Bruce Peninsula Mulisport Race 2013 – Race Report
Warning: this is LOOOOONNNNGGG
Race night, you never get enough sleep. Even if you get to bed at a decent hour you’re usually tossing and turning with anticipation/anxiety or getting up every hour to pee. If this doesn’t happen to you, consider yourself lucky. This race was no exception.
The day before the race was a busy one with packing up the kids, my race kit, camping gear etc. and trucking off to my folk’s place which is a couple hours away. After a quick lunch and a few instructions for my mom, I was back in the truck and on my way again. Another couple of hours in the truck and I finally rolled into Wiarton ready to check-in. A few last minute bike adjustments, filling of hydration packs, and I was checked-in, race kit in my hand and paranoia in my step. The race was well-organized, and gear drop off was relatively easy even despite going over my plan/gear list elevety billion times.
Eventually my friends from Crossfit Opus showed up, and went to drop off their gear as well. By the time we sat down after all the pre-race shenanigans it was 11:30 and the 3:45am wakeup call was coming fast. The next morning consisted of a rushed breakfast at 4am, before a 4:30 pre-race briefing, then an hour bus ride to Cabot Head Lighthouse and the starting line.
At 6:30 the horn went and we began the first bike leg of our 96km day. The first leg left me a little discouraged, as it became pretty apparent that I hadn’t spent nearly enough time on the bike, and definitely not enough time training on technical trails. I knew my biking would be one of the weak points of my race, but the technical portions of the trail were brutal on me. Also, it didn’t help that for the first hour I had to restrain my effort to avoid throwing up everywhere. A couple sips of water sent my stomach doing backflips, and I immediately jumped into damage control mode. The 40km stage travelled gravel roads for a bit, before jumping onto some logging roads which slowly degrade into a rocky/muddy track left by a tractor pulling trees out of the bush…and then it they got worse. Eventually I gave up on trying to ride everything and simply ran the bike on anything that looked remotely difficult. Eventually the course returned to something resembling an “actual” trail, then we were spit out onto gravel roads again. The last few kms were on pavement as we entered Lionshead where transition #1 was waiting.
Transition #1 was uneventful, and despite feeling the fatigue in my quads (I pushed too hard trying to ride through the harder bike stuff) I started up the first hill excited to catch the guy in front of me, and lose the guy behind me. Unfortunately, by then time I reached the top of that hill my quads had decided they didn’t want to play nice anymore and threatened to revolt completely. I turned into the trailhead, stopped and desperately started to stretch. The runner behind me ran by, and I tried to start running again; this is where my quads started to spasm.
Frustrated, I continued to stretch and (now that my stomach had settled) drink/eat as I considered my options. Eventually my legs settled enough that I could walk, which eventually lead to an easy walk-run, then to run and “walk the hills”, and finally to “I feel awesome, let’s rock this”. My race was back on. The trail at Lionshead is gorgeous and super technical; scrambling over limestone boulders, lots of exposed rock shelves, a descent down to a cobble beach, then an ascent back up the escarpment to more rocky goodness. I repassed the guy who passed me earlier, caught/passed the guy I was chasing at the start of the run and didn’t see either of them again until the finish. SCORE. The only issue I had with the run was regardless of my fueling on the run, I was still in caloric and hydration debt from my stomach issues on the bike. I finished all my water and food about 2/3 of the way into the run, and had a mini-bonk on the last gravel road into transition #2 (the kayak portion).
As I trundled into transition #2 I opened my bag, got my hydration bag out and filled it to capacity. The bottle is only a 750ml, so it didn’t take long to chug the whole thing and fill it again. I instantly felt better, and my legs loved the respite from activity. Now let me take this moment to say how awesome the volunteers were at this race. I know it sound cliché, but the volunteers took my information, offered help when I needed it, but also backed off when I was busy doing something. Plus, one of them had baked peanut butter cookies! A cookie and a few complementary pieces of watermelon and I felt like a champ…I only had one concern….getting into my kayak. I’ve gotten in/out of kayaks hundreds of times, but in my minds-eye I pictured both legs cramping instantly as I sat down, the boat capsizing, hitting my head on a rock and slowly drowning or dropping out with a(nother) head injury (some people I work with have already commented on my suspected head injury when I told them I was doing the race so it’s nothing new).
Fortunately my legs co-operated and I was soon paddling out into the big water of Georgian Bay. The skies were blue, and a favourable tailwind left me with a feeling that things might just be looking up. As I made my way along the shoreline a race marshal’s boat pulled along side and warned me of the 3ft swells and a shoal that came out into the bay a significant distance ahead. Apparently a couple of boats capsized in the waves created by the shoal and wind, when I eventually got there I gave it a wide berth and just kept the paddles moving. As I neared the “end” of the 16km paddle leg I started calculating my times and thought that maybe…just maybe, I might able to crack 9hrs total for the day (best laid plans of mice and men). I rounded the corner into the last bay and was suddenly struck with a wicked, gusting headwind. It was the kind of wind where you take 4 paddle strokes and move ahead 1 stroke’s worth of distance. Additionally, the last bay is deceptively long…as in 5km long. Those last 5 km probably took me as long, or longer than the previous 11km. The effort level was full tilt; if you let off for a second you risked being blown off-course and backwards…and there was no way I wanted to cover that distance twice. I watched as my dream of a 9hr finish vanished in the wind tossed waves, but moreover I just wanted to get out of the damn boat. Eventually I made it in, and despite being worn down, I was in high spirits. The week before the race I had said to a friend “If I can finish the kayak, I can finish the race” and here I was, on the beach, post kayak and with lots of time left to finish the last two segments…all I had to do was survive. A banana, a Cliff Bar, some Gatorade and I was back on my bike, ready to slog out another 20km.
The final 20km bike stage was more of the same, with a few water holes thrown in for good measure. I don’t have an issue with getting dirty, but I really could have gone without submerging my foot as I plowed through (what I can realistically call) Loch Ness (I swear I felt something move in there while I was riding through it). The most notable part of this last leg was when my clip-in shoes decided they were tired and stopped letting my clip into the peddles for about 10km…it wasn’t frustrating at all…(cough). Gravel roads, more logging trails, pastures, pleasant horse paths, and finally back on the road before entering the final transition.
In my haste at transition #2 (run to kayak), I had forgotten to take my socks with me. Instead my adrenaline-hazed brain neatly tucked my socks in my shoes and put them in the transition bag. Now, at the final transition I was finally reunited with my beloved Injinji toe socks (no blisters for this cool cat). Yes, I rode the entire last bike leg sock-less. Luckily the bike shoes didn’t rub too much and I came out mostly unscathed. I quickly dumped everything, jumped into my socks/shoes and was out of transition and onto the final 5km run. The run was a mixed experience. The trail was nice, but for most of the 5km I was having chest pains that limited the effort I could put in. I had the usual aches/pains too; quads, IT band, lower back, etc. but the chest pains gave me some concern.
In the end, I didn’t have a heart attack, and my legs lasted long enough to push me across the line to the resounding finish line cheers of…one person. Everyone else was at the grandstand watching the awards ceremony, while us back-of-the-packers were still rolling in. Guess I’ll have to train harder next time if I want some kudos from the crowd (welcome to my pity party, can I interest you in a beverage?)
10 hours and 7 minutes of solid effort. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it, and I’m happy I did. Will I do it again next year? Probably, we’ll see what life throws at me in the next 8 months. My next goal is the Road2Hope Marathon in November, so after some rest it’ll be time to jump back into the road miles and speedwork.