After our epic day up in the mountains on Saturday we all slept like the dead when we finally crawled into bed. We didn’t have to be up too early on Sunday but before I even opened my eyes all I could hear was the heavy rain hitting the windows of our hotel room. Sigh.
We had been very lucky with weather all weekend. The threat of rain was there both days so far but we really only saw a little bit of rain and slushy snow at the very top of Kicking Horse Mountain on Saturday afternoon. I guess Sunday was making up for all the rain we didn’t get the first two days.
Considering I’d been running for 12 hours the day before my legs felt pretty good on Sunday. They were definitely stiff and tired but not in the kind of pain I’ve often had after ultra marathons. I managed to get myself dressed and ready (with a few extra layers due to the rain) and we had our breakfast again in the hospitality suite.
It was pretty wet when we got back to Spirit Square for our final day of running. Everyone was in good spirits but there were plenty of sore, slow moving legs! We huddled under the tent for a bit, sharing stories and then it was time to go.
Even though my legs weren’t too sore, it was pretty tough to get them moving once we started running. They didn’t hurt but man were they tired. It felt like I was barely lifting my feet up off the ground. My only goal for Day 3 was to just keep moving and finish the race.
We ran our way out of town along a crushed gravel trail that ran along the beautiful, turquoise Columbia River before taking us up into the trails.
After we left the river, I fell into step with Solana. We were both pooped from the day before and kind of grumbled our way along as we struggled to find a rhythm. There was a little bit of a climb to get up from the river but once we got to the top of that and onto some rolling trails we found our rhythm and quietly plodded along.
There was so much to think about having had such an incredible but emotional day the day before. I was so incredibly proud of finishing such a tough race but still had some misgivings because we missed that cut-off and didn’t run the full distance. Turns out that Stephanie and I were the only two runners to get cut off and no matter what, that just kind of stings.
I have always felt I can ‘believe in myself’ through almost anything but this time that just wasn’t enough. I don’t like to fail and that’s why it meant so much that the race director allowed us to just cut off some of the course so that we could still finish. It was quite the day and just so much to think about as I ran along on Sunday.
The course on Sunday was a 20-ish km rolling course through some really beautiful trails. Thankfully not a lot of climbing just rolling and little hills here and there. We ran through some really cool rock geology, open fields, tree-lined trails and everything in between. I commented to Solana several times that this course would be my perfect trail run if I wasn’t so tired!
Neither Solana or I had much in the way of goals for this day, we just wanted to get it finished. We ran when we could and walked when we felt tired. Thankfully the rain had stopped fairly early into our run so it was pretty comfortable.
The volunteers all weekend had been really wonderful but the volunteers on Sunday seemed to be especially kind and energetic. Or maybe it’s just that we were so tired we really needed that extra boost from them. Either way, the course marshals and aid station people were super positive and it was so great to see their smiling faces as we shuffled by.
We plodded along, chatting and just getting it done and then all of a sudden we realized that we were on the way back. We’d managed to keep moving but it felt really good to know we were making our way back.
As we got closer to town we could hear the announcer and crowds waiting at the finish line. Nobody really likes being last in a race but the good part about it? You have more people waiting for you and cheering you on as you finish! Okay, maybe they were just waiting for the awards to be handed out but I like to think they were there just for us.
When we turned the corner onto the bridge and ran back into the square, my eyes welled up with a few tears. They were tears of joy, tears of relief, tears of pride for finishing three gruelling days of running. I guess maybe these were the tears that the course was named for.
In the end:
- Total Distance over 3 Days: 81 km
- Total Time: 17:37:06
- Total Elevation Gain: 4000-ish metres
- Overall Standing: Last place of only 11 women in the Open, 3-Day Solo category (and damn proud of it!)
We had to pack up pretty quickly and hit the road soon after we finished because we had a long 8 hour drive back to Vancouver. We had enough time for hugs, chatting with friends and of course, lots of pictures before getting changed and jumping in the car.
Like the drive up, our drive home was pretty enjoyable. We all had stories to share and so much to talk about. I think we hit up about 3 different fast food places on the way home and enjoyed every greasy minute of it. When I finally got home, I jumped in the tub with a celebratory ‘Mommy Beer’ in my Golden Ultra finishers stein.
It was an incredible weekend full of more ups and downs than I could have possibly expected. I gave my blood to climb my first vertical km on Friday, poured my sweat into all 12 hours of the hardest thing I have ever run on Saturday and let the tears flow on Sunday over the achievement of finishing my first stage race.
Can’t wait to do it all over again next year. (Registration is already open here!)