The 30th of July 2011 i was standing on the starting line of one of the toughest adventure race in the world. The Canadian Death Race is 125km in The Rocky Mountains in Grand Cache Alberta. 3 summits, with a change of elevation of 17 000 feet, dirt, mud, water up to your knees, freezing rain, temperature varying from 28 degrees to -2 degrees, climbs of more then 10km, downhill steeper then 45 degrees and a time limit of 24 hours were only a few things that were going to stand in my way on that day.
At 8am, 1500 runners were standing on the starting line. Only 360 runners were attempting it solo. The others, were racing as relay teams from 2 to 5. Grand Cache as a population of about 5000 people. The race start was in the centre of the town and over 2000 people were there to cheer us on this early saturday morning.
FIRST LEG (19km)
After 5k on the road we finally got in the trails. Welcoming us with a sign saying "Only 120km to go" lol. I flew through the first leg. I compare that leg to the toughest trails in Gatineau Park. Ups and downs, really muddy with some fast and technical downhills. It took me a bit less then 1h30min to complete it. My support crew were waiting for me at the checkpoint. Louis-Philippe Daigle one of my best buddy from Ottawa, Cassandra and Chris a couple from Grand Pairies and Mike a guy that knows the trails like the bottom of is hand were all part of my support crew. I took a quick bite, changes shoes, refilled my hydro pack and hand bottle. In 5min i was back out and running, ready to attack the hardest leg of the race.
SECOND LEG (27km)
About 20k in the second leg, i started to feel pain in my stomach. The course was just ridiculous!!! I was not expecting that at all. Climbs that were never ending. Downhills so steep that some runners were sliding on there butt to get down. I started to feel a very very sharp pain in the upper part of my abdomen and started to vomit. In the middle of nowhere i had no choice but to keep moving forward. Every time i attempted to run, the pain was so intense that i was vomiting. Not able to walk in a straight line, my legs cramping very badly and still vomiting i was 1.5 km from the checkpoint. I felt that i was close to pass-out and for the first time since i started my Marathon and Ultramarathon career a was ready to quit. Two mens that were cheering on racers beside the trails saved me. They refused to let me quit. I told them "Guys i'm done, i cant go on anymore i have been in so much pain for the last hour. I gave all i had. Would it be possible to give me a ride to my support crew." They said NO! If we have to walk by your side will walk with you but your NOT QUITTING. At that point 1.5 km seems impossible for me. After lying down for 15min i decided to go on again. 30min later i made it to my support crew. After lying down in the grass for 2h and being sick a few times again i was able to relax and eat again. I told my support crew "i'll give it another shot and make sure i got pizza waiting for me at the end of leg 3".
LEG 3 (21k)
I still don't understand today where i found the energy to go back out again. With almost nothing in my stomach i ran 21k in 1h50min. I felt amazing! All i had in mind was how much time and sacrifices i made to get here. The hours of training, the time off from my job, the expense to get here, the early morning on weekends, the early nights in bed on Fridays and Saturdays. At the checkpoint in 5min, i had 2 slices of pepperoni and cheese pizza, a Mountain Dew and a Coca Cola and went back out for the longest leg of the race, leg 4.
LEG 4 (37k)
This leg was the longest one. Took me a bit more then 5h to complete. For the first 2h i was going up hill. It was unbelievable it seemed like a never ending climb. On top of Mont Hamel it was very very cold and it started to rain, but sooooo beautiful. In my little pack sack i was carrying a coat, gloves, a tuque and my headlamp. I took a minute to put them on and also set my headlamp cause it was starting to get dark and continued my run. During that leg i met a girl from Calgary. She was an awesome runner. She was running it as a relay team of 5. We ran the last 20k of leg 4 together. We've talked the whole way, it made the time past by quickly. We got caught by freezing rain at one point. Running into the dark me and Gen killed the last couple of Ks and arrived together at the last checkpoint. I ate 2 poptarts, some chips and chocolate and a coca cola. I have been racing for 16h at that point.
LEG 5 (25k)
I left around midnight for leg 5. It was dark and all single tracks. It was still raining and very cold. The course was super wet and muddy. Keeping focus i had one thing in mind, I wanted to finish strong and enjoy every second of it. Running with two lights on me, one of them stopped working 15k in. We also totally forgot to put extra batteries into my pack sack. So now only one of my light was working. I was stressing out that this one also was going to die anytime soon and i would be stuck in the dark in the middle of The Rocky Mountains, GREAT! To be honest it kind of push me to go a bit faster. I was in a race against my headlamp battery life lol. I can say that i really enjoyed those last 25k, i felt amazing. Realizing what i have been through in the last hours was an insane feeling for me. Finally i crossed the finish line just under 230am in a total time of 18h29min.
125km in The Rocky Mountain, 18h29min, 20th overall, 2nd in my age group (20-29) were my results. Only 130 out of 360 solo runners manage to finish the whole race under the cut off time of 24h. At 24 years old i ran my first Marathon, my 1st 100 Mile race and now i have completed one of the most challenging race in the world. It wasn't easy! I have learn later on that my stomach pain were Ulceres and i had lost more then 1L of blood. I have learn that in those kind of race it doesn't matter how incredibly fit you are, its how bad do you want it. Today i can say that i witness how can the mind of the human body can be so much stronger then your physique. There no better feeling then being able to surpass your physical capacities.
Again a special THANK U to everyone that supported me trough that adventure. I have one more race this year. I'll be tempting in a few weeks to complete my 3rd Ultramarathon (100k and over) in 2011 at The Haliburton 100 Mile race the 10th of September.