Tuesday, June 21, 2011

100 Miles of Magic

By Aaron Swanson
Photo Courtesy of Natalie Swanson
100 miles, 10 guys, 1 relay race. This weekend is the epic Kananaskis 100 mile (K100) relay race that goes up and over Highwood Pass in the Rocky Mountains. Its not actually 100 miles long but K100 sounds way better than K97.8. The race starts at roughly 1260m in elevation in Longview and peaks at 2206m on top of Canada’s highest engineered road before making the massive descent into the Nakiska ski area. I think most people would agree, the race is in a world class setting and in one of the best races out there.

This is my second year running the event as part of the Centaur Subaru Bow Valley Harriers team. While we placed 2nd last year, I think we still hold the title for the longest team name. We had a tight battle for second place but lagged first by roughly 25 mins. It would be great if we could close that gap and make those first place guys work a little harder. Overall, I think our team is much fitter than 2010 (not to mention we convinced one of Canada’s best steeplechasers to join our team) so this could turn out to be a very interesting battle.

The race starts in Longview, and as mentioned goes up and over the Highwood pass to finish at the Nakiska ski hill roughly 9.5 hours later. I have the pleasure of running leg 3 which is just before the course starts to get scary with leg 4 and the final push up the pass in leg 5. Legs 4 and 5 combine for roughly 700m in elevation gain in a little over 30km. Despite leg 5 being the notoriously brutal leg, I personally would rather take it down than face leg 6 which screams straight downhill (elevation loss of 340m) for 9.4km and has the potential to ruin your legs for a solid week. Check out the elevation profiles from legs 5 and 6:

Here is our plan of attack:

Leg 1 (18.6km) – Travis Cummings
Leg 2 (16.5km) – Blaine Penny
Leg 3 (14.7km) – Aaron Swanson
Leg 4 (14.1km) – Duncan Marsden
Leg 5 (17.6km) – Ken Myers
Leg 6 (9.4km) – Nick Haddow
Leg 7 (16.5km) – Jody Draude
Leg 8 (15.9km) – Jeremy Deere
Leg 9 (12.5km) – Joel Bourgeois
Leg 10 (18 km) – Scott Jensen

I should point out there will be a little bit of a Swanson battle taking place on the course as my dad is slated to run the same leg as me. Given the staggered start times (his team starts at 7am, we start at 8am) I doubt I will catch him, but that would have been pretty sweet.

Being a runner, it’s not very often we get the chance to compete in a team event like this. I find team events tend to bring the best out in people, as Blaine put it last year, ”letting yourself down is acceptable, letting 9 other people down is not.”

Buckle up, its go time.

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