Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Best "Stupid Run" Contest

As I write this, I have just had my left ankle taped by superphysio Ramsey Ezzat. I managed to get a baby sprain this past weekend. The sprain didn't come from the 24km Phantom Run, (or, as I call it, the "Phantom walk slowly downhill") where I ran down muddy trails, along ice and snow covered boardwalks, and walked like a champ on a lot of the technical parts to finish 5th female. No, this sprain came 2km into my recovery run with Lucy the day after. I'll be back running in a few days (good news), which means that me and my uterus will have to brave a stationary bike for up to three days (terrible news).

So in the spirit of questionable run choices, I would like to have my blog's second contest (this was the first) for your story of your "stupidest"run. 

Note on the definition of stupid run
A stupid run is not bad - it is awesome. It absolutely, completely, did not go to plan. If you had a chance to travel back in time, some things would be changed. It could have taken longer than plan. The route could have been shorter. Maybe certain injuries / embarrassing situations would not have happened. And it was an awesome run that you are so damn glad you did.

1. Submit your story of your "stupidest" run by December 21, 2013. You can submit: in the comments to this post, in the facebook comments, or if you're shy, e-mail to lea.alexandra.c@gmail.com.
2. The person who submits the best story gets warmer feet, courtesy of a $50 FITS gift card, and a bottle of wine, courtesy of me.
3. In the likely but still embarrassing circumstance that nobody submits, the prize will go to either to Lucy (who promised me a story) or to Barry (who I'm pacing next year so has to enter) by default.

My own "Stupid Run" story
On the July long weekend this past year, a group of us ran part of the Squamish 50 course. This is the story of how we covered 28km in a blazing 4.5hrs.

As with most of these runs, everything started really promisingly. We had a great group: Allison and Ramsey, Mary, Katie, and Matt (who has relocated to Ontario because he can't deal with the shame of me beating him in the Sun Run 10k next year). Ramsey had planned our run route, along trails with promising names like "Angry Midget" and "Mountain of Phlegm." He even had a iphone app to help us navigate. Mary had printed out a course description. I think there might've even been a map, which looked like squiggles on top of more squiggles.

We all met on time, and started the run as on time as multiple bathroom breaks could do. The issue - I believe on-time was around 10am. On one of the hottest weekends of the year. It was about 30C by the time we started. As soon as we ducked into the forest, it was then 30C and humid. We climbed and climbed, then descended on still-slippery soil, flailing down mountain bike ramps and shaking down switchbacks.

The navigation was going pretty well - the guys and Katie, with superior downhill - had gone ahead to scout out the corners. Allison had the first wipe out of the day on a slick mountain bike ramp. We kept going. The day got hotter. This was a rain-forest, the trees closing in green and close and sweaty overhead. Mosquitoes buzzed around stagnant pools. We had climbs through grass, skirting flooded trails. At the top, we broke out to see trees surrounding us, mountains and low hills. I brought 2L of water, and after 3hrs, most of it was gone.

The first real wipe-out of the day happened on the way off one of the many summits. The trail app confirmed the way to the "trail" was down a very steep cliff face. Matt, who has very poor self-preservation skills, was first to go down the cliff face. Miraculously, he was okay. Ramsey went next....and was almost okay. Except for his elbow, which was bashed-up and bleeding in a potentially-not-okay way. We kept going.

By this time, I was completely out of water, and was drinking Matt's not-very-much-water. According to the maps, we were supposed to be getting close to the last 5-6km. This was great...until we approached a track of semi-dirt road which was supposed to have a turn-off to the right. The trail on the turn-off was going to take us to "Mountain of Phlegm", on which we would finish our run on one last summit, then do a triumphant downhill back to our car.

We went back and forth on the damn road. I remember that we ran into a stray dog, that Ramsey tried to return to its owners (Ramsey does not necessarily remember this part). Finally, we decided to go through the woods on a trail that looked sorta-right.

The trail brought us to a 3-way intersection. We looked at Mary's route description. We consulted Ramsey's iphone app. Then we went by navigation through process of elimination: we tried every one of the three damn routes, which seemed to take us up to a different summit.

By this time, we had all pretty much run out of water. It was hot as balls. Matt kept trying to sit down at every opportunity. Certain people who rhyme with "Smalex" were doubtful of Ramsey's iphone's navigation abilities. However, we kept going.

It turned out that the fourth try was the charm: the trail that seemed stupid, all rock along a cliff face, turned out to be the right one. We tried it, said no way, then ended back up again. The sound of the freeway has never been sweeter.

On the final stretch back to the car, we were all seriously hot and thirsty. We came across a small child with a lemonade stand - amazing! Until we realized that none of us had money. I had to be talked down from begging free lemonade / issuing an IOU.

We finished our run directly in the grocery store. By the time we reached checkout to pay, we were scanned already-drained bottles of chocolate milk, coconut juice, water, and coke. We were sweaty and way too muddy. Our planned time to do the run? 3hrs. Actual time: 4.5hrs.

Doing it all again
The next day, we were out for another 4.5hours, and were overjoyed to "only" get lost for about 15minutes.


  1. Of course, I have more than one of these awesome "best laid plans" stories.

    One of my faves from this year, was a Hanes Valley/Crown Mtn run in the summer. 4 of us went out, Jay, Melissa, and Shea, and none of us had ever done the route, but I had read other's trip reports, and we had take a photo of the instructions in the Vancouver Trail Running book. We made it out to Hanes no problem, but Crown was the issue. Gary Robbins had mentioned the climb being pretty tough, so, instead of following the trail to a signpost, when we saw a large rock field chute, we over thought the trail, and decided it must be up there. However, THERE WAS NO TRAIL up there. We kept assuring ourselves that it's "more advanced" and they don't want people hurting themselves so that's why it's not marked. No, actually we were climbing up a boulder field, super steep, half covered in ice still, like idiots.

    Melissa took a nasty fall, splitting her palm open, and almost going off a drop backwards, but her knight in shining armour, Shea managed to somehow grab her, and save her from a nasty 20 ft drop. Shea and Jay went ahead to scope the "trail" while Melissa and I rested on some rocks, took some pictures, and debated our stupidity or just not being as hardcore as others.

    Shea dislodged a small rock, and it came fall, in slow motion, straight at me. Perched on a rock, with a long ways down, I couldn't move, and got shot in the uterus with that rock. At that point, we called it a day on this "trail" and headed back down.

    We decided to shortcut through another mountain chute, and got about halfway down when we heard rocks, and realized that a snow shelf had fall way above us, and a rock avalanche was shooting down towards us. We dove towards the mountain side, laid down small, and let the rocks fall past us. Once the coast was clear we boogied it out of there as quick as we could, all really scared.

    We got back on the main trail, climbed out of Hanes Valley and straight into a sign that told us where to actually go to get to the top of Crown Mtn. Yep, it WAS marked. We were getting pretty tired, and still had a long ways to go, so we skipped the detour, and headed for Grouse. Grouse seemed to take forever from Hanes. And while in the bathroom cleaning up, an off duty worker took one look at dirt stained me and Melissa with her bloody hand and sent us straight to the first aid room. They took pity on us and gave us bottled water, and let us sit in the office while Melissa was bandaged up.

    Our cars were back at End of the Line, so we headed down Mountain Hwy, and we thought it was much closer than it was to get home. We all ran out of water. It was hot. We were dying of thirst. The road never ended. We finally staggered out of the forest, and saw the store, and that ICE CREAM was open. Only 8+ hours out on an adventure, blazingly fast for the 32-34 kms we traveled, and the mishaps we faced...but sitting down, having Ice Cream in the late afternoon, made it easy to forget about it.

  2. Eh, I'll throw in mine for this one.

    It was the last long run before my first half marathon and I woke up to nothing short but a blizzard. Armed with fall running gear I go to meet my friend at the Glenmore Reservoir. What is usually a beautiful run was covered in snow. I put on my fall jacket (since I forgot a running jacket) shoved socks onto my hands as mitts and headed out.

    Being our longest run to date and my first time running in snow the first couple kilometres were surprisingly okay besides the snow in my eyes. By the 8th km my shoes were soaked and my feet freezing but with two more kilometres to the turn around we kept at it.

    The wind blowing off the Reservoir we finally get to turn around. I pulled out frozen GU chews and chipped my front tooth on the first one. Bummer. We get to the washrooms around 13km that are to be open during the weekend hours in winter and someone did not come in that morning to unlock them. We both hoped for extra water as I was only carrying 14oz and was running on empty. So that means we had to rely on eating snow.

    Being -16 with the wind chill and the snow not stopping was chipping away at my sanity and my friend and I stopped talking as all of our effort went into finishing this run and not slipping and hurting ourselves. It is the little things that keep you sane though like the bike that passed us and left a trail so I could stare at it and not keep looking at the blank white path ahead.

    We reached our cars and promptly got in them (after wiping off all the snow). This was my hardest run mentally and physically to date. It was insane, stupid and crazy of me to attempt this run seeing how little I was prepared but when I look back at it I am glad that I did it because it shows that most things are possible and to quit complaining.