Wednesday, December 30, 2009

9 Ultras in 2009! 27 Ultras to Date.

Receiving the prize for 1st Place in My Age Category - BC Ultra Running Trail Series.

Dirty Duo - 50km
My first Ultra event in 2009. It is 2 loops of a 25km course in North Vancouver. The trails were covered in snow and it was a cold day. This race is the first in the BC Ultra Running Trail Series.(BCUTS)This was my second time completing the 2 loop, 50km course.

Chuckanutt - 50km - Bellingham, Washington
This course is a loop with the first 10km on flat packed gravel. The middle 30km has lots of uphill, downhill and MUD. There is a classic climb in this event called "Chin Scrapper" which it is very appropriately named. This was my 3rd time completing this event.

Diez Vista - 50km
a beautiful 50km on rugged west coast trails. This is the 2nd race in the BCUTS. This event was my very first ultra and I have now completed it 3 times.

Elk Beaver - 50km - Victoria
This event is loops of a 10km course around a lake in Victoria. It requires mental toughness to keep looping. Andy, Neil and I have participated in this a few years now and we enjoy the journey over on the ferry, the dinner with Carlos and other participants. This is the 3rd race in the BCUTS.

American River - 50 miles - Sacramento, California
This was a great weekend! Neil and I enjoyed our 3 days in the Sacramento area. The race follows the American River. The first part is a marathon on a paved bike trail. The second half is a marathon in the hills. It was the first event I have done where we were warned of poison oak and rattlesnakes. Beautiful weather - not too hot.

Scorched Sole - 50km - Kelowna
Andy, Neil and I made the road trip here the afternoon before the event. It was a beautiful warm evening in the Okanagan Valley. We found the best outdoor patio over looking Okanagan Lake for dinner. Andy did the 50 mile event and was winning up until the last few minutes until he took a wrong turn - ouch! Neil and I also found ourselves confused about the 50km route. It is the 4th race in the BCUTS.

West Highland Way - 95miles - Scotland.
This 95 mile race starts in the train station in Milngavie and follows the West Highland Way path to Fort William. It was my longest ultra to date, Neil has completed Western States and Tahoe Rim 100milers and H2H 100km - 5 times. We decided to do it together. His experience and calm nature really helped get me through as well as the crew of Charles, Graeme and Fiona. I did well except for the pain in my feet. Dario had warned me about this - a common complaint from those of us across the pond who run on softer surfaces. It was a fantastic event and we look forward to returning again this year. Shortly after the event Dario, the RD passed away. It was tragic news. He was the nicest, kindest person and he took a real interest in helping me complete the WHW. Without his help I may not have had the courage to start. Well we have signed up again!

STORMY - 50 mile - Squamish, BC.
This is a favourite event of mine! I have completed the 50 mile event 3 times now.
Wendy, the RD offers an early start which I prefer to take to relieve any time pressures throughout the day. There is a 100 mile event taking place at the same time so that adds a bit of excitement and I constantly tell myself to suck it up as I am only doing 1 loop of the 50km event when I come across the 100 mile runners. Another BCUTS race.

Walk in the Park - 54km - Kamloops, BC.
This is the second time I have completed this event. It is 3 loops of a very hilly course on sandy dry trails. The RD - Chris does a fantastic job of keeping this event to a nice number of people where we all know each other and he cooks you up a "hot dog" when you are done! This year Ian joined Neil and I for the middle of the night drive to Kamloops and returning home by 8pm. It's a full day but a fun one! Another BCUTS event.

Bagger Challenge
No Ultra distances here but worth a mention for a highlight of 2009. I bagged 16 Peaks over 3,000 feet in Sept/October.

Oh and I must mention under taking the Masters of Science Degree at Simon Fraser University - and trying to find the balance with work, play and school. Looking forward to another year of great challenges and lots of fun accomplishing them - even the upcoming Statistics Class ;-)


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Outings!

Neil and Graeme - Steelhead Falls, Hayward Lake.

Shannon Falls, Whistler

The Tantalus Range, Whistler

Golden Ears with Fog Blanketing the Fraser Valley

Graeme in the woods behind our house with the sunlight breaking through.

The calm waters at Hayward Lake.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas in Canada

href=""> Merry Christmas! Graeme and Fiona arrived - although a day later than planned due to weather delays. Having great weather here in Vancouver that is allowing us to get around. (unlike the UK and unlike here last year). Neil and I were in Britain last year during the snow storm that locked down Vancouver - this year we are here and the storm is in the UK. That was good planning! :-) We have taken Graeme on a few of our favourite local runs. On the 23rd we travelled from sea to sky. We ventured to Bowen Island and then went up Grouse Mtn for snow shoeing and dinner at the Peak of Vancouver. A beautiful Canadian Christmas outing! We enjoyed hosting Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with family. Today we set off early for a day drip to Whistler. Enjoy the clips and photos!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Weekend Before Christmas!

Neil on the trail behind our house!

Kitty enjoying the Christmas flowers!

Tonight Graeme and Fiona from Scotland (via Florida) were to arrive. There has been a large snow storm in the East that has impacted their flights. They are staying over in Denver Colorado and are flying on the first flight to Vancouver in the AM. We are excited about hosting Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and a friends party on Jan 2nd. Although we were having some regrets that we are not Christmas shopping in London and we were not participating in the Carnethy Pub Run or having Christmas with Charles, Jane, Jack and Ian it does feel good to be home for the first time in several years now. Today we were out on the trails that are right behind our house up Thornhill. Merry Christmas to All! Cheers!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Let It Snow!

Christmas Lights on our Trees.

The Tree in the Back Garden.

The final exam is over, the final paper is in! Time to enjoy the season! The snow is falling throughout the Vancouver area. Some parts of Canada have been hit with extreme snow falls and cold temperatures. Today on the weather channel I heard that Edmonton Alberta was the coldest place on earth today at minus 50 degrees! Wow, Vancouver is feeling balmy at minus 5. Our Saturday and Sunday runs were so beautiful with a light dusting of snow on the trails. The forecast is for heavy snow Mon night so we have stocked up on supplies just in case we get snowed in! Graeme and Fiona arrive next weekend..,it would be great if the weather holds and they can experience a White Canadian Christmas.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Frosty Morning!

Marla and I enjoying the run!

Marla, myself and Chad with the Golden Ears Range behind.

Today Neil and I met up with Chad and Marla for a run at the local UBC Research forest. It consists of trails and forest roads. We did an out and back for just under 2 hours on a very scenic forest road. The trees were coated in heavy frost, the skies very blue, our first run this year in minus temperatures. The gloves, WHW buff and jacket stayed on for the entire run which always is an indicator for me how cold it was. On our return Chad noticed something strange off trail, we investigated and it appeared to be a an experimental natural water filtering station. Like I mentioned the forest is owned by the University of BC and there are student projects throughout the woods! Speaking of students, Marla is also a student at Simon Fraser University. She has taken a leave from her work to under take an undergraduate degree. We were able to share our relief of the semester coming to a close. I am feeling saturated with the Qualitative Research and Survey Methods class! 2 assignments due this week and the final exam is on Thursday. Neil's brother Graeme, and his wife Fiona, are on their way from the south shores of Loch Ness to join us for a Canadian Christmas but first they are off for some sun in Florida!

Monday, November 30, 2009

We Are In!!

Today we received emails from StanB informing Neil and I that we are in the 2010 West Highland Way Race! I am perhaps feeling similar emotions as all entrants...Fantastic!...good timing for a goal for 2010...95 miles is a long way...I better figure out how to tape my feet...what will the training plan many days should we arrive in Scotland prior to the race...what about long will we stay post race...

And the biggest thought of all...I really would like Neil to run his own race this year. He stayed with me last year to help me through my first 100 miler (well almost!) It was a team/family effort and we did it! I am concerned about getting lost for the first bit before the support runner can join in...maybe I will find a runner with a similar pace to run with...this also means 2 crews.

This news comes at a great time. I have been immersed in my student assignments and upcoming final exam and a big reorganization in the work place.

WHW...2010...our Olympic Event!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lost in Pacific Spirit Park!

A myriad of trails!

One of the many trail options!

The "Start".

Kitty enjoying the fire at home!!

After a busy week and both Neil and Kitty coming home on Friday (Neil was in Alberta - Kitty has spent the last week at the Veterinary Hospital) it was a bit chaotic trying to get out the door at an early hour. We were heading out to Pacific Spirit Park at the University of BC to join up for a flash event with Club Fat Ass. A few crazies were planning to do a 100 miles on a 10km loop in this park. Neil and I attended this event last year and were so impressed with the plentiful and beautiful running trails in the park. We anticipated several paces and runners coming and going throughout the day to keep the 100 mile runners company. A very informal just "come out and run event". We arrived a few minutes after 9AM but missed the official start time. We set off with no directions or map - forgot to print off the details of the 10 km route they were all running. No worries - we will recall it from last year we said. ;-) The trails were covered in Maple leaves and puddles after all the rain we have had in the last few days. It was raining lightly -then heavily - then torrential (should have brought my hat!) To cut to the chase - we ended up being completely off the 10km loop and think that we ran most of the trails in the park by the time we were done! We were totally surprised that we could be out there running the trails for 3 hours and not run into another person in this event! We must have gone terribly wrong! We finally (I did) ask someone for directions and the dear lady sent us in the direction of our car. About 15 minutes from the car we ran into a group participating in the outing. Tim, Wendy, Sibylle, and Lori. It felt great to see others out there! Amazing how you can be on a network of trails and never run into each other. It was an awesome run and wow could I feel my hamstrings from the continuous stride in the cold - just a couple of degrees above zero. As I write this from the comfort of my couch with the fire glowing, the wine poured (in my WHW goblet), Heartbeat on TV - the sound of the heavy rain hits the roof...those going for the 100 miles today are still out there! My feet hurt thinking about them. Hope they are well bundled up. Record snowfall at Whistler for this time of year (507cm of snow) and on our local ski mountains - very exciting to have a good snow base for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics now less than 3 months away!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Club Fat Ass - Go Deep!

Today Neil and I joined up with Club Fat Ass for the run "Go Deep". Cheryl a long time running friend is the host of this event so we always make an effort to participate in it. It was great to have a run with both Cheryl and Rhonda. Good conversation on the out and back and great to catch up with their lives. One of those classic outings of special people, good conversation and some good exercise! The run starts in Deep Cove in North Vancouver and does a steep climb for a long way - we ran into our first snowfall of the season! Today we only had a couple of hours so we cut the run short and do what the Fat Ass Club calls a "custom" - we did 2 hours. Our cat Kitty (who is in his 20th year!) has been diagnosed with Pancreatitis. He was not a happy cat and Neil took him to the small animal Veterinarian on Thursday. He has been hospitalized since then. Neil said to Kitty tonight when we were visiting him - staying over in the animal hospital is just like being at camp! Fortunately, the treatments seem to be working so hopefully Kitty will return home soon! Flood warnings issued for the next few days due to the snowfall in the mountains and high rainfall predicted for the next few days!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Crewing for A 100km Road Run - Haney to Harrison!

Today Neil and I had the pleasure of crewing our local 100km road race - Haney to Harrison for Andy Bachmann. It was Andy's 5th consecutive year he has participated in this event. As all you Ultra Runners out there know...100km on the road - Nasty!! It is Canada's National 100km Road Championship. Last year Andy finished 2nd in this event. He has many top ultra finishes in his accomplishments. Last week when we were in Calgary I emailed Andy...are you doing the 100km road event?...the entry closes in 4 hours! He signed up. Neil has completed this event 5 years in a row and decided to take this year off from it. Andy wanted to do the same...5 years consecutively! This event is well known for the weather. When you sign up - you sign up for wet, wet, wet! Today it lived up to it's reputation! Enjoy the Video Clips that capture the highlights of the day and the demanding funny moments of crewing for an Ultra Runner! Well done Andy...ouch! 9hrs 48mins. Amazing for a guy who likes to ride his bike and only did 2 road runs in training for this beast! Of course I can not mention Andy's achievements without highlighting his most incredible support Anke and their 5 children. Andy and Anke also run a dairy every time I have a moment when I think oh...I'm busy...can't run for a few days...I think of the Bachmannn's and all that they accomplish and I get myself out there!

Instructions from the runner at the start...ALL BETS ARE OFF IF IT RAINS! :) It poured rain all day ! 5 degrees and Windy!

At about 3-4 hours in...Andy wants Licorice and Coke! Neil forgot to turn off the video and he questions? Did he say Licorice...that's a first! Thankfully we found the Licorice in his supplies!

A Classic...a request for coffee with cream at the finish line!He had completed aprox 92km at this point with 8 km to go

Thankfully we found a place that had coffee! Congratulations Andy...Welcome to the H2H 100km 5 Year Consecutive Club! Amazing!

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Today was October 31st - HALLOWEEN! Where those who are inclined get dressed up in their favourite costume and Trick or Treat or attend parties! We had a few party options but chose to stay home tonight. We had been in Calgary Wed - Friday where I was speaking at a Public Health Conference. Unfortunately I came down with H1N1 earlier in the week with thankfully fairly mild symptoms of a cough, tiredness, and shivers. I missed one day of work but really wanted to make my speaking engagement. Neil came along as he has clients in the Calgary area. It was cold in Calgary but we did get out for a run Thursday evening on a bike trail along the freeway. The prairie provinces are always interesting to visit - usually the weather dominates the interest! We arrived in Vancouver last night to a horrendous rain storm to drive home in. Overnight the skies cleared and we had a beautiful run on a local trail for a couple of hours, the Maple Trees are looking bountiful in colour and the trails are covered in the fallen leaves. Another highlight this week was the lighting of the Olympic Torch with the Vancouver Officials in Greece and the torch was flown to Victoria for the start of the Torch Relay which will travel throughout communities across Canada. Olympic Fever is here! (or is it H1N1?) Today Neil and I submitted our entries to the West Highland Way Race...WOW!Exciting! A great goal for 2010! A new procedure is in place so we will wait and see the outcome! HAPPY HALLOWEEN! And a bonus extra hour of sleep for us tonight as we "Fall" back our clocks!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Baggers Banquet!

Ken Legg the Winner of the Bagger Challenge! David Presenting the "Squashed" Quaich to Ean for 2nd Place! Neil having a Sip from the Quaich! Wendy and I tied...But I did a few "extra" Peaks! A Toast to "The Baguettes"
The Cake with the Map and Rescue Helicopters.

Friday night after work we headed off for the Baggers Banquet. Neil had arranged a hotel for us to stay in as it was over an hour drive back home and we were anticipating the potential for a late night. The party was hosted by David and Julia who live in North Vancouver the creators of the Bagger Challenge. We were no sooner onto the Freeway when the traffic came to a halt. The traffic was blocked all the way to North Vancouver. We were an hour and a half late but did arrive just in time to eat! Excellent food and sharing of Bagger outings. Great to catch up with fellow Baggers who had accomplished some great challenges. David did the ceremonial prize giving of the Quaich to the overall winner Ken Legg. Good work Ken...41 out of 44 Peaks! There was another Quaich to give away - the original one that arrived in the post from Scotland - the base squashed - the lop sided Quaich! David managed to get another one delivered (in a box this time) for presentation to Ken. The winner of the squashed Quaich was Ean Jackson who placed second and showed great spirit of competition throughout the challenge. Ean and David were also presented with a few gifts that resembled "Rescue Helicopters" to remind them of their early morning lift to work! The lady Baggers the "Baguettes" were celebrated with a toast in the Quaich. The cake was brilliant - a map of all the Peaks in the competition with a "helicopter" strategically placed! Eric (Ean and Sibylle's son) won the "bag" that Neil donated as a prize. A great night...and a great Bagger Challenge! Wow did I sleep well for a solid 8 hours! Neil and I went to the LSCR which was very close to the hotel and did a 2 hour road run which felt so good! No maps, no route finding, no rock faces to scramble over...just me and my iPOD working the road!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The South Needle - the Last of the Bagger Challenge!

Where the trail head starts.

Heading Up!

Climbing Over!

Making our own trail down!

The Top!

Today Neil and I met up with Wendy Montgomery at the Gazebo (the location of the former Gazebo - it was demolished in the snow this winter!) in LSCR with our bikes to ride 5km to Hydraulic Creek where the trail head is located for the climb up the South Needle (1163m). It was a misty day but no heavy rain like yesterday. We found the trail head and then stashed our bikes in the bush. The climb went straight up. It was very dense forest with "needles" covering the trail. There were many fallen decaying trees along the trail that we managed to maneuver over. It was a steady steep climb for aprox 1hr:45minutes. I needed my hands to pull myself up several times. Wendy and I bush whacked a few times to avoid the wet exposed slippery rocks. Those little blueberry bushes are quite strong - they must have deep roots as I choked many of them today on the way up and down! There were some sections today that had a very steep drop off. Ean described it as a kilometer drop without a bounce! Today the fog disguised the steep drops which really helped Wendy and I. I'm sure if we could have seen what was below us we would not have been happy climbers! Coming down was not as slippery as I had anticipated when we were going up. I kept thinking this is going to be terrible going down but the thick "needles" really helped prevent severe slipping. When in doubt Wendy and I just go down on our butts and slide! This is a technique we have used on a few descents now! Round trip back to the Gazebo approximately 4 hours. A great way to end the Bagger Challenge for us. The weather forecast is for a few good days this week but Neil and I have a full slate at work and can't get away - unlike a few other Baggers we know! Bagger Challenge wrap up party and prize giving is Friday night!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Today Neil and I participated in a 30km run in Chilliwack around Cultus Lake. When the alarm went it was pouring in rain...we were tempted to not get up and go but we did get our butts up and going! It was just the 2 of us in the car - Andy had commitments with his family today. We arrived at Cultus Lake and it was still pouring in rain. Checked in - nice sweatshirt! The temperature was quite warm @ 14 degrees C so I decided to run with a short sleeve shirt and just arm warmers to start. The start was delayed by about 20 minutes - people were still checking in. During this delay a runner comes up to Neil and says "hi you remember me?" It was a guy who was in a Physics class Neil was in when doing his Pre-Veterinary requirements. Wow that was a few years back and oh so cool they remembered each other! Despite the start delay the race was very well organized with plenty of volunteers and 4 aid stations. We were warned of the mud out there on the there was mud! I found myself running high in the bush to avoid the trails - I was slow in this stuff but I was having fun! I could hear a group of females behind me who were doing the relay screaming and laughing throughout this section! (you could do the 30km as a team!) The puddles were really deep - up to our shins. I'm not that good when the conditions get slippery but I pushed through and did not wipe out despite seeing others with mud wounds! I forgot how the second half is up-up-up! On this section we came upon a runner with his iPOD cranked absolutely singing at the top of his lungs and very poorly! We were climbing some hills and he was behind me...I couldn't stand it any longer and stopped and asked him to not sing out loud! He was annoyed with me and charged by me...I caught him later! :) He was still singing way too loud! (a bit disrespectful to those around him!) Thankfully the temperature was mild or else we could have faced really cold feet and hypothermia with being so very soaked! The skies have cleared and the plan is to bag our final Peak in the Bagger Challenge tomorrow in Lynn Valley - the South Needle.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Day Full of Bagging!

The Lions from the start of the Howe Sound Crest Trail The view from St. Marks Mountain - Bowen Island below - our friends Marilyn and Ron are on the ferry to the island (to climb Mt. Gardner) - the white dot is the ferry. The top of Little Goat - Pacific Ocean below. Crown Mountain and Camel Mountain The Needles with the Seymour Range in the background. Neil on our way to Goat Mountain Almost down, the Capilano Reservoir below.

Today we set off early to Cypress to venture along the Howe Sound Crest Trail to bag a couple of Peaks. It was a cold morning the temperature was at zero as we set off. We had never been on this portion of the Howe Sound Crest Trail - we really enjoyed it and the occasional views of Howe Sound and the islands below. We came upon St. Marks Peak sooner than we thought. Incredible views from here at 4,450 feet. Since we had made such good time we decided to carry on to Unnecessary Peak. The trail steeply descended - it was in the shade and covered with ice. Yikes! After some of the scary moments yesterday I felt really frightened about going down this icy section. I convince Neil that I am turning around but being the stubborn Scot that he is he carried on to Unnecessary. The plan was that I will head back on the Howe Sound Crest Trail with a group we had just met up with that were only going as far as St. Marks. I was worried for Neil but he is much better on the ice and snow than I. The jingle "know your limits, stay within it" was running through my head. I think it is an advertisement for alcohol consumption but it seemed suitable to support my decision to not carry on to Unnecessary. I set off with the group of strangers back to return to Cypress. They were walkers and the pace was a bit slow so I carried on down the trail by myself. Lots of hikers out this Thanksgiving weekend but I didn't see any other Baggers! I was back at the car, had a coffee in the lodge and I see Neil approaching down the slope. Great timing - let's go to Grouse to bag a few in there. He said I wouldn't have liked the trail to Unnecessary especially since it was icy! We arrive at Grouse Mtn which is buzzing with people. Up the Skyride we go and head out to climb Dam, Little Goat and Goat Mountain. They were all so close together. Unfortunately it was getting later in the day and many spots were covered in ice. These lower temperatures add an entire new dimension to the climbing! At one point we lost the trail at the top of Little Goat as it was snow covered. Spectacular views and fantastic to see all the peaks we have climbed recently. A great day out bagging - a great weekend of bagging! We should really stay home tomorrow - chores and school work are calling...hmmm...