Iron Legs

Posted by martin.parnell |

Next Events:

Cook Islands Quest 100 (Quest #4)

  • Friday Sept. 21st 2012

  • Location: Rarotonga, Cook Islands, Pacific Ocean

TriOil-Soccer Quest 42 (Quest #5)

  • Friday Oct. 5th to Sunday Oct. 7th 2012

  • Location: Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre, Cochrane, Alberta

In September 2009, I attempted one of the toughest races I had ever undertaken, the Lost Souls 100 miler. The race is located in Lethbridge and winds up and down the Oldman river along the Coulees. We headed off at 8.00am on a Friday morning and by 8.00am the next day I had covered 120km. Along the way I had started to run with another participant. His name was Andy McAnally. He was originally from Ireland but now lived in Humboldt, Saskatchewan with his wife Cathy and three kids.

Andy and I ran at a similar pace, slow. The cut off for the race was 36 hours and by the time we arrived at the second to last aid station we felt good that we would get in under the wire. We were in for a shock. The head aid station person said that there was a cut off at the last aid station and we would have to cover the 7 km in one hour. This is not normally a problem but after 33 hours we were moving like snails. This news jolted us out of our shuffle and we booted it from the tent. We covered that 7 km in 54 minutes and arrived at the last aid station with 6 mins to spare. The final push got us to the finish line in 35 hours 18 mins 42 secs. I certainly didn't want to finish a race so close to the cut off time again.

Fast forward to 6.00 am Saturday August 18th 2012. Andy and I were lined up at the start of the Iron Legs 50 mile Ultra. The race package said the following: "Welcome to the Iron Legs 50 miler and relay.  It is a 50 mile trail run that loops around Moose Mountain, in Kananaskis Country and offers fantastic single track and stunning views of the Canadian Rockies.  The course is mostly on single track trails with some fire roads and lots of elevation change.  There is approximately 20,000 feet of elevation change in the race with about 15,000 of it coming within the first 50k, which makes this one of the toughest ultras in the series". The cut-off for this race was 16 hours so it would be no walk in the park.

I also noticed, in the fine print, the following statement: "Since you will be heading into the backcountry there will be a chance you will run into wildlife, ie. bears and cougars.  If you come across any wildlife activity please let the next aid-station know so we can let the authorities know." The key to this statement making it to the next aid station!

Andy and I started off at a steady pace and covered the first 11 km in 1 hr 40 mins. Then the fun began. We climbed for 6 km up Powderface Ridge then after a short down section it was another climb to the top of Jumpingpound Mountain. We had reached 7,800 feet and the views were amazing. The only problem we were having was we were running out of time. I had estimated that the race would take me about 15 hours but I hadn't really taken into account the elevation gain. When I had looked at the map at home it looked like a nice circle route around Moose Mountain. I had failed to realise how close those elevation lines were next to each other.

Andy and I arrived at the last aid station and it was 8.30pm. We had already been going for 14 1/2 hours and we had 1 ½ hours to cover the last 10 km. Here we go again, hammer time. Andy pulled ahead I kept looking at my watch. I heard people cheering and then saw a bunch of lights at the finish line. Sue, Cathy, Andy and my buddy Hiro cheered me in and I thought I had around six minutes to spare. Andy and I then sat down and had a bowl of chill and a Guinness. Heaven.

Today, I found out my time was 15 hours 55 mins 01 sec. So I had 4 mins 59 secs to spare. Now that's cutting it a little close.

Quote of the Day

"What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Andy and I enjoy the view from the top of Jumpingpound Mountain.

Iron Legs

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