I can't think of any other race that I have competed at 4 times, other than Run for the Toad in Paris, Ontario. There are races that I would love to do every year but with new races popping up or just something getting in the way, sometimes I don't make it to all the start lines that I would like to. But somehow every year for the past 4 I have made the 3h30min flight to Ontario for Run for the Toad. With about 1100 entrants in the 25km and another 200 o
r so in the 50km, it is a huge trail race and the organisation is exceptional. Every year RDs Peggy & Goerge come up with some other improvement to what already seems like an excellent race. I mean have you ever been to a trail race with a kids entertainment tent? Or one wi
th table decorations in the marquee for the post race meal? Or how about one with a bagpipe parade before the race? This year there were even toad shaped chocolates being handed out!
Montrail/ Mountain Hardwear are one of the main sponsors of the event so it is always fun to come and hang out at the booth at the expo to chat with fellow runners and to see the latest shoe and clothing line up for spring. And there is some pretty sweet running gear coming out!
Race day was surprisingly cool to start with. At least it wasn't raining but it had clouded over and the wind was picking up as the 0930am start approached. I knew I would overheat but I couldn't resist starting off in my Geist jacket and gloves, knowing that I could ditch them at one of the aid stations or back at the start/ finish area (as the race consists of 4 x 12.5km loops). And yep, by about 3km I was warming up and pulled off the layers. I had settled into a nice little group with Andy and Daryl and was surprised to see that it took just over one loop for the first 25km runners to pass us (they started 10mins later than the 50km). Taylor Murphy set out well in the lead and another guy had also went out ahead so our little pack were positions 3 through 5.
I know not everyone likes the idea of a course with 4 loops but I find it a great way to split up the race as in addition to each km being marked you can mentally check off each loop as you go by. Plus there are so many other great things about the Toad that even if the course it pleasant rather than spectacular, I just can't help keep coming back year after year.
After my vomiting incident at World 100km I was making extra care to pay attention to how my stomach was feeling. With the Toad 'only' being 50km and a pretty fast course at that, I decided I'd prefer to be a little under hydrated rather than over hydrated with a sensitive stomach. So I took on Clif drink one sip at a time along with the occasional gel or shot blok. It was great to come past the start/ finish each time and have Bruce of Montrail hand me a fresh bottle rather than bother with cups at the aid stations.
Having not really tapered for the race, I have to say that my legs felt a little tired the whole race but I managed to hold a steady pace and it was great to stil
l be in the company of Andy on loop 3, even if he was looking decidedly fresher than I was feeling! I was on pace to maybe catch my course record from 2010 (3:37:33) and as I went into my 4th and final loop a volunteer gave me the extra push I needed by yelling at me that I still might catch my course record. Ok, 12.5km to go - I could dig deep for that long even on heavy legs and off I went, pulling ahead of Andy. It still didn't feel like I was running particularly fast (although the course was drier and in much better shape than muddy 2010!) but I was finally feeling a little more like I was in race mode.
With the final short steep hill done and only about 1.5km to go, I pushed hard and knew I would be cutting it fine to catch my record, so was motivated to stay ahead of Andy as much as anything else! 3:38:01 - 28 seconds slower than last year on what in theory should have been a faster course. But who's complaining - 1st female, 2nd overall and a great social running weekend. Big congrats to Taylor Murphy (3:25:57) and Laurie McGrath (4:28:17) - 2011 Canadian 50km Champions
Top: Kristin & Ryne, happy post race!
Below: With Glen Redpath - 4th overall, 3rd male, 2nd Canadian, 1st in age group!
For a neat video clip that gives you more of an idea of what a wonderful event Peggy & George host, check out this link.