Thursday, August 25, 2016

Quebec City Marathon? What Have I Done Wrong?

I live in Creemore.  There are more trails than you can shake a stick at.  There are no flat roads.  Anywhere.  Most towns have 4 directions; Creemore has only two.  Up or down.  People come to Creemore to train for mountain trail races.  Some also come to train for Badwater, Barkleys and the Antarctic marathon, but I really don't want to talk about those people, thank you.

Quebec City Marathon:  Sunday August 28, 2016

It has been 10 years since I ran a marathon.  I figure that with good behaviour, Lee Anne won't punish me by forcing me to run on a flat, straight paved road, for 42.195 kilometers.  I was wrong.  I don't recall doing anything that could be misconstrued as a punishable offence.  I think?  Now I'm questioning my angelic disposition...

And don't get me wrong, I do run roads.  I enjoy running with Lee Anne and if she is running, it is on a road.  I just prefer gravel roads or the shoulder, if the road is paved.  With lots of hills.  The Quebec marathon is supposed to be on "rolling hills", but you aren't fooling me.  It's like the Around the Bay race.  I was told there were rollers and a big hill at the end.  The course was virtually dead flat until the finish line.  Someone LIED to me!  Of course most people don't share my definition of a hill, but most people are wrong!  A hill has to have significant pitch and gain altitude.  I question anyone who considers something a hill if there are no airline jets flying below the summit.

Even running on pavement is not so bad.  My knees can take up to 154 meters of pavement before they start to complain.  But 42K?  Why do you think we invented trails?  I just hope they have gravel shoulders or grass along the route.

Another sticking point is that I did my last marathon before losing considerable speed.  Oh, and knee surgery.  I think the two are related.  The last marathon for which I could find results was the Massey marathon, in 2005.  I ran it in 3:31, which is close to the slowest marathon I have ever run.  I vaguely recall a 3:36 at some point.  Guess what will happen this weekend in the Quebec marathon?  I will be lucky to break 4:36.  Isn't it a crime to run more than an hour slower than your worst time?  Do I have to worry about the RD at the finish line, consulting sheets of statistics and tapping the arm of a Canadian Armed Forces sniper, pointing at me and ruthlessly shouting "Tirez ce Batard"?

However, I am looking forward to the trip to Quebec.  It has been years since I last visited the town of my ancestors.  I am 13th generation Canadian.  Pierre Marcoux (no, really!) built 2 houses in Beauport, which is now a suburb of Quebec City.  The first house was completed in 1681.  That is about 100 years before "Old Quebec" was built.  The funny thing was that a Marcoux lived in that first house from 1681 until about 1980, when it was sold to someone whose last name is not Marcoux.  I would buy it back, but the house is too damn old...  The second house is now a museum.  One weird fact was that I attended a family reunion at the property in about 2005, which was about 350 years since Pierre Marcoux first landed in Canada.  The reunion was on June 17, which happens to be my birthday.  People were a little taken aback when I mentioned my name was Pierre Marcoux and it was my birthday.  The more gracious people figured the misunderstanding was due to my lack of French...

Lee Anne is also running the marathon and graciously offered to run with me.  I declined.  No, that can't be the reason she is forcing me to run a marathon, because I declined to run with her after I agreed to run the marathon.  I think.  It's just that 42K of pavement will hurt me, while Lee Anne considers the first 40 or 50 kilometers of a run to be the warm-up.  She runs 45 - 50K every Friday and 35 - 40K every Saturday.  The rest of the week are "short" 15 - 20K runs.  I don't think I want to hear her chatting away while I am dying...  My daughter Celeste is also coming to Quebec and will run the 10K.

Well, expect the race report to be all about the great food and wonderful ambiance of La Vieux Quebec and little on the race itself, unless I finish...  After that, we are volunteering at Haliburton Forest Trail Run.  If you are in the 50 or 100 mile race, we will see you at the turn-around aid station, at 40K (25 miles).  This year, I'm not running 50 miles before attempting to vollie all night.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Creemore Vertical Photos... and more

The 2016 Creemore Vertical Challenge has all but wrapped up - just waiting for the last invoices to finalize the accounting.  The profit is directed to 3 groups.  1, it allows me to comp (complimentary entry) up to 5 people, for various reasons.  2.  About 10% is discretionary.  I used this year's allocation to help Noa Bridson's Fundraising.  As a note, Noa was one of the runners comp'd into the CVC 50K.  The third item, as it has been for quite a few years, is a donation to the Canadian ultra teams.  These athletes spend an incredible amount of their time training, in order to represent Canada on the World ultra stage.  They receive little support from the government.  The donation, paid for by runners in the Creemore Vertical Challenge, allows the team to hold a team dinner, or purchase much needed supplies or equipment.  This year, the total will be a bit over $1,000.  For this, I thank all those who signed up for the CVC!

Finally!  It took me 4 days to figure out how to download pictures to Flickr:

Creemore Vertical Challenge Pictures

Also, Jeff Rowthorn of Get Out There magazine, made this cool video of the race.  Yes, the drone had a freakin laser on its head!

CVC Race Video

And to round out the links, results on Enfield Timing:

CVC Results

Now, I get almost 2 months off (with good behavior)...


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Creemore Vertical Challenge: Race Report

Well, the 10th Creemore Vertical Challenge is now in the books and based on dialogue with the runners I would guess that most enjoyed the race.  Is the course tougher?  Yes.  Regulars at the race described in detail how the new hill, the "Pitch" was a rude awakening, coming within the first 5K of the course.  Oh, by the way, it starts with a "P", not a "B"...

Even the weather cooperated, with cool temperatures in the morning.  I noted 16C on top of the escarpment at 6:30 AM, shortly after the 75K start.  The weather was not ideal, as the thermometer crept up to 28C by the middle of the afternoon, but far better than the 32C I experienced the day before, while slamming a tooling bar into the rock hard ground while attempting to install the signs!

There were a few glitches, but I expect that most of the runners did not notice them.  One that the 50K and 75K noticed was actually in their favour.  Perhaps the volunteer felt it was too much to ask the ultra runners to climb the Pitch 2 or 3 times, but the 50K and 75K runners missed the Pitch on their first loop.  No such luck on the subsequent loops and up the Pitch they went!

I hope that I echo the thoughts of the award and spot prize winners, but Lee Anne's pottery has improved dramatically this year.  New glazes and more time spent at the wheel has elevated her craft to the point where the mugs and bowls are almost works of art.  I mention this because the other prize component is maple syrup, which is appreciated by the winners, but I see the pottery as a tangible attraction for the podium runners.  Many thanks dear!

The Creemore Vertical Challenge has never been a 2 person show.  Yes, Lee Anne spends 200 - 300 hours as her contribution, which includes pottery, food purchases and taking care of the volunteers.  I spend an inordinate amount of time making the finishing medals, maple syrup and clearing trails.  Recently, I have questioned the sanity of a race director (in itself almost a full time job) who doesn't farm out the prizes, medals and the "hard" work.  I spent part of 2 months clearing trails after the ice storm.  I'm an idiot!

But it is the volunteers that allow the race to proceed.  The 34 people who sat for hours at marshal stations, fed, watered and gave encouragement to the runners and kept the race running (wow! what a great pun!) are the true heroes.  They receive many "thanks" from the runners, but they seldom are in the race spotlight, gaining well deserved praise.  Many thanks to all of you, for your efforts!

I would like to mention a few items that happened at the 2016 CVC, that many people probably are not aware.  If you read my 2016 Kingston RR, I mentioned that I helped to guide a good friend Elizabeth Hurdman.  Liz is 95% blind and I was very nervous about helping someone with so little sight,  navigate the Kingston course.  Although mostly paved, it had turns, bumps and gravel sections.  But Liz has a wonderfully optimistic outlook and loves to run.  The result?  We had a gas and running on a mostly paved surface was not a problem.  Liz signed up for the Creemore 25K.  Hello?  Another good friend Sharon Zelinski would be the guide.  Sharon has been experiencing foot problems, possibly Plantar Fasciitis for over a year.  She is having trouble running more than 12K.  I know, you're thinking "what could possibly go wrong"?  Nothing did go wrong and Liz completed the CVC 25K race in a respectable time of 4:18.  So, those of you who ran the course and considered it (as I do) a very tough challenge, imagine doing so with virtually no vision!

Another good friend and neighbor Peter Taylor is an experienced ultra runner.  This would be Peter's first attempt at the CVC, as Peter has almost always had a destination race when the Creemore race was on.  Sinister Seven, Fat Dog, Canadian Death Race...  This year, Peter was finally able to run Creemore.  Result?  DQ (disqualification).  I think the problem was that Peter 'knows' the area too well.  While in 4th place in the 50K, Peter took a wrong turn and ran for almost 5K before realizing he was not going in the proper direction.  He was on the course, but running it in the reverse direction.  I feel for Peter.  I know we have all gone off course, but it still sucks.  Mind you, I can't wait to chat with Peter and mention that yeah, he has done well at Sinister Seven and Fat dog, but how did he fare at a really tough race, such as Creemore?  Can't wait!

My boss Csaba Melnyak and my son-in-law Daryl Klein walked the 25K course.  In fact, they walked 29K, as they went off course for a few kilometers.  Csaba (pronounced Chuba) used to walk 100K in about 24 hour, back in Hungary and missed doing so.  I suggested he walk to Creemore course.  I believe they had fun and also found it a challenge.

Agnes and Saj Moktan are friends who share our passion for running.  During a training run of the CVC course a few weeks back, they casually mentioned that they would like to bring samosa to the race.  Then they mentioned they would bring 300 samosa!  Seriously?  I had a couple at the Seaton Soaker race and they were delectable.  I offered to pay (well, the race would pay) but they politely declined.  So, if you are one of the 200+ people that enjoyed a samosa, please thank the Moktans!  They also offered up the services of their family and friends, a total of 4 volunteers.  Many thanks to the entire Moktan clan!

Although busy from 5:00 AM until almost 7:00 PM, I enjoyed the rare moments when I could stop and chat with a friend or one of the runners new to the Creemore experience.  It is possibly the best part of holding a race, for me.  I only wish I had more than a few moments to chat with the 100 or so people during the day.

So, runners found the course tough, the pizza and samosa savoury, and the Creemore Springs beer a well-deserved reward after their epic battle with the Creemore hills!  Last year, the 3 kegs sufficed for the race.  This year, after the 3 kegs ran out, I had to quickly buy 2 more small kegs.  Trust me, you don't want to run out before the 75K runners finish.  These are tough people!

Today (Sunday), I was able to clean up almost everything.  This is mainly because we had the luxury of several volunteers on clean-up duty after the race.  Yes, they picked up dirty watermelon rinds the runners tossed to the side of the road, used gels, etc.  Lee Anne also helped pull flags from a few trails this morning, allowing me to start dismantling tents and tarps early.

Many thanks to all who participates in the event.  Runners from all over Ontario and beyond, friends, family and neighbours.  The event is grand, but the people are what make it worthwhile.

Oh!  I will have pictures on my Flickr page by the end of the week.  Go to or Enfield Timing for results.

Dig Deep!