Monday, October 31, 2016

The Race Season is Over!

Obviously, by "race season", I am referring to the Ontario Ultra and Trail race series.  There are still many fine races to come in 2016, but a big part for many ultra and trail runners in Ontario is the OUTRace series.  And I don't think a lot of the participants care about their standings in the series.  It is mainly the luxury of having such a choice and mix of races.  Not all are trail races.  Some are run almost exclusively on pavement.  Niagara Ultra is almost an oxymoron, as it is run primarily on a paved trail.  Those two words are not usually paired!

Still, aside from one destination race for Lee Anne, we are not planning on running any more races this year.  I could summarize the 2016 racing year, although to conform with the unwritten year-in-review rule, I will wait until closer to the new year.  Also, there is one more item on the OUTRace schedule, the Film Festival.  I feel that I have flogged this one to death, but in case there is someone out there who has not been apprised of the event, on Saturday November 5, 2016 in Toronto, OUTRace will be presenting the Trails In Motion 4 films.  Last year was a fun time.  Many arrived early (there will be free coffee and cookies) to chat with fellow runners before the show.  There will also be some spot prizes again this year.  No, maple syrup will not make it to the prize table, I am completely out.  There will be some of Lee Anne's pottery and a few running related products.  There are only 34 spots left, but sign up here if you want to join the fun.

So, the race schedule will look a little different in 2017.  Hopefully, Run Off the Grid near Ottawa will return to the series.  Dirty Girls and Creemore will be missed, but there is a chance that other races will help flesh out the schedule.  Even without DG and Creemore, there are still 12 running events from which to choose, if you include the Spring Warm-up.  I have met a few runners from other provinces and nearby states, who are quite envious of Ontario's trail and ultra race schedule.

I did not attend nearly as many races in 2016 as I did in 2015, so that is something I hope to rectify in 2017.  Yes, it is tough to run more than one or two, but the races are such fun.  Think of it this way, if you run more races, you don't need as many long training runs!  It sounds strange, but not having to organize a race will leave me with more time to train and attend other races.

What will I do with all my spare time?  I will continue to be involved with OUTRace, by staging the Spring Warm-up, helping with the Film Festival and the OUTRace email campaigns.  Yes, I'm partially responsible for those email blasts you receive from OUTRace, about 4 times per year!  That reminds me, with the race season over, it is time for the final e-blast.  I might also join the OUTRace exec, if the opportunity presents itself.  The OUTRace exec are the people in the background, that spend a lot of their free time making the Ontario Ultra and Trail race series a reality.  These people deserve all of our thanks for all of their efforts.  I am astounded at how much time Stephan Miklos spends creating and updating the website.  Jim Orr somehow figures out the statistics for almost 3,000 runners, to determine the series standings.  Sharon Zelinski takes care of the financials.  Lee Anne Cohen and Melanie Boultbee post series related information to Facebook and Twitter.  And who is holding everything together?  The OUTRace coordinator, Kim Van Delst.  I'm not sure how Kim finds time to coordinate the series, given her family life and extensive racing schedule!  Many thanks to everyone on the OUTRace exec.

Congratulations to all the runners who toed the line at any of the OUTRace events.  Running any of these races takes training and courage.  To see how you fared against the field, the final standings (pending review) are up on the OUTRace website.  Take a look at the runners who received the Norm Patenaude award.  These are a rare breed of runner, having completed 8 or more ultras in 2016, just within the Ontario series!  The award is on my bucket list, if only training and injuries cooperate.

So, it is now time to start dreaming about what races to run in 2017.  Should I make a stab at the Norm Patenaude Award?  Or should I be realistic?  Ah!  I love humour!

Happy Halloween to all and I hope to see you on the trails!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Winter Prep

I know, the eleventh commandment states though shalt not speaketh of winter, moron...

But winter in Creemore is not exactly on parallel with winter in the GTA (Toronto).  And perhaps I should point out, that a lot of the disparity is self-imposed.  Lee Anne uses the term "Pierre-imposed", but I see that wholly as semantics.  We heat with wood.  Yes, we have electric baseboard heaters, but they are reserved for when we are traveling.  The household first commandment is "Though shalt not adjustous the thermostat"...

Even "heating with wood" is a bit misleading.  Many people do so.  They make a phone call to Acme Firewood Company and ask them to deliver 4 bush cord of wood.  They then spend an incredible amount of time and effort moving the pile of firewood from the driveway to the wood pile and stacking it.  Phew!

In order to save the cost of buying 4 bush cord of wood, which can run as high as $1200, I bought a 92 acre property, which includes about 60 acres of hardwood forest.  Yes, I make maple syrup on the same property, but that is simply a massive time consuming perquisite.  The property is primarily to supply firewood.   However, as I factor in the cost of chainsaws, tractors, wagons, fuel and the property, I'm beginning to realize that the savings are not massive.  Even spreading out the cost over the next 412 years, I'm not that far ahead...

If you decide not to phone Acme Firewood Company, you are going to need equipment and  some unique skills.   A tractor with a front end loader is very handy for gathering logs in the bush, as there is less walking with your arms full of wood.  I advise against learning how to drop mature hardwood trees by viewing a few You Tubes...  It is similar to learning how to play the violin by watching an orchestra on You Tube.  You are going to miss out on some salient bits.  Unlike learning to play the violin, cutting down an 80 foot maple tree can be (and usually is) a near-death experience.  I worked as a cutter (lumberjack) for a sawmill back in the 1980's.  The job was thoroughly enjoyable, but had one minor drawback.  I could see that at some point in the near future, I was going to get seriously injured.

So, let's review the steps that are normally replaced by the phone call to Acme:

1.  Cut tractor paths to the wood.
2.  Drop some trees.  The number depends on how much wood you need.  I supply my sister and neighbour with wood, my house and pottery studio, and the evaporator.  A total of about 15 bush cords.
3.  Buck the trees (cut to 16" length for wood stoves, 20" for the evaporator)
4.  Wait 8 months
5.  Gather the wood with the tractor, load it unto the wagon.
6.  Drive the wagon to the wood staging area and unload.  You need to build up a big pile since the wagon cannot be fully loaded in the bush.  The pile is used to fill out the wagon loads when delivering the wood.
7.  Load the wagon in the bush, then load from the pile until the wagon is fully loaded, then drive it somewhere.
8.  Unload the wood
9.  Chop and pile the wood

There!  In less than 10 steps, you too can save $1200, as long as the wood is free and you don't pay for equipment, fuel, maintenance and repairs.  I'll leave the steps needed to actually heat the house for a future blog entry.  The expression "Wood heats you twice" is totally misleading.  I calculate it heats you 12 times...

Creemore Vertical Challenge

I was quite surprised at how many people viewed my blog entry on the demise of the CVC.  I had 1400 views in the first 2 days.  Most understood the reasons for its discontinuation, but the race will still be missed.