Sunday, 1 November 2015

Scouting Spruce Woods

Today I ventured outside Winnipeg for the first time to run & explore Spruce Woods Provincial Park.  We drove 2 hours, ran for 5.5 hours (with some breaks) and drove 2 more hours home.  Welcome to trail running in Manitoba!  The Spruce Woods Ultra happens May 6-7, 2016 and before I solidify my 2016 race plans, I thought I should scout out the place.

A few trail runners that I met at the Lemming Loop lived up to the reputation that many trail runners have - kind, generous, laid-back.  Todd and Maria graciously picked me up at 6:00am and drove me out to the park to meet several other "Turtles" there to run in the cool rainy morning.
Todd and the Turtles (aka Charlie & his angels)

A quote from the race website: " The Spruce Woods Ultra race is unlike any other event in the province. First, it’s tough. Although it’s a run in the park, it is unlike any other run in the park you’ve seen in Manitoba."  As we drove along Hwy 1 heading west of Portage la Prairie, I gazed out at the FLAT land and wondered how hard this run was really going to be.  I was told, "you have no idea what you are in for."
I found evergreen trees in Manitoba!

Well, they were right.  I was very surprised to find myself running up and down and up and down...over and over again.  It was an unrelenting series of short flats, 20 high cadence paces up, 5 long strides down, repeat.  Sometimes no flats in between.  All those short ups and downs started to take a toll about 20K into our 40K run.  I couldn't just lock into a pace and slug up a hill, nor could I relax and squeal with delight as I flew down a hill (except in one place).  Changing speeds and cadence continually was demanding.  We managed to log almost 2000' of gain over the 40K.  No west coast profile, but nice!

I have to give a shout out to Todd and Maria who both ran 10-15 miles more than they would have had I not been there - simply to ensure that I got what I came for and got a good look at the park.  You guys rock!  Now I know what type of run I'll be in for if I sign up for the Spruce Woods Ultra.  And how much recovery time to allow before the next race.  This one will demand respect.  Thanks for the great time everyone.  Always good running with you!

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