Sunday, October 14, 2012

Oh Canada!

Montreal Marathon, Sept 22-23, 2012

When CZ texted that he was running the Montreal half-marathon, and did I want to come along (to run the full) it was a no-brainer. I had not been back there since graduation from M.D.C.M. in 1999. While there I was so eager to get back to Boston at every opportunity, I didn't fully appreciate the city, such is 20/20 retrovision. It sure felt different in my 40's as opposed to my 20's, but then again everything does.

Luckily I chose to take the red-eye and arrive late Friday night. Had time to catch a beer sampler on Rue St. Catherine, closed the place down.

Next day I had an agenda, went to replace my dead McGill backpack and get a view from the chalet on top of Mt. Royal. Luckily the subway system is great, you pretty much never have to see the light of day in winter (which is handy when it's minus 30) as the entire city is connected underground. 

After bagels boiled in honey water on the Plateau, stopped by the Shatner student center and by Redpath, the oldest building in Canada. 

Hiked up to the Trashcan (aka McIntyre medical building) where I spent so many hours. 
The students in there looked like infants. Then hiked up in the rain to the chalet. 

The climb is a lot less than I remember, but I wasn't a runner then. 

CZ was less excited about climbing a crapload of hills in the rain the day before a race, so we cabbed it to Oldtown, 

where I got to watch a 3D IMAX movie featuring polar bears while drinking beer and eating popcorn. The Canadians have it figured out. 

That evening, dinner outdoors next to the hill at km 16 of the race, and even fireworks outlining the Jacques Cartier bridge which we could see from our hotel room. 

Next morning, a perfect crisp fall day for a leisurely run through a beautiful city. I think I did more in that 1.5 days than entire months 17 years ago. 

Kaslo Sufferfest, Kaslo BC Sept 29-30, 2012

I actually sighed with relief when fellow Maniac Francine suggested we downgrade from the planned Loonie Toonie (200 km trail race, supported only by crew, divided over 3 days) to the "regular" Sufferfest 50k trail run. Either would earn you the coveted "sufferfest hoodie". 

Flew in to Spokane then drove 3 hours to pick up Francine in Rossland, BC. I was oohing and aahing the scenery, huge mountains and trees with crazy mountain bikers climbing 10+% grade hills for miles and miles. 

We drove 2 more hours to get to Kaslo, another beautiful small mountain town.

The Kaslo Sufferfest is a 3-day event with multiple mountain bike (100k, 45k, 14k, Monster Enduro) and trail running events (50k, 25, 10k) going simultaneously. People can mix it up (do 100k bike + 50k run) or double up (100k + 45 k bike), the Loonie Toonie being the longest. It was news to me there are separate helmets for ascending and descending.

Camped for $20 then got up in the dark for the 6 AM start, under a full moon. 

The pictures cannot do justice to the beauty of the trail. There was a fair amount of climbing but not the bush-whacking I feared after hearing stories about the brutality of Canadian trail runs.

They had a volunteer standing in the middle of the forest directing bikers in one direction, runners in another.

And there's nothing like seeing dawn through the trees, over some water with Selkirk mountains in the background, when you're slightly lightheaded from climbing.

And what goes up must come down

Met up with a runner from Alberta named Bobby Jo who was doing her first 50k.

Never such a variety of terrain in one race, forest, sandpit, rocks, single track, dirt roads....

and it was a perfect sunny day

We saw a bridge painted with dye made from beets, there were a lot of running in the wide open. 

And despite all the dilly-dallying, still finished under the 8 hour cut-off. 

After the race, grilled burgers and "suffer bucks" to spend in any food place in town, got to individually thank all the race volunteers. Love small town races. 

Apparently we didn't even get to see the most amazing parts (here are some photos pirated from the Sufferfest)

We'll be back next year for the Toonie.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, la rue St. Catherine. Summer of '92. All I remember is running down the street after the bars closed, buck naked. Probably did more in one night than I've done over the past 15 years.

    Oh Quebec. Je me souviens!