Desert Solstice 24 hour

Beauty after the rain

Okay, okay, maybe I haven’t recovered from Doha. As I stood track side upon the 197K mark (491 laps) with a stabbing/burning pain in my right anterior lateral knee I looked upon my watch. It read 18hrs20min, that means all I needed to do was to run another 46K in 5hrs40min to break the Canadian 24hr record. My steady pace of 6-6:15min/km pace I was holding just before my leg blew was a very realistic goal I thought. Displaying positivity but feeling  frustrated I hobbled the remaining 9 laps to finish with a 200K day.

Wanna talk intimidating, how about lining up with 25 of the best 24 hour runners in North America to run as many 400 meter loops of a track as possible in one day, shit! Oh, and by the way, I’m a rookie. Either entirely arrogant or downright stupid, the gun rang and I moved along with the big names of the sport. I quickly fell into my “loosen up” pace and decided to shake things out for the first hour. The mood and energy amongst the volunteers, crews, and racers was electric. The second hour I slowed to my all day pace of 5:15min/km pace and found myself still moving faster than the majority in the group. At this point I had to question myself: was this either unrealistic or, if I do slow down am I once again selling

Misti, John, and Catherine

myself short, so I did what any rookie would do, I kept the pace. My fantastic crew members, John Hubbard, Misti Press Sayani, and Cathrine Deveau kept me on track with fueling. THANKS GUYS! My dietician Samara Feleski Hunt suggested fueling every 30 minutes transitioning between fructose and glucose such as apple sauce then syrup waffles, watermelon then mashed pumpkin. All the time drinking RE7 to fight the war on depletion especially with the crazy amounts of vitamins and minerals RE7 drink offers. This fueling strategy worked flawlessly and will be my mainstay moving forward. I brought my cowboy hat because the forecast was calling for a lot of rain but the rain seemed to halt one hour before the race start. Even though it was a cool day I thought it a good idea to wear the hat to keep the sun off my head. This brought on a big reaction from the other racers and volunteers, the only thing missing was a horse to ride into the sunset. Okay, okay, back to the race. Around the 9 hour mark a brief rain came down just enough to dampen our skin, this left us with the most beautiful double rainbow I’ve seen in years and you know what they say about rainbows: they

Photo from Ron Ceton

are good luck. Minutes after that, the race officials told me that I was the new overall leader. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR…this was not part of the plan! In all fairness, I did notice that some runners went out hard and yes many runners were stopped on the sidelines hurting but keeping track of who was in front of me was never a concern because lets face it, I’m a rookie hood rat. At this point something really cool happened. One of my long time running idols Joe Fejes was running on the track, as I passed him he had some very positive things to say about my performance so far. He mentioned I looked very smooth and in control, I told him I very much looked up to him. I ran away from that discussion with a hell of a lot more confidence. THANKS JOE!

At the Desert Solstice there are two races, the 100 mile and the 24 hour and I just found out around the 70 mile mark that I was in the lead. Two things crossed my mind, first, I’d really like to win the 100 mile and secondly to not go overboard with quickening your pace to arrive at the 100 mile mark and suffer after that. My goal going into this race was to run 24 hours the best I could. So I decided that no matter what pressures exist from behind, will stay in my comfortable zone. John Cash (the US national 24 hour champion) was quickly closing in on me. I asked John whenever he passed me how he was doing, he said all things were coming together and his day was settling in

Cool trophy with inflamed feet

nicely. Holy smokes that boy looked solid! It got awful close but I came through the 100 mile mark in first place in a time of 14hrs22min. ALRIGHT!!! After the feelings of elation passed I was left with the gross realization of the remaining task. I decided to take a couple minutes walk break to calculate what I needed to do from here on in. I walked a lap with my buddy Dennene Huntley and we discussed the race so far. We calculated all I need to do was to run another 82K in 9hrs36min to break the Canadian 24 hour record. I felt this was very doable.

As confident as I was at this point, there was a building concern I wasn’t disclosing to anyone maybe even hoping it would quietly go away on its own. My right anterior lateral knee was burning. It was a sensation I remember all to well about 10 years ago when I suffered Patellofemoral Syndrome.

The very best support crew

After walking the lap with Dennene I started running again but this felt laboured. My knee felt as if there was a rope grinding over a sharp jagged surface slightly fraying little by little.  Upon completing the 491 lap John handed me a cup of Coke, stopping long enough to drink it I took a stride and STAB! I’m pretty sure I yelled in pain. I hope it was something clever like “Kelly Clarkson”. John, Misti, and Catherine were on me like white on rice. The problem was, the longer I stood around the stiffer it’ll got. I tried running, another yelp rang out. I told them I needed to walk and by doing so maybe the the knee would loosen but I already knew this was the end of my day. I walked a lap, we taped my knee, put anti-inflammatory cream on, nothing was helping. So there I was at 492 laps in a lot of pain, funny thing is the qualifying time to make the Canadian team is 200K and I was only 3K shy. Shrunken and beaten I limped the final 8 laps to complete the 200K.

The negatives: There are none besides the fact I need to recover from whatever damage I sustained.

The positives: This was a major confidence boost! Before this race I questioned if I should even run in an event with runners of this caliber but now I know not only can I run with them but maybe, given the day, even in front of them.

photo from Israel the Runner

Big thank yous go out to my crew for sacrificing a weekend to support my odd habits. The wonderful Findlay family for accommodating and entertaining us all weekend, you really went above and beyond! John from RE7 for entertaining us and providing the tent and product at the race. My family back in Black Diamond for without your support none of this would be at all possible. Thanks to Gord’s Running Store and New Balance for your amazing support. Big thanks to the organizers at the Desert Solstice for putting on a top notch event. A special thanks to my mom and dad who came out and loudly gave there love and support all day and night. In fact, the most special moment of the race came at the 100 mile finish line when all I could hear coming from the group was my fathers voice yelling “That’s my boy!”

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