Today was Shuttle Day! The first training run of the year where we meet at the finish area, and shuttle to the beginning (in this case, Cleveland Dam to run the last 1/2 of the BP). Many were initiated into the ways of coordinating nearly 70 runners into a variety of strangers vehicles and getting them whisked off to the start. All went well, and no one was left behind (like the Marines)….if anything, the shuttle has become a right of passage and a hallmark of the Knee Knacker training runs. It’s a great way to get to know your fellow runners. The weather was stellar, and we tried to keep the pre-run briefing short.If we carry on a bit too much, it’s because we care about y’all and want to make sure everyone gets through the day with as little issue a possible.
We headed up the road to re-join the Baden Powell at (the now very familiar) Grouse Gate. I started at the back of the pack and it was quite a sight to see nearly 70 people heading up Nancy Greene Way. I have always struggled with the first 40 minutes of a run….lungs burn, legs are sluggish, head is foggy, muscles ache….but eventually, I get into a rhythm and find a comfortable pace.
As I settled into that pace, I found myself running with a new-to-ultra-distance-running fellow named Duncan. As it turns out, this would be Duncan’s longest run ever. As it also turns out, the lottery did not work in his favour, so he did not get in to the Knee Knacker this year. But he really likes the idea of running the Baden Powell trail from one end to the other, so he decided to train for it with our group.
I should point out at the time, that everyone is welcome to join our training runs. In fact, many participants are not in the race itself. They may be training for other events, or (like Duncan) they’re doing it for a self-supported crossing of the Baden Powell later in the season. Kudos to all of you….the trails and the mountains are the best place to be (IMHO). Anyone who endeavours to max their time out there and enjoy the freedom of access that we have, have definitely got their priorities and karma lined up.
The trails are public and they are there for everyone to enjoy at no charge. One thing I would like to put out there, is that races (all races) are not to be banditted….that is, sneaking onto the tail end and following the race, and using aid stations is forbidden and can get you a lifetime ban from many races (Knee Knacker included). Besides, it’s stealing from other participants.The trail is there all year long, so bust your hump and pick another day. Don’t present it as an alternate to the Knee Knacker. It’s not just plagiarism, but it puts all of the committee’s very hard work at risk with the 11 (count ’em 11!!!) various governing bodies that allow us passage through this amazing trail system. Being a “Free Loader” is not cool.
That said, it was great chatting with the variety of runners and talking about their various goals, nutrition, techniques, travel plans, etc… At one point Joomin took a funky step and her ankle twisted. It was enough for her to take a pause and assess the situation. As is the case with trail runners, many concerned folks stopped their training run to check in on her….ibuprofen was offered, cell phones were out, and rides were ready to be arranged. In a matter of a couple of minutes, Joomin was able to stand and then walk, and then run. It seemed (for now) that the ankle was only tweaked, but it gave a clear example of how the trail running community bands together to help each other out. In fact, I have witnessed this same camaraderie in the heat of racing. Great folks, those trail runners!
So we carried on towards Deep Cove as the day got warmer and the trail got busier. Duncan and I had a comfortable pace going and I must admit that I greatly appreciated the company of someone who was new to the trail. I have run this section of trail innumerable times (literally….I cannot count that high), and it was refreshing to see it from someone else’s perspective. We chased down a few people, we were caught by a few people, we moved through the trail and we weaved through the throngs from Quarry Rock to Panorama. Although the crowds along the final section of trail have grown exponentially, it is still a great feeling to hit the final descent on the trail and onto Panorama Drive, and blast that last section of pavement (I typically run on the grass strip to the left) and to that imaginary line between the new picnic table and the lamp post that represents the race finish to the cheers of the 10 to 15 other runners that were already waiting for us on the sunny grass slope. That, to me, is the spirit of trail running and my personal favourite portion of all of the details that make up this race. Thanks Duncan, for the conversation and adding another spectacular day to the memory bank.
See you all on Sunday.