Friday, June 5, 2015

2015 Vancouver 100

The weather forecast for this past Weekend was for clear skies and high temperatures. This years edition of the Vancouver100 had to be completed by Sunday at 4pm and with temperatures reaching 30 degrees over the weekend, Neil and I made the last minute decision to start early on Thursday morning when temps looked to be a bit more moderate and our work schedules presented a golden opportunity to go play on the trails! We had planned to do the V100 together as a great and perhaps unique way, to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary! We were married on June 9, 1990. How can 25 years go buy so quickly?  It just emphasizes that we all need to enjoy our journey, no matter what that may be.  

The event this year was open to various custom versions. We had already completed the distance in training runs but wanted to pull it together in one continuous outing. So with Thursday the chosen starting day, on Wednesday evening we dropped water/gatorade/iced tea and coke at various points along the route. Historically we have had the help of Wendy for crewing but with this being a last minute decision and it being a work day for most, we opted to be self sustaining out there.  

We prepared our food for the journey which consisted of pizza, sandwiches, soup, chips, nuts and a few sugary things. Knowing that we had fluid along the route was very reassuring as we filled our packs with food. We parked Neil's monster truck on Nancy Greene Way on the way to Grouse Mountain. This would be the midpoint of the 100 Km's and so a good spot to refuel and recharge.  

Pizza - awesome trail food! 
6:00am starter photo at Cleveland Dam. Go Team! 
The route follows the Baden Powell trail. 
Funny things one finds on a trail sometimes!  Handy though for tired legs! 
The trail climbs from Cleveland Dam all the way to the top of Black Mountain. It was cloudy and very humid. It was raining with humidity! 
Very humid! 
Waterfalls along the way. 
Climbing up Black Mountain from Cypress - the bugs were bad! I had sprayed my buff with bug spray to try to keep them away from my face. 
Nice views of the ski runs at Cypress. By this point I had drunk 3 bottles of Gatorade and 1 bottle of water and eaten a piece of pizza and half of a PBJ sandwhich. I knew that with the high humidity and the amount that I was sweating I needed to drink plenty and get the calories in. I kept my long sleeves on to protect my arms from the bugs. I react badly to the black flies that live in our local mountains during the summer months. We always carry Benadryl and an Epi Pen (x2) just in case. However, with Neil being a Veterinarian I know I am in good hands (Team Dodgy Joke!) ;-) 
We were pleased to arrive at the bluffs but disappointed by the normally spectacular views of Vancouver and beyond which this day, were obstructed by the mist. We descended Black Mountain to Nelson Canyon. It always seems to take longer than expected to get out to the turnaround point. We had a water/Gatorade drop here and I was so looking forward to it. As we did not have any crew on the journey, the bottles of liquid that we had stashed the night before became something to look forward to seeing! We quickly filled up our liquids and returned to the trail as really there was nothing to hang around Nelson Canyon for.  I was dreading the climb back up Black Mountain as it is a beast!  Sea level to 3992ft (1217m) in relatively short distance a real test for anyone and the seemingly vertical climb is legendary amongst those familiar with Vancouver's north shore. The last time Neil, Marla and I did the V100 together I thought I was going to have the big  banger! However, all hard achievements take a good effort and soon we were back on top of Black again thankful that the beast was behind us.
The Dogwood - British Columbia's official flower was in full bloom along the route. How nice! 
There was a detour where the former Holyburn Lodge was, plenty of construction in the area. 

Once back at Cleveland Dam we were looking forward to seeing Neil's monster truck that had all our refuelling supplies for the next 50km. The skies had cleared and the sun was low in the sky and hot! We were really feeling the heat. A quick change of shirts, socks and consumption of food items from the cooler and a restocking of Neil's pack (another Team Dodgy joke) and we were off for the next 50km's. 

When we approached Grouse Mountain the after work Grouse grinders were heading home. It became very apparent to me that I was covered in mud, bug spray, sunscreen and sweat and a few funny looks were focussed our way as we beat a speedy path back onto the Baden Powell trail. 

The sun set as we were just finishing traversing the Baden Powell across Grouse. This is a particularly knarly section that seems to be really eroding badly with no trail maintenance and an increasing amount of traffic that uses it.  It's a morass of tree roots ready to catch the toe of an unsuspecting trail runner. I think one can say that generally for the Baden Powell the trail erosion and general wear and tear are making it very technical. Anyway, it's not just tree roots that one needs to look out for!  Just as we arrived at Mosquito Creek,  we had an almost classic collision with a mountain biker who came flying down the trail in the dark without any lights on. I thought for sure it was a bear and let out a scream that probably woke the neighbours! Now that got me pumped for the dark! And dark it was...the skies were clear but when in the woods you only get glimpses of the sky. 

Here's a picture taken somewhere in the dark of night between Grouse and Cleveland Dam. On this section we had liquid dropped at Riverside Drive and Indian River Road. Those drops were becoming my best friend throughout the night. It felt really lonely out there - one effect of not doing it when the majority of people are doing the event. My new headlamp was awesome. I even had it on the medium setting as Neil commented it was too bright! Only downfall is that it is charged with a USB connection which generally aren't that common on the trails! If you can remember to charge it before you need it - all will be good! 

I was so thrilled to reach Deep Cove in the dead of night.  All was quiet as the cosy neighbourhood slept (lucky folk!) and the water of Indian Arm was almost translucent under the light of the Moon.  Again, Neil cracked the whip and we didn't linger long before heading out for the final 25km. It was a real challenge to get moving up the climb out of Deep Cove. I was surprised how I was struggling so much. Once up onto a flat section my body settled into it again and I was moving better. Neil did remind me that we had now completed 75 Km's of a tough course so I had every right to be tired!  Neil was complaining about his back and shoulders from "that pack".  I think his only solace was that he had free access to the potato chips of which I heard frequent munching as we tromped along in otherwise silence.  It got to the point during the final 25km that I couldn't remember what section was next! (Even though I had just been here a few hours earlier!) Neil had to keep reminding me what came next and provided estimates of time to the next major trail junction and finally, for the finish.  

The birds were really singing as the sun came up and it was uplifting to hear them joyfully welcome in a new day of bug catching! For us, it only meant that we were close to the finish! Once we arrived at Grouse the morning Grinders were now there. Weird.  I actually wondered if some of them were the same folk we saw the previous night?!  

There was no sprint to the finish for Neil and I. No large cheering crowd of well wishers waiting with a morning coffee and a Starbucks breakfast sandwich. Just an unassuming walk into Cleveland with the realization that we had completed the V100 and had truly celebrated our 25 years together in amazing fashion! 

Congratulations to all who participated in this awesome event! Thanks Craig for pulling it all together. It all worked out with many happy participants. The post event party was great - it was nice to see everyone and hear their tales of their journey. I think we are onto something special Craig with this "non event". 

Not many couples can say they did 100km together to celebrate 25 years of marriage. Thanks Neil for a great 25 years and for another journey together at V100. 

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