Grizzly Ultra 50K

photo by Phil Villeneuve

      On October 13th I laced up for one last race for what has been a long, exhausting racing season. The Grizzly Ultra is a technical 50K race at the Canmore Nordic Center in Kananaskis country. Before the race started I knew it was going to be a tough race. Firstly I’m not strong at the 50K distance. Secondly, I heard it would be a super fast lead group, enticing me to go out with them at the start which would certainly increase the suck factor later in the race.

     Once the race started that is what exactly happened. The lead group consisting of Jakub Sumbera, Duncan Marsden, Francois Leboeuf, Tyson Smith, Andy Reed, Devin Featherstone and myself pushed the pace, which is easy to do on the first 26K. The first half of the course consists of rolling hills on a double track course. At the 10K mark I glanced at my GPS that read 40:20. Careful Dave, that’s a crazy fast start, so I decided to drop the pace and fall back of the now lead group of 3-

At finish line

4 guys. Still feeling comfortable I continued with my moderate pace knowing the course was going to get far more technical with bigger climbs in the second half. Curious to see how my pace was, I looked at my watch at 21K, 1:29:30!!! Shut the front door! Backing off my pace once again I found myself running a consistent pace going into leg 3 and the beginning of the technical single track. My body felt good addressing the rooty climbs and tricky descents. Upon completion of the third leg with only 12K left to go, I noticed Andy Reed about 1-2 minutes back. Knowing that he noticed me, he was going to pick up the pace to catch me. So I would have to do the same to make sure that didn’t happen. The fourth leg really left me hurting. When I left to do the fifth and final leg I saw Andy coming in from his fourth. Now only 1 minute up on Andy I had to somehow convince my exhausted and beaten body to have one final strong push. As tired as I felt and probably looked, Andy informed me after the race that he didn’t feel any better. The final leg was a suffer-fest but all the hurt disappeared quickly when I saw my three kids, wife and mom at the finish line. 

Adele, Sam, and Julia

My time was 4:19:27 which was good for a sixth place finish. As for all the crazy fast horses, Jakub Sumbera won and set a CR in a time of 3:45:39. WHAT?!? Duncan Marsden captured second in 3:52:28 and Francois Leboeuf snagged third in 3:54:18. Three runners all breaking the old CR held by Phil Villeneuve and all coming in under 4 hours!!!

Overall, the race went well for a 50K. Legs felt good, fueling was okay and venue was awesome. I would totally come back and do this race again…if they bumped it to 100K!

Lt: Me, Ctr: Jakub Sumbera, Rt: Duncan Marsden


5 thoughts on “Grizzly Ultra 50K

  1. Way to go Dave! That's an impressive feat you accomplished – and all those who did the solo. I did a relay with my teammate and we were well behind you! I only did legs 3-5 and I struggled so badly on legs 4 and 5, although I felt good on leg 3. Thanks for sharing and best wishes for the next season of running.

  2. Hey Dave!

    Found your blog. Will definitely pass it along to my Dad. Sharon did an excellent job making it “pretty”. See you at my next session!


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