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Sufferfest Weekend

It’s Kootenay Sufferfest weekend. Chuck is away but the girls and I got involved in volunteering the first day. Fiona and Sophie volunteered as marshalling assistants. Fiona was marshalling up-mountain at the halfway First Aid and Marshalling station. She and I sat right at the snow line with slush falling for 7 hours. Plus it took us almost an hour each way to drive the logging roads to get there. So a very long day. But she was awesome: she saved the day a couple of times when the adults had got too distracted by communications issues to note a bib number on a racer.

The experience played right into her wilderness skills homeschooling project what with the various pre-race first aid and marshalling planning meetings, the communications relaying (we’re way out of cellphone range, and sat-phones were unreliable in places because of terrain) and keeping an eye on runners and riders for signs of hypothermia, and watching and helping them avoid succumbing to the elements. We had a market tent, which helped keep us from getting soaked the skin, and also took our Biolite stove and made hot chocolate for runners and volunteers alike. I was working first-aid, and thankfully there was nothing more than minor stuff; a few of the bikers who looked in danger of getting hypothermic during the first loop judiciously dropped out of the race before attempting the second pass, and none of the die-hards got into difficulty. Not that there weren’t some serious worries by the organizers. It was so cold, and there was a lot of snow up high. The Idaho Peak Run came off just fine: 14 runners finished. But the early snow made for a lot more challenge and hazard than had been expected. I’m glad this hadn’t turned out to be the year for me to attempt that run.

Sophie helped marshal the first and last runner aid stations. She and her marshalling buddy were on foot, carrying water and food since there was no road access. The race director and I had used backpacks and bike trailers to haul in some of the gear the day before, but they still had to carry some. They also had almost no radio or satellite phone contact, so were very isolated. They had a really long day. Sophie had left home by 7 am, and hadn’t surfaced again by 4 pm. I made a thermos of hot mochas, and took to the trail to run out and meet them. I met them at the halfway point of their hike out. I was very glad to see them still upright and coherent!

Me (#493) and some of my running buddies, keeping warm in the rain and mud pre-race.

Today I went over to Kaslo and ran the 10k Sufferfest trail race. I did surprisingly well: I got 1st place in my age-group (40th place overall). It wasn’t a big race — under 200 participants — but I was really pleased by how strong I felt. I haven’t run much the past few months, but I have done a bit of strength training, which is new for me.

I haven’t run a race shorter than a half-marathon in more than 3 years and I really enjoyed the shorter distance. It was rainy, mucky and slippery, with lots of little steep hills, so the times weren’t that fast, but I got in in under an hour. The push up the hill for the finish left me feeling spent, but within ten minutes felt pretty much fully recovered and felt like I could have run a lot farther. Maybe next year I’ll go back to running the 25k. Or maybe not. At this point I find that a 10k doesn’t really require any training more than my haphazard recreational running, and that’s nice.



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