I love trail races. I must have said that at least 10 times to different people at the 5 Peaks Trail Running Series opener at Terra Cotta Conservation Area yesterday. These 5 Peaks races are such an awesome way to spend a Saturday – outside, surrounded by like-minded people, and pounding our running shoes in the dirt! It just makes for a totally enjoyable, low stress (yet still competitive for some) atmosphere.
The pre-race was great with lots of time to check in and grab your registration kit (if you were on time!) The kit had some awesome swag including a special edition 5Peaks buff from Buff Canada and some Kicking Horse Coffee – both of these things are staples in my list of running necessities! Erin (the Race Director) kept us updated on the PA and the kids got in on the action with a short race of their own. Soon it was time to line up and get out there to do what we came for.
The 5 Peaks races have two main distances – Sport and Enduro. At Terra Cotta the course was a 5.4 km loop, so it was one loop for the sport runners, and two for the enduro peeps. Both sport and enduro racers started together, which makes for some confusion and less ability to gauge where you are in the field. Realistically though, there is not much way around this without running each race separately – in the interests of time, this is probably the best option. The race did have waves, so if you thought you were in the running for top 3 overall in each race you would start in wave 1 – evidently there were a whole lot of people that thought they could win this sucker!
Off we went. The first km or so was crowded but things started to thin out after that. There was a good mix of technical singletrack and open trails on the loop so runners could safely pass, and show off their fancy footwork over the rocky, rooty sections. The course marking was great – I had never seen the course before and had no problem finding my way around. There were marshalls at a few key spots to make sure everyone knew where they were heading.
The post race activities were typical 5 Peaks good times. The awesome sponsors of this series had a ton of prizes to giveaway and the RD mixed it up a bit with some random bib number draws and some that tested runners’ skills and fitness. There was a shoe throwing event (mass start throwing tons of shoes at the same time at one bucket), a hat toss, a best use of a buff contest, and a planking competition. Lots of people won lots of prizes, resulting in lots of smiles! The only slight downer on the post race party was issues with the timing system. 5 Peaks is great at recognizing the top finishers overall and in each age group and unfortunately some technical difficulties prevented this. It was obviously stressful and disappointing for the RD (and the timing people), but they have committed to getting the results right and getting awards out to the deserving runners ASAP. These things happen and hopefully some lessons learned will prevent it from happening again.
I love trail racing. 5 Peaks does trail racing very well. Ergo, I love 5 Peaks! Come join the fun at the next race in the series – June 21, 2014 (summer solstice!) at Heart Lake Conservation Area in Brampton, Ontario. Say hi to me and the 5 Peaks Ontario Ambassador Team while you’re out there!