Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sapphire Lakes

Climbing the final boulder fields before Sapphire Lakes

Sapphire lakes

Yes I Love the Alpine!
What an amazing fall in the Kootenay's. If I could live in the alpine at this time of the year in a little shack, I'd gladly grasp the opportunity. When I ran past Sapphire Lakes in Kokanee Glacier Park last weekend, I dreamed of how amazing it would be to have a place right there for a couple of months and be able to explore the terrain every day. Maybe next September I'll plop a tent down for a week!  I got to enjoy an amazing day with Lex and Greg as we ran up from 6 Mile Lakes Rd to Sapphire lakes, down to Kaslo Lake and out to Gibson Lake. The 10km climb out of 6 Mile, although gaining 4,000', was maybe 50% runnable. The trail was slightly over grown and could use a good weed whacking, but fun none-the-less. Half way into the run my runners knee flared up, a post race aggravation from the Whistler 50 miler, and I had to pop 2 extra strength pain killers. I never take pills so the effects were quite euphoric...That said; I think I enjoy the endorphin high much better :)...You can see by the photo above that my pain is all gone!
The run was 4 hours one way and worth the effort, but it would be nice if it was brushed out next time.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Me and my dog Maggie

Each Sunday morning I used to run with Maggie my big yellow Labrador retriever up to Cleveland Dam along the canyon beside the Capilano River. Here’s the April 10th 2001 version, the last time I ran with Maggie.

I awoke to hear the rain pelting on the side of the house. Quietly I rolled out of bed and slipped on my running gear trying not to wake Virginia. Walking past the kitchen I saw my daughter Jordan sitting at the table. She’s home for a few days from school in Montreal. If I’m lucky she runs with me but today she looks out the window and shakes her head no. Maggie and I headed out the back door and started with an easy pace through the quiet tree lined West Vancouver streets. My glasses soon fogged up so I took them off and carried them in my hand. We ran past poet Pauline Johnson’s Klee Wyck to follow the Capilano Pacific trail up the west side of the canyon. The trail here is fairly straight with the occasional turn and now and then you can see the precipitous cliffs looking down to the river where storms and slides have shaped the canyon sides.

We turn east behind the Capilano Suspension bridge fence still on the west side of the river. The trail is narrow here and exposed rocks and slick roots threaten my footing. Maggie takes off up the trail to one of the many streams and lies on her belly with the water sliding over her thick yellow coat, her nose cocked up like a snorkel. When I pass she jumps up snorting and shaking, crashing through the bush.

By this time I have been running for about 20 minutes. The rain is falling very hard. Everything is soaked. The streamlets alongside the trail are full to bursting. I can hear the raging river in the gorge below. This is my favourite time to run, no one is around and the rain has blocked the city sounds. fir, hemlock and pines tower over me and salal and ferns blanket the forest floor. Maggie urges me on and we pick up the pace.

When I was about seven years old my father hiked with me and my brothers here. We had been living in a hotel in Duncan for six weeks as he had been recalled to active duties during the Cuban missile crisis. We hadn’t seen him during this time and were happy and relieved to have him home. In those days the trails were not maintained and we bushwhacked around large washouts and dangerous places where the trail had collapsed hundreds of feet to the river below. It was exciting but we were unafraid, we felt safe with Dad. I have run this trail hundreds of times since then and each time I feel the same sense of danger and each time I think about that hike with my brothers and my father and the war that almost was.

We have reached the place where the Cap Pacific trail meets with Shinglebolt rising up from the river but we carry on straight up the mountain towards the dam. We have climbed almost a thousand feet and a heavy mist hangs in the forest. The last 250 meters of the trail to the dam are the steepest and Maggie and I push hard. My heart is pounding. Rain is streaming down my face. I am still holding my glasses in my left hand.

At the dam the mountains that surround the reservoir are hidden, the mist holds on the verge of the shore. It’s hard to see where the water starts and ends. On our last two weekend runs a movie company has been shooting a feature film here but today its just Maggie and I.

We continue east over the top of the dam to the east side of the canyon. Here’s the reward for the uphill. We sprint down the gravel service road towards the hatchery. We are mindless of the uneven surface reaching out to twist an unsuspecting ankle. There is only the joy of running now. The rain feels good and we pick up the pace once again. I am tired but I can feel the stress of the week draining from my pores

Just past the fish hatchery we run into three German tourists. Each of them speaks perfect English and each is dressed perfectly for the weather and each carries a camera. They politely ask for directions then send us on our way with a smile and a wave. We carry on past cable pool where the fly fishers congregate. Its here in the steep canyon sides that the odd fisher slips into the river. Many times we have seen the fire fighters gather at the rivers mouth waiting for it to release the rubber clad body to them.

We pass pipeline bridge, this is our outlet back over to the west side of the river to Shinglebolt trail for a shorter run but not today, we carry on straight and scramble up a steep section over rocks, boulders and roots. Maggie’s coat is steaming now and her breath shoots out steam like a locomotive.

There is more old growth forest here, the trail is covered in ancient cedar duff and our steps are muffled. Cool mist hovers in the branches above. The river below boils and eddies. It feels very old here. In the summer I often swim across a cold deep crystal clear pool to get home but today the rivers too high and dangerous.

At the end of the trail I pop out on the road to the hatchery. Still descending I run down Capilano Drive to the highway overpass then follow side streets back home.

Virginia meets us at the back door with a towel for the dog and a demand that I strip naked before I streak to the shower.

Maggie and I have done this run so many times I have lost count but each time I finish I feel good about myself. For me this is the joy of sport, just feeling good about your self and if you have a companion like Maggie it makes it doubly good.

Not long after this run I lost my running companion. Virginia came home one day to find her lying on the floor paralyzed, that evening she fell asleep for the final time. 

Bill Harbord

Monday, September 10, 2012

Svoboda Trail Race Results / Report

We had an amazing September morning for our fall trail running race. It was great to see a lot of familiar faces out to enjoy some of the local trails, especially the new awesome section of trail which will make a great added addition to the running loops in the Svoboda Rd area. The course was challenging with 2'000 of climbing over the 13km loop, but everyone seamed to love it. It was great to see some high school kids kicking but out there too, especially Linnea Sharelove who is only 14 yrs old! Thanks to all who came out and helped support the trail builders, as we'd be relinquished to running roads if it wasn't for their hard work. Hope to see some of you at the Kaslo Suffer Fest in 3 weeks!
Thanks again to Lisa and Bill for helping out and to Gericks and Snowpack for the great prizes.


Scott Jolly         1:23:58
Cail Spencer      1:26:56
Levi Smith        1:27:34
Jon Fancis         1:28:30
Sandy Boyd      1:29:45
Sasha Kabalis    1:30:19
Leanne Douglas 1:30:40

349 ?                   1:31:04
Scott Spencer     1:34:17
Jaime Frederick 1:34:44
Richard Klein     1:41:35
Nicola Everton   1:41:35
Greg Smith         1:46:00
Chris Stoich        1:46:20
Andy Daley        1:50:53
Graeme Marshall 1:50:53
Laurie Holton      1:52:51
Yogita Bouchard 1:53:00
Linnea Sharelove 2:05:22

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Meet Your Maker 50 miler

Somehow I got talked into entering the Meet Your Maker 50 mile race in Whistler last weekend. Although talking me into the race went something like this...-Carolyn- "I'm doing this Whistler 50 miler next weekend, you should run it" -Randy- "Ah...okay"...I wasn't sure if I was up for 82km, but it didn't seam a far stretch from this seasons many 40-50km runs. 50 solo runners set off at the crack of dawn, 6:15am, and started the first of 7 legs that took you in a giant loop through the mountains around Whistler. The first leg was a fast and easy 10km and gave me some time to settle in and chat with a few runners. I realized that just about every runner was a seasoned veteran and had completed many Ultras and judging by there fast times, I new I was running with the wrong crowd, so I backed off when I hit the first aid station. The next section was a gnarly 21km on the famous Comfortably Numb Trail. Anyone who has run or ridden this trail knows that there are no easy Kilometers to be had as it constantly twists and turns with short ups and downs . I Stubbed my big toe 15 times on this section, more than the last two years of running added up! By the time I got out of this part of the trail I was so happy to just put my head down and not worry about all the rocks and roots. The third section was a 10km climb that took me from the base of Blackcomb straight up 5,000' to almost the top of Seventh Heaven and then descended down to the Peak to Peak Chair. When I got to the top I was now 7 hours and half way at 42km into the race. Although the weather was perfect for running, the top of the mountain was a cool 8 degrees and I started to shiver in my sweaty T-shirt. When I got into the warm Tram ride for the 10 minute transfer from the top of Blackcomb to the top of Whistler, I had those first thoughts slip into my head about how easy it would be to quite. I figure this is the part of the race that now goes from a physical challenge to a mental challenge. It's actually easy to physically keep the legs going hour after hour as long as you can control those mental thoughts of why you can't or shouldn't keep going- that's the tough part!! The fourth leg at 8km long takes you on a quad pounding straight on descent from the top of Whistler to Whistler Creekside. It was so steep in some sections I was not sure if it was better to run it fast and get it over with or control my speed to save the Quads- I took the later approach which seamed to pay off later in the race. At Whistler Creekside, after a 5'000' descent, the next 12km section started off by turning around and going straight back up the mountain- ouch!...It took me a little bit of time to get the wobbly legs to move again, but eventually they did, as I was now focused on getting to the end of this section where the first cut off time was at. I thought I had lots of time to get there, but as I started to look at my watch, the 3:30pm cut off time was coming up fast. I ended up running - what felt like a 10km time trail pace- hammering to the next aid station getting in at 3:27pm! 3 minutes later and my race would have been over. I actually caught up to a few runners I hadn't seen since km5 and they were looking a little beaten down, so this gave me the much needed "mini boost" of adrenaline to get my ass moving again. The sixth section started off with a steep switch back climb that seamed to go on and on and on...The only thing that got me through this section was the thought of a large Coke at the next aid station. After 11hrs and 72km of running in the mountains I got to the aid station and there was no Coke!...I think I either cried or looked up to the sky and muttered something like "why me?"...One of the other runners offered me a cup of his personal stash and I gladly chugged back a glass of hot Coke- that must have been sitting in the sun. Within 30 seconds of downing the Coke and a Mars Bar, I popped out of my "feel sorry for yourself" stupor and said to the other competitor who was happily sitting in a chair "Lets go! Time to finish this f#&ker" The last 10km seamed to go on and on, but the smell of the finish line kept my legs moving, even feeling not to bad on the climbs, until I got back to the finish line at the Whistler Olympic Village in just over 12hrs.  Two Thirds of the runners either dropped out or didn't make the cut off time so I was really happy to just get this 50 miler off the  bucket list. I was a really well marked beautiful, but challenging course that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a great 50miler. I am sure they will deal with the difficult cut off times next year as I think this was the only issue runners were not happy about.