Friday, May 17, 2013

Beachburg Spring Chicken 50k Race Report

Last weekend we had the unique experience of joining in on a mountain bike race in Beachburg, Ontario. This is an area known for white water rafting on the Ottawa River, and we had heard they have really nice trails as well. This was the first year the race was letting runners do the longer 25k and 50k events, though they have had a 5k and 10k before.

The day started off very chilly, with a light rain falling. It had been very hot the week before so it was interesting bundling back up for the start of this race. It turned out to be a perfect temperature for running, and I was able to peel off my shell after awhile and stick it in my UltrAspire Alpha pack. I needed that pack as the race had few aid stations, so I used the 2L bladder for my hydration/fueling. I chose to use Vitargo for my carbs as I have had increasing trouble with sugar in the past few years. It feels like it takes all of my energy away, instead of giving me energy, so the starch carbs have been a great find. My guess is that I can still use some gel, but maybe a bit later on in races, and not as much.

Anyway, we headed down a sand road for a few km to begin, and then hit the muddy single-track. It had rained hard the day before and through the night, so the going was slow but fun. The bikers were sliding all over the place and were very gracious in letting runners pass. There were many bikers but not many runners - just me and Derrick in the 50k plus a handful of others doing the 25k. I ran with a couple doing the 25k until we got to about 14k and we went our separate routes from there.

The 50k was treated to a stunning 19k loop through incredibly varied trails. It switched between double and single track, with many steep ups and downs, and some longer ridges to climb up to great views of the Ottawa River and beyond into the always-pretty hills of Quebec. The course also met up with the river in a few places, with the trail skirting along the flooded shores and water flowing rapidly by. Trilliums were out in full force everywhere on this course which was gorgeous. I also loved the canopies of tall pine trees with an under-forest of shorter deciduous trees sprouting contrasting vibrant green leaves.

I was alternating passing and being passed by a group of bikers through this section. It was much more efficient on foot for the single-track and hills with all the mud it seemed, and they were all very encouraging as I ran by them up the hills, and then they invariably would pass me again on more rideable stretches. I didn't use a GPS or know much about the course layout, so I was just following the very-well marked route and using my watch to guess how far I might be. The Vitargo was working well, but I was getting low as the loop wore on, and I hoped that we would have another aid station to refill. I hadn't stopped at the 14k aid station as that was only 90 minutes in. Thankfully we completed the loop at the same location, so the aid station was still there for us. I put more water in the bladder, guessing how much hydration I would need, but not wanting to dilute my calories too much or carry extra weight, so not putting too much in. They told me it was 15k to go from there (it was actually 17, but that's okay), and I took off with much renewed energy.

The rest of the course was less technical and had more sandy road with fewer hills, so I tried to get it done as quickly as possible. Of course all of the bikers zoomed off, no doubt with much relief to get out of the mud and away from the crazy lady running (they didn't realize that they were the crazy ones, ha ha). I enjoyed the rolling sand roads for a few km and then got back to the final trail section and started really wanting to be done. There was some winding single-track, a nice pond and a cool quarry to run by in this section and I enjoyed the distraction of the sights. Right at 5 hours I ran out of water/vitargo, which I wasn't too worried about except I knew I'd have to take gel with no water (not great), or bonk a bit (not great). I decided to compromise, so I waited until I started getting really cranky, and then took the gel.

The finish was nice because Derrick was there and I got to stop running.

First 14k was about 1:30 (6:25/km)
19k big loop was 2:21 (7:25/km)
Last 17k was 1:43 (6:03/km)
Finish Time 5:34:14. (6:41/km)

Derrick's MovesCount of the race, where I got my distances from post-race.

Too bad about the mud, because it would have been nice to run a faster time. My knobby tires (C-Lite 2.0) handled the slick mud pretty awesomely though. I was quite happy with my effort, and to be honest even if it wasn't actually a 'race' in terms of having more runners than just me and Derrick, I don't think I would/could have run it any differently.

Thanks to the BORCA club, Race director Cameron Dube, and all the volunteers for putting on a really fun event.

From the BORCA FB Page: