Stage 3 - Ultra520k Canada 2018
Run - 84.4km | Princeton to Summerland
On day 3 I woke up feeling a little bit tired, as my alarm sounded I quickly hit the snooze button and returned to sleep for a little bit longer. I made the decision to opt out of the event breakfast prior to the race to allow just an hour or so of more sleep. As my alarm sounded for a second time and my support team knocked on my door I was ready to go.
I was excited about day 3 as the run was my strongest discipline and I had more than enough motivation knowing that my family along with my kids would be at the finish line today. The dream I had visualized for over a year was only a double marathon away, I was determined to carry my kids across that finish line and nothing was going to stop me.
After I grabbed a small breakfast consisting of a few hard boiled eggs, some coconut oil, peanut butter on a spoon and some almonds I jumped in for a quick shower and then suited up.
The drive out to the start line with my support team was calm, the morning was a little cooler and the sun was revealing what was going to be a beautiful day. On arrival I went through my usual routine of getting warmed up, checking in with the medical team.
Our start line was located right in the middle of a two lane road and for the next 84.4km would consist of pavement, loose gravel and lots of climbing. After I said my goodbyes I took my place on the start line the horn blew to begin the final stage of Ultra520kCanada 2018.
My game plan was to run with consistency for as long as these legs would take me, I knew that it was well beyond physical at this point and my mental game would encounter many walls that I would have to dig deep and persevere through.
The first 10km were a bit of a warmup and I ran with a small group which helped as we shared stories and laughs. As I made my first pit stop to use the non existent facilities which consisted of finding a bush or tree, I found myself back running solo, I would run solo for quite some time and before the first climb I found myself running light, focused and dialled in.
As I made the first climb I kept pushing at a good pace, consistent and my team was keeping me well hydrated and cool. I would eventually begin to catch up to some of the runners that were ahead of me, I hadn’t seen anyone for quite sometime so it was nice to see some familiar faces.
By this time I began to feel the sun on my back, I was on the dirt road and making my way inside of 30km, I would continue to pass a few other athletes and felt like I was in a good group as we would push each other to keep going. As I was approaching my first marathon I could hear the sweet sound of Steve King’s voice as he welcomed the runners through to the halfway point. I came across in and around 4hr 23min I think, at this point I was more focused on the finish line anyway.
As I continued on the dirt road the elevation I had climbed up to that point was nothing compared to what was lying in front of me. I ran all the way to kilometre 63 before I hit a long climb which was just the beginning of a 10km ascent which consisted of a few flatter sections.
As I began to walk up the hill I could hear shuffling behind me, at a glance I saw that it was one of the Costa Rican team members, as he approached closer I recognized that it was Jorge. We walked together up that hill and at the top decided to start running together. We figured it was better to feed off each other for the remainder of the race. We both were strong runners and we both knew that if we had each other we wouldn’t stop.
Over the next 16km we would stick together and tackle the hilliest portion of the course. We laughed as our watches had a different reading for distance, a full kilometre off. We were hoping my watch was correct as it read we were a kilometre further than Jorge’s. As we said goodbye to the dirt road and hello to the paved road we were now inside of 10km and we began to descend a winding road into the town of Summerland. We were running as fast as 4:45km bombing down the hill and my quads were burning and feeling a little heavy.
With just over 5km to go Jorge and I parted ways, I would have liked to keep pace but I was beginning to slow down a little. It was kind of fitting that I would take on these final kilometres by myself with my support team following in my footsteps. I remember taking a left out onto a long stretch of road, up to this point I had dug deeper than I have ever gone before, I hit multiple walls and had to make critical decisions to keep pushing, one foot in front of the other as they say.
As I approached inside of 2.5 kilometres Tim would get out with me and begin running, I was starting to get emotional, I was just approaching 9 hours and I knew that my family, wife and kids were right around the corner. With just a few blocks to go I rounded what would be my last turn and in half a block I could see the finish line.
One year ago I came up here and watched runners cross this exact finish line after 3 stages, 520km and 3 disciplines. I had envisioned this moment over and over for a year, hundreds of times. It was my turn to carry my kids across that finish line, it was my one and only goal. As I slowed to a walk and the beginning of the chute that was decorated on either side of nations flags I was about to join an elite group of athletes who also had crossed this finish line.
I broke down in tears, full of so many emotions, I thought of my dad, my willingness to take on what I once deemed impossible, my family and the support I had throughout the event, my support team that followed me every step of the way.
As I began walking I saw my kids, I picked up Wyatt first and Kennedy ran away until she saw it was me. I began slowly jogging with my two nephews running beside me, the last few steps I slowed down to take a look up at that final finish line banner as I walked across to a 7th place finish and a time of 9:12:34 which moved me to 14th overall. All of that was overshadowed by the joy of being with my kids. I always had wanted to show them that we are extraordinary and we can accomplish amazing feats, I couldn’t help but think about the impact this moment would have on them.
As I knelt down and held them I could hear the sound of Steve King’s voice, cheering from my family and friends, my support team, my sponsors Natera Sport and all the others people at the event. It was a special moment, one of which would change my life forever.
It was truly like what Steve Brown the race director had said at the opening ceremonies, “we arrive as individuals, race as friends and leave as family.”