This past weekend was a holiday weekend in Canada, Queen Victoria’s birthday specifically, and there is a lot more to do in Whistler on the long weekend now that we have the amazing Great Outdoors Festival (GO Fest) offering up everything from races to music to Go Green initiatives to clinics for SUP Yoga (or just SUP itself). If you have not taken part in the last two years, mark next year on your calendar because this festival just keeps getting better and better.
My friend was celebrating a milestone birthday and as such, in a mountain town where everyone is active in a variety of athletic pursuits, we chose to mark the occasion by entering a team in the Great Snow-Earth-Water Race.
I’m just going to come out and say it: EVERYONE should be putting a team into this event! We had such a blast, and really the race is so much fun. Yes, there are serious teams in there, but the rest of us are just out to have a good time.
Teams are composed of five to seven participants, and must have at least two members of each gender on their roster. There is one stage (the canoe portion) where having two participants complete that leg is mandatory. Everyone on the team must complete at least one leg of the race.
The stages consist of:
Stage 1 – Ski/Snowboard Touring
Stage 2 – Downhill Ski/Snowboard
Stage 3 – DH Bike
Stage 4 – Running
Stage 5 – Canoe
Stage 6 – XC Bike
As you can probably guess, I was the team member taking care of the running portion of our race. When the call went out to ask who was interested in being on the team, I might have said that the only thing our team would want me to do is run. I am not even remotely competent in any of the other disciplines, and I really wanted to be on the team. So I laid down my ultimatum if you will.
The morning of the race, we woke up to rain. I felt bad for the racers up on the mountain and the downhill mountain bikers, though those legs of the race are pretty much the shortest as far as time goes; the fastest time on the downhill ski was just over 1:00, namely because the course was so short this year due to the snow level being so high already.
What I love about relay races is the camaraderie that is present in the crowd. The runners stood around in our transition, chatting and laughing, probably sizing each other up (come on, we all do it) and the more serious ones were actually doing some warm up jogs and drills. Lots of locals participating meant that many of us knew each other, so it was just standing around in the rain waiting to race against a bunch of friends when you got right down to it.
The first downhill biker came running through transition and handed off to her runner, and he FLEW out of there. “Well, everyone, we’re officially competing for second place” someone shouted as it became clear that there wasn’t going to be another downhill biker coming into transition anytime soon.
When my biker handed off to me, I did my best to bring the hustle and get out of there and onto the course quickly. I had about 5km, maybe a little more than that, for a distance to cover and that I was excited to see how it felt to push myself on the pace. For the first time ever, I wasn’t wearing a timing device so I actually have no idea how fast I was – short of the time keeping on course, a manual entry by the time keepers at each transition, that needs to be improved upon for next year – but I am pretty sure that I ran my fastest 5km ever. It sure felt like it.
The course took me along the frontside of Whistler Golf Course (the highway side) and then up the hill along the backside, down into Whistler Cay and along the Valley Trail out to Rainbow Park. One hill, and it is the easier direction to run that hill in. I knew I didn’t have to save anything for another hill later in the short distance I was covering, so I just went for it.
I ran by myself until the portion of the trail out to Rainbow Park. A guy dressed in a SWEATER, red khaki pants, goggles and a scarf passed me. And passed me at what looked like such a leisurely pace that I got a bit angry at myself. So I tried to not let him out of my sight, but that proved too difficult because he actually was clocking along and after a few curves in the path he was gone. He ended up telling me after we were both done our run that I was really tough to catch and he’d been trying to get me for a long time before he passed.
My “official” time for the run was 27:40, but I am pretty sure that I was faster than that. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter, though I just like to know! Our team, 40 and Fabulous (for the birthday girl), finished 15 overall out of 26 teams and had the most awesome time participating in honour of our friend.
We have just over two weeks to go until race day, my friends. Who’s excited?
Never Stop Exploring ❤,