Wednesday, September 22, 2010

MitoCanada 100k Run

When Harrier Blaine Penny mentioned about a year ago that he was thinking of setting up a charity to raise awareness in relation to Mitochondrial disease, which his son Evan is unfortunately afflicted with, I was happy to volunteer some of my work mates to help him set it up. Of course, when it came to calling Blaine about a month ago to tell him that the charity had been set up, I was happy to take the glory on behalf of my work mates. And, I can only put it down to the fact that I was basking in glory that I rashly said, during that phone call, "now you`ve got a charity we`ll have to do something to raise funds". Someone mentioned the word "epic". I assume it was Blaine.

So it was with a sense of surrealism that I set off from Canmore at 3am last Saturday morning with 4 other guys in tights, wearing headlamps and heading off into the mountains for 100k of madness. I have no idea how Blaine pulled it all together so quickly but he managed it so quickly that I couldn`t come up with any excuses in time.

My group were all seasoned ultra-runners; Blaine is the Canadian 50 mile champion, Carly Pryce won the Lost Soul 100k ultra the week before (yes, the WEEK BEFORE), Ian Blanchard was a seasoned 100 mile racer and Rick Webb (whose son was filing a documentary) had just missed the North American 100k record a few years back. I, as a track runner who had done the odd marathon, knew I had both the right people with me and the wrong people. The right people to get me to the end, the wrong people if I wanted an easy ride.

There were three pods running; two of them set off at midnight and we set off at 3am. The young 20-something on a skateboard drinking a beer on his way home from the night club must have thought he was really drunk when confronted with us. The fog was thick but we soon climbed out of it and up the Spray Lakes road and by sunrise we had knocked off 40k. Ian, who brought McDonalds cheeseburgers as his fuelling food of choice, told us we were running above "hamburger pace" (the pace at which you can comfortably eat a hamburger). He said we were at "fries pace" instead.

At that point it got freezing but with food in us and a change of clothes we headed into the mountains ... and hit the snow. The next section of the route had us heading over Bueller Pass, Guinns Pass, down Galatea and then up the Terrace trail to Kananaskis village and then down to Ribbon Creek car park where we knew Carl's wife Rosie was waiting with "the mother of all aid stations". This was my favourite part of the trip. Plenty of running, some snow and amazing views. Thanks must go to the pods in front of us who broke trail for us!

By Ribbon Creek we were about 65k down. I was feeling good and ready for the next part. Only 35k to go and I was re-fuelled by the mother of all aid stations (it was true) and some company from the likes of Fewster and Draude. There were two possible routes; Skogan Pass and Mount Allan. The two other pods took Skogan Pass and enjoyed themselves immensely. We took the more challenging route. And it killed me. We climbed for hours in knee-deep snow and by the time we were spat back out 25k east of Canmore, I was spent. Carl and Blaine were still operating at pace but Ian and I were operating at "hamburger pace with fries effort". Not a pretty sight.

We finally arrived in Canmore at 8pm. Two hours late but with smiles all over our faces. And the best news? Nearly $30,000 raised for MitoCanada and some serious awareness happening.

Well done to everyone who ran. Donations are still open (see the last blog post) and spread the word. Next year I'm doing what the Ozzie Mitochondrial charity did - a "stay in bed for the day" event. Much more civilised!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Great article on Blaine and MitoCanada in the Calgary Herald blog pages. Link here.