The Golden Ultra Day 3: Easy running on tired legs

Me, running the beautiful single-track on Day 3. Photo: Bruno Long/Golden Ultra

Me, running the beautiful single-track on Day 3. Photo: Bruno Long/Golden Ultra

This was the “easy” day – provided you hadn’t pushed your body too hard the days before. Of the original fifty one racers who had aimed to complete all three days, seven had either DNF’d a previous day, or had chosen not to start today. So we were down to 43 aiming to complete the entire staged ultramarathon. We were a total of 78 on the start line, though, including the one-day runners. And today it was rainy… but at least not very cold.

We started again at Spirit Square, downtown Golden, but this time we headed in the opposite direction – over a covered bridge then along the Kicking Horse river on a wide gravel track, before veering into the woods. I don’t know for sure why this town was named “Golden” – but for anyone visiting at this time of year, the name sure makes sense, with all of the leaves turning colour.

Beautiful fall colours around Golden in September. Photo: Bruno Long/Golden Ultra

Beautiful fall colours around Golden in September. Photo: Bruno Long/Golden Ultra

In general, I am pretty slack in my actual “running” training – a lot of what I do is steep fast hikes, or long slow jog-walks, mixing up the jogging and walking. I really should do more runs without walking breaks – I’m sure it would make me faster. So – considering that – I was very pleased by how much I felt like running on this third day!

I may not be a great runner, but what I am good at is taking care of my body and pacing myself for multi-day races. So it was quite interesting to see that I was keeping pace with, or even staying ahead of, several of the women who had been running hours ahead of me the previous day. Especially on the uphills – there was nothing steep today, but the whole route was just gently rolling, up or down – and I was still able to run the uphills where they were reduced to a walk.

For much of the first half of the race I had a nine-year old following me! He actually wanted to pass me, but he was running with his mom and she kept reeling him in,reminding him to pace himself for the full 19 km. She’s actually a very experienced hundred-mile racer, very good with pacing and keeping Tristan fed and happy. I really love that, seeing kids out there challenging themselves physically, with the encouragement of parents who actually know how to make it a positive experience for them.

So that ended up being the first time in my life being passed by someone 42 years younger than me! (In my defense, I had run 55k the previous day. And I’ll add, in my defense, that 9yo knees take the downhills a lot better!). Tristan and his mom had been eating along the route, so when I stopped at the halfway aid station for a snack, they blew past me and I never saw them again!

Crossing the finish line! Photo: Bruno Long/Golden Ultra

Crossing the finish line! Photo: Bruno Long/Golden Ultra

It was a great feeling to make it to the finish line – always a good feeling, and even more so when it is a challenging multi-day route like this one. My biggest goal was to finish it uninjured – because I have only four weeks between this race and Dave’s and my one-week race in Africa! – and I finished it feeling wonderful! And quite pleased with my times.

Stage winner was – by along shot – California’s Jorge Maravilla in 1:39, a performance which put him solidly in front as three-day champion, for a total time of 8:27:58. Alberta’s Ailsa MacDonald continued her stunning performance – apparently she is new to trail racing, just transitioning from marathon running – taking first female and second overall with a total time of 9:10:03. I think we’ll be hearing more about Ailsa in the coming years!

This was a fantastic race, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. The routes are simply stunning – in particular, the Day 2 ultramarathon day with the ascent along the canyon rim and then the ridgeline traverse. And it’s quite easy to get to – especially if you live in BC or Alberta (Golden is only a 2.5 hour drive from Calgary). The Golden Ultra race dates are already confirmed for the next three years: Sept. 23-25, 2016 and Sept. 22-24, 2017 and Sept. 21-23, 2018. I hope to be back running there again soon – maybe I’ll see you there!

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