The thing about not writing for a little while and then have a whole bunch of things to write about happen is that it is super hard to know where to start. As mentioned here previously, my mid-July was earmarked for adventure as I was registered for not one, but two trail races in the Toronto area. There is really no way to do the entire trip justice and it would be impossible to cover it all in one post, so I’m splitting it by race and making it into (at least) two separate blog posts. In a nutshell, the entire weekend was amazing. My hostess, Michelle, made sure that it was chocked full of amazing people, places and of course, races.
The first race on the docket was the 5peaks Trail Series event at Rattlesnake Point in Milton, Ontario. For this event, two options were available – a 12.3 km Enduro course or a 5.3 km Sport course. This event is known as the most technical course in the 5peaks Ontario series and its reputation is well earned as you can see by a couple pics of the trail below.
Knowing that I had a half marathon on tap the next day, I chose to do the Sport course. To further ensure I was sensible about the race, I borrowed a super snazzy GoPro camera from Michelle to record my entire run. Even better, one of my favourite twitter peeps, Caitlin, decided to run with me & help with commentary on course. Sadly, it seems as though most of our brilliant and witty play by play was lost to the wind, but hopefully I will get the video soon and be able to at least provide a visual of the course.
Based on my experience, I can honestly say that if you ever get a chance to do a 5peaks event, you absolutely should do it. Everything about the event was so well done, it is easily near the top of the list for my favourite events. The weather was absolutely perfect, as it was clear and sunny making the trail dry and relatively safe. A number of sponsors had tables set up before and after the races and both distances had a healthy number of participants. The swag itself was pretty sweet, as 5peaks likes to have unique things for each event – in this case a rubber pint glass with “How to Recognize a Trail Runner” printed on it. Each runner also got some Kick Ass coffee (literally the name) and a magazine.
Both distances started together, but due to the number of runners, as well as the nature of the course, several waves were necessary to get all runners out on the trail. Caitlin and I started at the back of the third wave as we knew we weren’t going to be especially fast. We also didn’t want to infuriate others by getting in their way or by them listening to us blabbing away for forty minutes or so. As luck would have it, a couple of other people I’ve met on Twitter, Stephanie and Erin were in front of us & seemed more amused than annoyed by us – but I guess you’d have to ask them for sure.
The course at Rattlesnake Point was absolutely incredible. Aside from starting and finishing on a dirt road around a grassy area, the race moved to the trail and under canopy. The trail was fairly technical in spots with a lot of tricky footing from rocks and roots. I wasn’t very far into the race when I felt that every penny I had spent on my Mizuno Kazan trail shoes had been worth it. There wasn’t a huge amount of elevation change throughout the Sport course, although there were a couple of really fun and challenging rock faces where only the super experienced (or silly) could do anything but walk up or down. Most of the course was rolling trail and some of the views of the valley it was edging were just breath taking.
After finishing the race (in one piece!), I spent a lot of time just snacking, hydrating and enjoying the atmosphere. It was really fun to meet so many people that I had been talking to online for the past few months in person and make some new running friends as well. Trail running is a different experience from road racing, but the camaraderie is just as strong, if not stronger. The awards and draw prizes actually took longer than the races themselves as 5peaks had several tables filled with awesome swag and unique ways to give the goodies out – including a hat toss for accuracy and a shoe toss for distance.
I can’t imagine a better re-entry into the trail racing world than this event. I spent the rest of my weekend raving about the course and since getting back to New Brunswick have continued to sing its praises. The organizers did a fantastic job and every person that I spoke to seemed to love the day as much or more than I did. If there is any way possible, the 5peaks Rattlesnake Point trail race is one that I will get back to again, maybe even to tackle the Enduro Course.