Sunday, 11 September 2011

Walk In The Park Race Recap

   Last weekend I took part in the 21st running of the 54km Walk In The Park (WITP) ultra in Kamloops. Wow. 21 years running. That's impressive.  This was the second time I competed in this no-frills grass-roots race and once again Race Director Chris Larouche put on a good show.
Beautiful,sunny, Kamloops B.C.

   The entry fee is dirt cheap, there's no tacky cotton shirt to forever occupy the bottom recesses of your drawer, the volunteers are great and there's a bbq at the end.  Top that with a super fun 3 loop course on smooth rolling single track and you have the makings of an excellent short distance ultra.

   This is the race website description:

   "The course consists of double and single-track dirt trails cutting through sagebrush desert and Ponderosa Pine/Douglas Fir forest.  The trail is rarely flat as approx. 960m of climb and decent is required per lap. A pine bark beetle epidemic has taken a heavy toll on the mature standing Ponderosa Pine so shade cover now averages only an estimated 25% over the entire course. Temperatures on the September long weekend have, in the past, reached 30-35C so please come prepared. "
Great shot from high point on course. From WITP Facebook page.

   Luckily the 54km distance started at 7am so the temps hadn't begun to climb yet but by the time I finished it was HOT!  The runners in the 18k and 36k races started later in the day so they definitely got the worst of it. Luckily for everyone there was ample water on the course, at aid stations and from strategically placed self-serve jugs.
Refilling at the start/finish aid station
   Two years ago when I first ran the course it was overcast and not as warm so I had that to my advantage. Top that with coming off a pretty good rookie ultra season and I ran a pretty good race: I finished first and set a course record to boot. My time was 4:54 but my splits were sloppy and undisciplined - 1:36/1:38/1:45.  As was my style, I took off too quickly and dragged my tired ass around the final 18km loop.

   This year I approached the race with the goal of simply running even splits. I knew I was in good shape but had also raced a 100km race only two weeks before. As well, the Pine to Palm 100mile ultra was coming up in two weeks.  The latter carries more importance this season so I did not want to jeopardize my overall fitness going into it.  In other words I had to run conservatively.

   My strategy was to run at a certain HR for 1/2 to 3/4 and then open up a bit if I was feeling good.  I expected to complete the first loop in between 1:36 and 1:40.  Since there was not really any competition I was allowed to run easy and steady but at the 1/2 way aid station I got a bit of a scare when one of the vollies remarked that they were wondering where I was since they had expected me sooner. Hmmm. I couldn't remember how long it took to get to the finish from this point and knew the hardest, hilliest part of the loop was coming up so I experienced the inner struggle of self-doubt: debating if was running slower than I thought and whether or not I should pick up the pace. I decided to continue with my game plan (maybe I picked up my pace a wee bit;).  I finished the first lap in 1:32. Wow. Apparently my pace was pretty good after all.

   I ran the next loop at the same perceived effort and finished it in 1:36, still feeling fresh and strong. At this point I decided to ease into the final lap and then, after the initial hilly section, to hammer everything to the finish  except for the steepest hills.  I felt awesome ripping it up on the twisty, rolling single-track. When training for longer ultras, apart from shorter speed-work sessions, the majority of my miles are done at a slow, easy pace. To open it up for a longer duration was simply exhilarating and apart from the torturous hills at the end I ran strong to the end, finishing and winning the race with a new course record of 4:45 with a final split of 1:36. Needless to say I was totally satisfied with my disciplined pacing and overall performance.
I love downhill finishes!
Race Director Chris Larouche presenting me with a trophy
Check out the dirt tan...
Local trend: calf tats
Ultra Burger!

   Next up is the Pine to Palm 100miler in Southern Oregon on September 17th.


Derrick said...

THAT is a very fine looking burger!!

slowrunner said...

that burger looks amazing!

Sara said...

I'll take those onion rings, yum!!

Oh, awesome race, by the way too!! Congrats. Sounds like a fun event.

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