|Andy and me after 50K|
The race weekend started with a prerace dinner with friends Joe and Karon Huising. We ate plenty and over dinner we discussed my game plan for the ultra the next morning. The Blackfoot Ultra attracted a very fast field this year given the fact that it was designated the 100K National Trail Championships for 2014. A couple of the top runners Oleg Tabelev and Andy Reed had raced hard only two weeks prior. Knowing that it takes me longer than two weeks to completely recover, I thought my best strategy was to push the pace early in hopes they would follow and eventually wear out. This was a risky plan knowing I could bury myself instead.
|John Hubbard, Joe Huising, me and Oleg Tabelev|
|New Balance 1400's|
|Me and Philippe Legace|
For the third time that day I ran through the damn equestrian section of the course, once again putting more torque on the ankle. The mood started slipping yet again until I heard a familiar "Whoop whoop!" behind me. My buddy John Hubbard, who was
running the 50K, had caught up with me. He mentioned he was already suffering and we should run together…done! John and I ran the remaining third loop together and I have to admit, finishing 75K with 25K left to go I felt pretty bloody good.
I learnt I had a solid 12 minute lead over Andy and knew a solid first half of the fourth loop would solidify the win. The fourth loop was different than all other loops since all 100K, 50M, 50K and 25K runners were now out on the course. Running with all the other runners was uplifting. Ultra runners are cool people and everyone was so positive. John and I ran the
|Me and Any Reed|
|Me and Gary Poliquin|
Blackfoot hills (which I swear get taller every lap) and put out a solid 14K when I saw my friend and killer ultra runner Joe Huising on the course. He told me if I pick up the pace a huge course record could be set and I could squeeze under 8:30. The CR was 8:49 set by Richard Webb in 2007. I picked up the pace and felt good doing so but as I started really striding out my hamstrings started cramping. I took some salt tabs, started to run faster again and the cramps crept back. I decided at this point to hold back the speed and with now only 6K left coast into the finish for the win.
With a mile left to go, my friend Oleg Tabelev met me on the trail and ran me into the finish. Unfortunately Oleg dropped out earlier after 50K due to hip issues. I'm proud to say we've become very good friends in the past year and it was great running the remaining bit with him.
I finished at 8:38, ecstatic I whooped, raised my arms and most importantly kissed Sharon. I am the 2014 National 100K Trail Champion and proud owner of my first course record! I raced in the New Balance 1400's road racing flat, not a trail shoe but 5.3 oz of true running bliss.
|After race beverages with friends|
Upon completion I devoured two Dilly Bars, iced my ankle, drank a cold coke, sat down and reached for a beer when I heard "The second place finisher is coming." I turn around to see this guy I didn't know come barreling down the chute finishing in 8:51 to claim second place. Confusion set in, this is not Andy Reed, not Vincent Bouchard, not Rene Castel. It was Philippe Legace and this was his first ultra! Standing there in amazement (and yes a bit of fear), myself, Joe Huising, Oleg Tabelev, Wayne Gaudet and John Hubbard all taking note of this new threat in the Canadian ultra scene. Andy finished only 9 minutes back of Philippe in third place in 9:00 hours which would have won any other year.
The rest of the day was a fun filled, fruit beer drinking day hanging with friends under the New Balance tent. Half lit, watching runners finishing one by one is good for the soul. Many thanks to Gary Poliquin for once again putting on such an amazing event. With all the hype surrounding some ultras I believe the Blackfoot Ultra is the best kept secret in the Canadian ultra scene.