Monday, October 3, 2011

Kaslo SufferFest - Are You Ready to Suffer?

Well, all I can say is that the Kaslo SufferFest lived up to its name...It's Monday, and I'm still wading through the fuzz - ugh.

Ever been to Kaslo? If you don't know where it is, look it up.  I've never actually taken the time to drive through the Kootenays before, and after such a great weekend spent running on the local trails, I honestly wish I had more time to play (but with fresh legs!).

After a long day of driving, I pulled into the quiet little town at around 11pm...seemed like most of the 1,000 residents were fast asleep.  The only place that looked remotely open was the Kaslo Hotel & Brew Pub - I guess it's time for a pint!  Despite the local band's 'talent', it was time for bed - lucky for me, it was only 2 sets of stairs above!

Happy to be catching up on some Z's after a busy week, I was looking forward to a bit of a sleep in...but it was not to be.  Instead of my alarm, the hotel phone rattled beside me. 

"Sir, is that your big (ass) brown Dodge pickup parked out in front of the hotel?"

Half asleep..."Uh...y-yes..."

"Oh, good. I guess nobody told you...but that's our finish line today, and your truck is parked in the way of our kid's race course!"

The view of Main Street from my hotel room...right above the finish line!

The rig parked in the kid's finish lane... I guess I better move it now.

In case you didn't know, the
Kaslo SufferFest is actually a 2-day multi-disciplined stage race that includes various combos of XC mountain bike race (40km or 100km), a trail race (10k, 25k or 50k) and a DH mountain bike event. Like most of the 300+ participants, I decided to take part in only one of the many events...the 50k trail race. 

So, while I was snoring away in my comfy bed, the mountain bikers were covering some hard kms on the trails.  By the time I was back from a tasty breakfast at the local coffee shop, the town was alive and anticipating the big guns - who in this case ended up being a couple of friends of mine from Canmore - way to represent boys!

The Cafe boys in the spotlight - Leighton (right) took the win, with John (left) in 2nd
Onto the trail race...
With a quick fly-by on the important bits of the course, I was as good as I was going to get.  I typically like doing a course recon when I can - always good to be familiar with key intersections, check points, etc...Also allowed me to get the kinks out after the long drive and see how the body would feel after my 4 Peaks epic less than 7 days prior...

As I prepped my gear, I realized I forgot my Suunto watch...Funny how we get used to key pieces of gear when we race...Felt odd to not have a watch - I normally set it to gauge my pace or to see how much altitude I've covered (or how much I've got remaining!). But I survived.

Suunto data a la PV:  Elev Gain: ~ 1,500m Not a ton of gain, but the course still took it's toll with lots of singletrack, up/down terrain and few hard technical bits.

At 6am, huddled under the street lights of Main Street, a small crew of runners (50k participants) set off into the night...After a quick run through town and it was up the grunt climb of the day - a straight up, 500m gain stair-step climb known as 'No Brakes' hill... I settled into a steady rhythm, shining my light up the track and pushing on my quads to get the best efficiency out of my stride.  In behind, strongman Peter Findlay pursued.  Despite having placed top 5 in the 100km mtn bike the previous day, there he was lingering...Damn that old-man strength.

Up and up we climbed...I pushed on in the night.

As daylight broke, the climbing eased off onto the Buchanan Access Trail, one of the best singletrack traverse I've done in a while.  I didn't know how far back Peter was hiding, so I switched off my AY-UP light, put the pedal to the metal and disappeared around the bend...

For the next 10km, I was giddy...the track was simply amazing - Aside from a few up or down switchbacks to detour around natural obstacles, it was a beautiful flowing descent into the aid station. At the Wagon Rd turnaround (15km) I had gained 5min on Peter...but it's a long race so I kept my head down and kept the pace up.

Besides a bit of confusion due to missing signs at key intersections (found out later that they had been taken down by locals - I was lucky and guessed right, others weren't so lucky!), the rest of the run back down to town was fairly quick - Next thing I knew, I was cruising through town.  A quick resupply, and I was off for loop #2!


Kaslo River Bridge:  The link between the North & South trails...

Dodge this!  The race course zipped right through the Kaslo local airport...Had to look right, left, and up!

The second loop looked a bit confusion on the map (hence my recon the day before), but it actually turned out to be relatively easy to follow... There was lots of aid stations out there, so lots of opportunities to fuel up if needed.  Although there wasn't much elev gain (on paper), I definitely found this section challenging.  My body was still feeling good, but I could start to feel that I wasn't fully recovered from the 4 Peaks.  The slow consistent singletrack climbing ate away at my energy... My pace slowed in the twisty mossy singletrack.  The short/steep up and downs were taking their toll...The mind started to wander... Where was Peter?  Damn that old man strength...

At the 40km mark, I started passing runners that were on their first mini-loop of the second half of the course...good timing.  Chasing bodies perked me up and my pace quickened.  I was on the home stretch.  Once last pass by the airport (a quick look up!) and it was all the way down back to town. 

One more lap around the town's shoreline and I crossed the line...Happy camper! 

Ever been to
Kaslo? You should...with 7 different events (in 2 days) to choose from you don't have an excuse!  A big thanks to Janis for putting on a great show - and the entire community for supporting this exciting weekend of events.  Can't wait for next year! 

The hardware:  Carved by a Kaslo local artist...Not sure what inspired this guy...could it be the real thing?


Moogy said...

Killer award!
Now on my list. There is a good chance that I am moving to BC in the new year and I can't wait to get on your suhweet trails 'over there'.

xpuha said...

I came across your blog and really think it is a great resource. Good for you! I work for Oxfam Canada and every year we have a fundraising event called Trailwalker. It is a 100km in 48hrs that must be completed by teams of 4. In our 4th year in Canada now it has been a global event since 1981 and is held in 13 countries annually. I would love to chat with you as we are looking at new ways to promote the 2012 event. hope to talk soon,


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