Sunday May 21, 2017: Training Run Report by Glenn Pacé
Well….the weather went from winter to summer and skipped spring entirely. Temperatures were aiming towards 25c! That said, the conditions higher on the trail spectacularly underscored what we have all been through so far this season. Some years have had snow, some years have been completely dry. This was definitely a snow year. We have done this run for many years, but what made this year different, was the added obstacle of skiers…..yes, Grouse was still open to ski/boarding on this spectacular Victoria Day long weekend.
A group of almost 60 runners were out on this day’s training run. We started at the Grouse parking lot, and headed East on the Baden Powell…it’s starting to get familiar for a few folks (note: this is the one section that seems to give runners the most mental grief on race day….which is a good reason to do it so many times in practice). Once we got to Mountain Highway, the plan was to head up, up, up the gravel road to the top of Grouse Mountain. It’s a long steady grade that works your mental resolve as well as your legs, lungs, and heart.
Needing some variety (I ride those switchbacks waaay too much on my mountain bike….don’t judge me!) I took a short-cut and headed up St Georges/Per Gynt. This gave me the opportunity to check on the less fast runners on the BP, as well as the speedsters higher up.
The weather was spectacular, and warm. As I got back onto the gravel road and passed the gravel quarry, I was met with something that seemed to greet all of the Knee Knacker runners…..a protective grouse. This isn’t the first time we’ve had to deal with a territorial beast (who remembers the grouse on the lower slopes of Black Mountain?), but I have never had a bird chase me for so long (maybe 700m?) or so aggressively.
The other item of note was that the gravel road was ploughed and completely free of snow underfoot….however, there were snow banks on either side that reached over 8′ tall in some sections. If you haven’t already seen Salvador Miranda’s photos, take a look! I took some time to write words of discouragement on the white walls….they probably melted a few minutes afterwards, but it broke up the monotony of the climb.
People trickled in to the top of Grouse with stories of the heat, the grouse, and the snow. The final hundred meters were marked by sloppy wet slush, tourists, skiers, and a CBC crew who were interested in what residents of BC do for their long weekends (veteran Knackerer, Curb Ivanic was featured and gave a plug to the race).
Some people opted for the comfort of the gondola ride back down, some took an adventurous route down Mackay Creek, and some took the BCMC. It’s worth noting that downhill running is a special skill worth practicing…if not for the technique, then for adapting your quads to the pounding (it’s called the “Knee Knacker” for a reason). Feeling fresh from my “shortcut”, I chose to descend the BCMC. I ran down with Pat (another Knee Knacker finisher) and we had a good chat about running, skiing, and food to while away the time. As there were many people heading up the trail, we were very cautious to minimize the effect of any loose rocks, and made sure to cede way to those heading uphill.
All in all, it was a spectacular day…..I sure hope the weather cooperates in the upcoming weeks. Next week, we will be doing an out and back to Mount Hollyburn. Make sure you watch the weather forecast. While there is sure to be snow underfoot, we have seen every type of weather over the years…from searing heat (sunscreen!!) to wet and cold (frozen fingertips, shivers,etc….). Dress for the weather!
Enjoy the rest of the week and I look forward to seeing you all next week.