I can't believe I almost forgot this, to top off the epic two mountain summit run on Friday, Nicole and I also joined about 32 or so other training camp participants for a 5km plus or minus night run of the start of Leg 5. This was one of Nicole's legs and how could we pass up the opportunity to run in the dark on the all important last leg of the race. Even with my slightly rubbery legs, I was not going to miss it, because I was bound and determined to see as much of the course as possible over the three days even if it killed me (and that was a distinct possibility, it is called the Death Race don't you know).
The funny thing about this night run, was at the orientation prior to us starting camp, Dale asked everybody in the room, who was going to partake in this little night time adventure, and about 40 hands went up. At the time Dale chuckled at this, and quickly noted that he expected that by the end of the afternoon that would easily be cut in half. Well Dale, you were not quite right, and I think we surprised him with the amount that did show up. Can we say this camp crew was hardcore, why yes, yes we can.
So at 10:30 pm as the sun was starting to go down we all met at the Hotel entrance to see what Dale and the rest of the team had in store for us. With a little more 'magic' to be performed by the organizers, we shuttled everybody to the end of the 5km run and piled into a vastly smaller quantity of vehicles and headed to the starting point of Leg 5 at the Sulpher Gates Station where we would enter the heavy tree canopy portion of the leg. So as Dale explained what would take place and how important it was if you were running Leg 5 to see what the conditions of running this portion in the dark would be like first hand. The first portion of Leg 5 you enter the 'Canopy', it gets dark quick and the trail is full of tree roots, so keeping a diligent eye and having a very good head lamp is important, or you will be not on your feet to long.
Map of Leg 5
Dale gave us quite overview of what we were to expect on the trail, from the cat's eye reflectors on the trees to mark the trail (these were neat to see, like a airport landing strip at night), to the tree roots and quick turns, he explained you needed to be aware of your surroundings at all times. He split us up into groups of 4 or 5 runners and sent us on our way, with his catch phrase bellowing, "I Love This Shit!!". Put a smile on my face as we entered the tree line and the pitch black conditions.
I will say, after finishing Leg 2 today and the chore of Leg 4 the next day, I decided to wear my Vibrams for this 5km and I was glad I did. Nicole and I were testing out new headlamps and mine just sucked, it would not stay in position and the light just bounced everywhere. So as you can imagine I would be running along not really seeing where I was going and damn it, I would either land on a tree root or kick one on the leg lift. I just plain could not see the ground properly because of it and I had to slow my pace down just to ensure I was staying on the trail. I really do not like being at the mercy of a light, but I would have to make do I guess. So along the 5 km I ended up going off trail 5 times, almost missed a turn and went off the side of the trail and down an incline (scared the crap out of me), kicked a dozen or so nasty tree roots and stepped on too many to count. That little bit of protection saved me some pretty good gashes and 2 very sore feet for sure.
With me trying to make sure I didn't die on the trail, Nicole flew ahead and finished way ahead of me (I blame it on the downhills, because Nicole really likes the downhills), I could hear her whooping and hollering through the trees having the time of her life. I knew this was going to be the perfect leg for her, plus she really wanted to do the river crossing on the boat, so how could I deny her that pleasure. I believe I finished about 5 minutes behind her, and was just glad to be back in a area that I could see. But seriously I do like to run at night, because it adds an element of difficulty and a whole new aspect to the challenge of running. But having the correct gear to assist you is very important, and testing out a new light on a trail you don't know is not a good idea. Lesson Learned.
After 'I' finally finished, Nicole and I headed back to the hotel for the night to prepare for the next day and the 'Mountain Bike Ride From Hell' and the 'Rise To The Summit of Hamel'
To be Con't.
But first some more photos from Leg 2:
Somewhere heading up Flood Mountain
One of the many mountain streams that are scattered across the course
A look to the south (at least I think its South, I'm not an orienteer or anything you know) from the trail. Can you see the bee that I caught flying in front of the lens.......
Carolin making her way up Mount Flood showing good climbing technique with the poles
Another view from the trail, don't know what mountain it is but thought it was pretty neat that the clouds were touching the top
The feet were mighty happy to running this terrain. 'Sole'ful bliss I would say.
Round, round we go up the mountain
Enter 'Slugfest' This is looking up at the trail we just came down. This is me kneeling and pointing the camera up the trail, i was trying to show the butt sliding slope of the down. You might even be able to see the grooves of many a previous ass cheek that has slide down this hill
On the floor of Slugfest looking towards Grande Mountain. The muddy trail in the photo is some of the driest down in the valley
The whole trail is full of spectacular views
A view of Grande Cache from Grande Mountain
A storm is a brewing' time to start heading down the mountain
Not even half way down the power line, what fun this descent was
The Smokey River below
Some of my favorite types of trail, dirt that squishes between the toes, ahhh nice soft dirt with the occasional 'proper running form' checking type rock.
All done with all things considered a mild case of mud and dirt coverage
Our Relay Partner Dan coming in after finishing Leg 2. This is his leg
Dale Tuck, our fearless leader bringing in the last runner to the finish
Nicole and Dan looking quite happy for Leg 2 to be finished. Relaxing in the grass