggling injuries (which are still far from 100% gone) I decided less than two weeks ago to race Glacier Grind 44k in Revelstoke this past weekend (a 5 Peaks race).  It was the perfect balance of being close enough to home that I could commit to the race not too far in advance, and yet it was far enough away from home that I'd get to experience the fun of racing on new-to-me trails.  The 44k distance and amount of climbing (around 2400m, and same of descent) was great too as it made it a good challenge yet not anything too extreme.

Speaking at the race briefing the evening before the race, with Adam Campbell.  Photo: Amy Golumbia
The race profile was relatively straight forward - complete an undulating loop of a few kms to warm up before hauling yourself up some huge mountain ascent that seemed to grind on for a very long time, play around in the alpine and some rocky sections for a while whilst admiring some pretty lakes swirling in the mist, before bombing back down the mountain on one crazy fun long descent to the finish line.

Alpine lake along the course.  Photo: Amy Golumbia
A runner in the swirling mist.  Photo: Steve Shannon Photography
 As usual I showed my weakness is long uphills climbs and I hiked a huge portion of that, but I was relatively good at just putting my head down and getting to work.  Well, I didn't put my head down entirely as we'd been warned at the pre-race briefing that there were both black and grizzly bears active in the area so my eyes and ears were open, but the most I saw was some fresh berry-filled poop on the trail and some footprints in the mud.  But the bears were definitely around with one racer I talked to having been (un)lucky enough to see 3 separate bears during the race.

Runners grinding their way up to Eva Pass.  Photo: Steve Shannon Photography
 The biggest kudos has to go out to the volunteers at this race and the Revelstoke National Park staff - whether they were runners from further afield or Revy locals, many folks stood out in the cold and drizzly rain for many hours to ensure that we stayed on track, didn't get eaten by bears, but did get to eat the usual aid station food.  It was a grey fall day and although it was warm at the lower elevations, by the time we were up at the high point of Eva Pass, I was definitely pulling out my jacket to stay warm on the descent over rocky slabs and through lush moss and fungi filled forests.

Volunteer ensuring we all arrived safely atop Eva Pass.  Photo: Steve Shannon Photography
 My friend Liza from Canmore led the female charge on the uphill and it honestly didn't surprise me - Liza is a strong and competitive adventure racer, mountain biker and runner - and well, she's just more of a mountain lady than I am.  But Liza and our fellow friend Fitzy were within sight on the final portion of the climb up to Eva Pass so I was hopeful that I could catch them both on the descent.  Unfortunately before I caught Liza I also caught my toe in some mud and before I knew it I'd splatted down onto a rock and bruised my knee.  To be honest I was more annoyed that my gloves were now super muddy and wet rather than bothered by my knee, but with a bit of on-the-run thinking I took off my wet gloves and instead used my arm sleeves to keep my hands warm.

Typical Fitzy ... and volunteer unicorn.  Photo: Steve Shannon Photography
Surface scrapes from getting a little too familiar with the trail.
 The final descent through what can only be described as an enchanted forest was far too much fun - a nice grade to pick up the pace and yet enough technicality to slow you down.  All the better was that on the final few kms of descent I caught a total of three men to secure an overall 4th place finish and 1st female.  Liza was not far behind over the line as 2nd woman.

Enchanted forest.  Photo: Stephanie O'Brien
All in all a great course, amazing volunteers, awesome to catch up with so many Banff/ Canmore buddies, and lots of fun to be back racing again - albeit at a low key event and still with much progress to make in terms of working through aches and pains, and working back to full fitness.

Top 3 ladies.  Photo: Jan Herman
Rainy Revy recovery run the day after the race.
Valley running in Revy.  Photo: self.
Pretty ceramic medal :)

4 comments:

  1. It's awesome but 44km of that, I'd be dead! And I think to dress people as unicorns is unfair when my head would be that scrabled, I'd think it was real.

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  2. Pretty sure here in Wpg we can't say 2400m of climbing "is not too extreme!" Congrats again!

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  3. thanks for the report. this will be my first event of this nature, so your description helps a lot. Brent

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