Survived my first trail race … Dirty Duo 25

dirtyduoStanding at the start line waiting for the start of the 25km Dirty Duo last Saturday, a thought crossed my mind ‘How the heck did I get here?’

Having been a road runner, a cyclist, and a sporadic triathlete for the last 13 years since arriving in Canada, I was about to experience my first ever trail race.  I hold my friend, Bob, totally responsible for this  – and I made sure he was signed up for the race (and for the Diez Vista 50, my ultimate goal) to experience my pain first hand.  For many years he has been trying to get me into trail running, but the thought of running on snow, tripping over roots, and falling generally, has always put me off.  However, last November, I ran out of excuses, and Bob dragged me out for an hour’s run in the trails close to Capilano Dam.  It was beautiful, and fun … and from that moment on, I was hooked.  In a moment of euphoria (I think the endorphins were kicking in by then), I decided to sign up for the Diez Vista 50.  There’s nothing like jumping in at the deep end, right?  I originally thought it was in the late summer so I would have 8 or 9 months to train, so finding out it was at the beginning of April was a little ‘wake up call’ but by then I had told everyone so there was no backing out!

The Dirty Duo was an obvious first race – and as a virgin trail runner, I really didn’t know what to expect.  First of all, the atmosphere at the start line is quite different to a road race.  In a road race, everyone is hyped up, nerves on edge, waiting for that surge forward when the gun sounds.  On Saturday, the start line was like a social club – everyone standing around chatting, relaxed.  The gun went off .. and oh, do we have to run now?

The route is quite technical apparently (according to seasoned trail runners) – but I love that!  I like the uphills and the downhills, jumping over the roots and rocks and into the occasional mudbath that you can’t avoid.  Once your feet are wet, there’s no point trying to skirt around the puddles – might as well go right through the middle.  The route is like an obstacle course, and fun .. although I have to admit the fun was wearing off a little from the 20km mark!

All the other racers were super friendly on the route, and looking out for each other in a way that you don’t see on road races.  The route is dual purpose as the race is for mountain bikers as well as runners, but this was much less chaotic than I imagined it would be.  With a little respect and consideration on both sides, it just seemed to work.  When the hills got steep, many people walked (often including the mountain bikers) – and that’s fine, I certainly didn’t feel bad about it (whereas in a road race, I would have felt guilty).  Homestead still fills me with awe, and I take my hat off to anyone who can run the whole thing.

Crossing the finish line was an achievement – I survived my first trail race!  I can’t say that I loved every minute of it, but I really enjoyed the experience.  It’s a great course, super well organized, and a nice bunch of people – from the racers, to the volunteers and the organizers.  Kudos to Mountain Madness for a job well done!

As for me, I’m a convert to trail running.  Really, what is there not to like about it?  You can’t beat the scenery – the forests, streams, mountains!  We are so lucky to have all of this magnificent scenery in our backyard!

Now the fear is setting in … I have to run double the distance in DV in a few weeks!  Wish me luck.


by Katie Idle



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