One of the questions on the Death Race website (www.canadiandeathrace.com) is:

Q: Is the race hard?

A: Kidding, right??

 

For those of you who aren’t completely aware of the Death Race, here is a short description of it.  Simply put, it’s a cross country running race in the Rockies in August.  You have 24 hours to run 125 km.  This can be done solo or in teams.  The 125 km course begins and ends on a 4,200 ft plateau, passes over three mountain summits and includes 17,000 ft of elevation change and a major river crossing.  To put this in perspective, a marathon is 42 km.  125 km is the distance from downtown Edmonton to Lacombe.  And this is on some extremely rough trails in the forest, going downhill, and uphill, which require poles to help climb.  And for further perspective, imagine you at the Royal Glenora Fitness Centre – now run straight up the hill to the apartments overlooking the river.  Now that is steep and is a sample of a trail.    

 I also want to make it clear that I did not compete in the Death Race.  I was a volunteer and supporter for my wonderful, yet crazy, girlfriend Shannon.  She was the one to run it solo.

The lead up to the race was very cool and exciting.  It is located in Grande Cache, Alberta, so we had to bring all the food Shannon needed.  We weren’t sure what would be available there.  Imagine a cooler full of Clif bars, bananas, trail mix, yogurt, Boost.  Yes, the key to doing well is being very well fed and being in shape (of course!).

On the morning of the race, Shannon layered up.  It was a cool morning, yet sunny.  I was excited, partially because Shannon had trained hard and this was almost over, and partially because I was not running in it.  Once at the start / finish line, you could just feel the energy in the air.  Every one was jumpy, huggy, singing and anxious.  It was cool and I kind of wished I was in it.  I then realized that 125 km is fucking long!  HAVE FUN!!!  One more hug and off they went.

I was with Shannon’s mom and we had to rush over to the stage 1 transition area.  The problem was that there were like 400 racers, which meant there were over 400 cars trying to get to the stage 1 transition area.  Stage 1 is 19 km.  I know Shannon may not appreciate me posting her times, but I am extremely proud of her and she would’ve kicked my ass and so many others’ asses.  Her time on stage one was 1 hour 54 mins which is extremely good.  She was off to a great pace.

The stage 1 transition area is UTTER CHAOS!  I thought it was going to be a relaxing day for me (not so much for Shannon).  Not so.  We were stuck in town for like an hour because of all the traffic.  We get there after an hour and a half.  Goddamn, I sure hope we didn’t miss her – which would suck.  The only reason we were there was to prep her for stage 2.  It turns out we had some time.  We got out the cooler, her hydration pack, a chair, fresh socks, fresh shoes, bla bla bla.  How much stuff does one need? 

Here she came.  She’s in a great mood and running at a great clip.  The transition went well.  Chocolate Boost, clif bar, chicken noodle soup.  Good to go.  Change her clothes and off she goes.  Onto the stage 2 transition area.  We had about 5 hours until she was to get there, so we calmed down and went to have some pizza. 

Stage 2 transition was less chaotic.  The racers (called Death Racers) were spread out along the track and there was much more space to set up.  The end of stage 2 was actually the start / finish line in the middle of town.  I went down the road and wanted to give her my full support.  As I was waiting for her to come by, I felt inspired.  I can definitely see myself attempting this race.  GO DEATHRACER!!!  It was cool.  These amazing people were really testing their limits and it was inspirational.

 

Then I saw her.  The smile had disappeared and it appeared to me like she was not having much fun.  At the transition area, she explained that she had fallen and her back and hips were not liking this very much.  Stage 2 ended up being 6 hours and it was 26°C.  She was disappointed and I could tell.  She ate, we changed her shoes, filled her Camelbak, and off she went.  Onto stage 3.  GO SHANNON!! 

Stage 3 ended up being quite hard.  Shannon’s hip and back were bothering her.  For me, I wish I could help her, but I know she’d be helping me.  It turned out that stage 3 was Shannon’s last stage of the race.  She had gone 68 km in just under 12 hours.  It was moving, grueling, amazing, agonizing.  Yet, I thought it was awesome. 

 

If anyone of you wants to challenge themselves, I encourage you to test yourself.   It is a major challenge of your mind and body.  Be sure to at least train for several months though, otherwise you won’t be able to drive home.   Did I mention Shannon is crazy?  Don’t forget strong and incredible.

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