Last Friday I was out for a pre-comp jog and strides around the course for the Canadian XC Championships. It hadn’t rained in over a week and Vancouver had had a relatively dry fall. This meant that in the lead up to this year’s race the course was in the best shape I’d ever seen it.
Wow… What 24 hours can do.
Fast forward 24 hours and about 30mm of rain later and you wouldn’t believe it was the same course. The lower grass field alongside English Bay was flooded with an inch or two of standing water and the back part of the course, the muddy section, was well, muddy, Very Muddy. This was exactly how I wanted it. Some runners may be a little shy of the mud and worry about how it may affect their race. But me, having grown up in North Vancouver I’m used to a little less than optimal conditions. What’s a little mud? When it started raining on Friday I didn’t cringe… I got excited!
By the time the senior men got their chance the course had already seen 5 races. The Masters race, both Junior races as well as the senior women’s race and a community run. The course was a mess. I was pumped.
The first couple hundred meters of the race went quick. Guys wanted to establish their position early and not get buried before the course narrowed in the back section. I got out relatively well but still found myself in the back of the front pack, in about 8th or 9th. Luc Bruchet , Kelly Wiebe and a few others got out well and were leading the race through the first Km. It took about a mile before the font pack started to spread out and this was do, in large part, to Luc who kept pushing hard. By 3km the course was already taking its toll and Wiebe had to exit the race early due to a foot injury. At 3km the race was between Luc, Aaron Hendricks and myself. Luc had opened up about a 6 sec gap on Aaron and I and it was at this point that we went to work to try and close it up. I gambled that Luc may have gone too hard and that if I were to close the gap on him that I’d have a chance to run away with it. The plan looked like it were about to work as I caught Luc and made a go at dropping him. No luck. The guy is super fit and tough as nails. He wouldn’t let me get an inch on him and for the next couple of kilometers I would try and surge to drop him and he’d continue to hang on. With about a mile to go Luc went past and Hendrix followed. Falling back I found myself in a dark place. However, a few hundred meters later I was able to collect myself and dig in again. By 1km to go I felt that I had my legs back and I tried with everything I had to close the gap on Luc. No luck. Luc pulled away with the win and I held on over Hendrix.
Despite not getting the “W” on the day I was pretty pumped with the result. It was my best placing ever at National Cross and the three of us, as well as everyone else that ran, put on a pretty awesome show in the mud. The pictures that have come out this week do a great job of telling the story.
That night was the post-race festivities were as awesome as the race itself. There is nothing I love more than getting the fittest guys and gals in the country together for a few beers and some late night dancing. This year we all headed down to Ceili’s Irish Pub (Which in actual fact is not so Irish) in downtown Vancouver which, was a big step up from last year’s event at the Caprice Night Club (where the probably of getting stabbed was near 100%) and I think most everyone came out for some part of the evening. Honestly, I think Ill be 65 years old and still coming out to these events. They are just too much fun to miss!
Here are a few pics from the events…