Monday, August 15, 2011

Simcoe Shores

This weekend, we are taking a break from our regular running routine to take part in a 245km ultra distance relay.

It's called Simcoe Shores.

It starts in Barrie on Saturday morning and goes, pretty much non-stop through Orillia, Coldwater, Midland, and Wasaga Beach, ending in Collingwood on Sunday around lunch time.

We did it last year for the first time.  Our goal was to win first place in our category (mixed over 40).  Our team was made up of eight runners (four men and four women) and two support crew.  The runners had to run - three legs of approximately 10k each spread out over 24 hours. The support crew were each responsible for four runners. Their job responsibilities included (but were not limited to) getting the runners to the exchange points, supporting the runners while they were running, keeping them calm and motivated when their run was coming up, finding emergency supplies of Glide, alternating between being tough, being maternal, being sympathetic, and being entertaining all while keeping both eyes on the road.

Guess which job I had?

When the idea was first tossed out back in May of 2010, I was really sick with a cold.  So Doug headed out alone for the first meeting.  He came home to tell me that I was on the team.


You need to understand who these people are.  Every one of them was a very experienced runner and was in an entirely different league than I was.  The slowest runner's pace was faster than the pace I could sustain for five minutes.  They wanted to win.  There was no way I was going to be helpful if I put on my running clothes but I was happy to drive them to victory.  So my friend Erin and I were recruited to drive and our team was baptized "Célerin and the Mojitos".

Céline + Erin + the best tasting thing we could think of that matched the fluorescent green singlets that we ordered for the team.

For those of you who have not participated in an event like this - it's pretty surreal at times.  Erin and I, and our running crews, alternated every six hours or so.  Everyone had been assigned their three legs, maps had been printed and we were prepared for everything we could think of.  Still though, it's a bit of a surprise the first time a runner is approaching an exchange point and it's now too dark to tell who it is.  Everyone had to be decked out in reflective vests, head lights, rear lights etc but, when they're running down a dark road all by themselves, all you see are bouncing lights.  And all they see as they approach are the lights of the runners waiting to run the next leg.

We learned a lot last year.  We learned that staying in Collingwood, near the finish line, is nice at the end but makes for a lot of driving back and forth during the race.  So we are staying in Horseshoe Valley this year.

We learned that our bright green singlets were a brilliant idea because we could spot our runner anywhere - even running through a forest.

We learned that Doug is really good at running uphill and Dan is really good at running downhill.  Steve loves passing people which inspires Klari to run fast so that no one Steve passed passes her.  Cathy can apparently run through some pretty nasty nausea. Barb does not run in a straight line which became very obvious at night as we watched her headlamp weaving back and forth across the trail. She also runs well to Mozart.  Tina gets super nervous before every single leg she has to run but then kicks ass every time.  Carl is crazy - he had a wedding to attend on Saturday night so he ran two legs in the morning, went to the wedding, got back at 3am and then ran his last leg.

We learned that we're pretty fast.  We didn't come up in first, but we came in second!

We had a great time and we're doing it all over again this year.  We have two new members to replace the two who could not join us this year.  Our team is now called "Célerika and the Mojitos" (Erin, we're going to miss you!) and Kate is our newest runner.  
Lists have been finalized, legs have been assigned, supplies purchased.  Weekly hill and interval training runs are all done and, in less than a week, it will be all over.  Between now and then, we are going to have a fun, exhausting and unforgettable two days.  We will bond in the dark hours of the night and the early hours of the morning.  I will drive a car full of sleeping runners back to the apartment at 11pm for a few hours sleep and make sure that they are all up and fed by 5:30am.  We will laugh all winter about the crazy moments we shared.  

I am glad I am not running.  I really am.  Between marathon training and diabetes management - it would be more work than it's worth to run three 10k races in 24 hours.  But I am so so glad to be part of this crazy group of amazing athletes.  

Some pictures of these heroes from last year...

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