It's almost that time of year again - a bittersweet time. It's almost end of ski season - and nearing the legendary Snow to Surf Race.
Many of you that read this blog will know what this race is about. Many of you will have participated in one leg or the other. And if you're smart - you've never done the run leg. I have had the honour to do this race 2 times in my lifetime so far, and I guarantee I'll have done it 20+ times by the time I'm too old to do any of the legs of the race. I was even part of the "Turf to Surf" one year, and the other the 25th Anniversary race - both superb!
If you have NEVER heard of this race (where have you been hiding?!), let me summarize. My last time in the race was done as a 'missing members' (not a full squad so some people had to do 2 legs of the race) and was done as a family team - so we were very proud of our day at Snow to Surf - and unbelievably - we won our category! This by far was one of the best races I've ever done on Vancouver Island. And the chocolate medals from Courtenay's Hot Chocolates are amazing!
Here is how it starts. Someone who wants to feel a complete & utter absolute burning of the legs tears up hill in ski boots (how far - far enough to wish you had signed up for the run leg) and then whips down the mountain while trying to feel any sense of legs underneath them. Then, the relay is passed onto a XC skier - this is where I feel the race really shines in it's elite bank of XC skiers. So, you're likely to be passed by men & women much older (& smaller) than you. It's ok - you have many stages to go! Our friend and ex olympian swimmer took on both those legs - like a fish out of water he was (he learned to XC ski the day before), but such a good sport.
Next up, I now hear, is a snowshoe relay to replace one of the run legs. Smart move, Mt Washington. What a great idea to showcase the sport - of which there are races hosted up on Mt Washington, so it's guaranteed to bring some speedsters to that leg.
After that - it's the dreaded run leg. I think it's best reserved for someone that has never done it and considers themselves a good runner. And they will do well - no doubt. They will just wonder why they can't reach the toilet without climbing their hands down the walls beside it after. Pain is temporary - pride is forever! (Ironically getting to the toilet is all pain, no pride, however). Now when we did the race, it was a double run leg, of 17km straight down the mountain, and that was my double segment. Great at the time, and then I couldn't face running downhill for a month afterwards. (Also, see toilet commentary).
Onward, you pass to the mountain biker. It sounds like a heck of a lot of fun - I want to do that someday! From mountain biker to kayaker is a flurry of transitions and off across the lake goes your teammate (in my case, my brother did the double mountain bike-kayak combo - which was a little tricky as he beat us with his mountain bike before we got the kayak to the lake (there are logistics in this race beyond the athletic - which I suppose means we were big on muscle, short on brains). So, after him tromping around in a fury that his kayak wasn't there - we carried it into the water while he jumped in and madly paddled across the lake. Making him mad made him paddle faster, so it was actually a good tactic.
Next up - the road bike. This my (now) husband did with style. My brother & I, along with the ex-olympian, could be called 'ridiculously competitive'. So as we were yelling profanities to said (now) husband, he bravely tromped on with the bike course. Now, unfortunately, he did have a crash with someone part way through - the only damage being the woman involved in said crash was more concerned her bike was ok than she was - and obviously she was fine, as she zoomed past my husband and chicked him to the high hills.
From the bike finish, comes the final transition to the canoe leg. This my Dad & his partner participated in. To set up the 'seriousness' scale of the canoe participants, my Dad did ask the race director if he could take his dog in the canoe with him (director: "no"). So you get a sense of the juxtaposition of competitiveness here. I'm not sure if they packed a picnic for the paddle or not.
In any case, as we sped (unnecessarily really) to the finish line, Shawn (husband) rode on and cheered (actually he yelled at them to pick up the pace) the canoeists along the bay shore. As my Dad & Linda approached, I have a fond memory of one of the 'serious' canoe boats (wrapped up so no water would get in and all muscle & grit upon their faces) just passed our boat happily paddling away (probably looking at birds) only to dump meters before the finish line. Suckers. Not that I'm competitive or anything.
Finally, a race up and out of the boat went Linda, as we watched her run past the finish bell (you must ring it) completely, and she ran on through the parking lot to who knows where. Well, Linda knew where, as she had done this race 25 years ago (it was the 25th anniversary), and the bell was further back in the lot then. But, turned around she came back & rang the bell as it tolls, and we had completed our mission.
A long story, but a fun one. I could relive this race a thousand times and end up in tears of laughter remembering parts along the way (except the end of my legs after the run, that is just straight tears, no laughter). So I highly encourage you to participate, watch, support, drive the gear around, or just come down to the finish line & hang out in the after-party area to hear such stories of tenacity & hilarity.
I can't wait to do it again, and although it will have to wait for me this year, it won't for next year - so it's time to start planning my team!
Anyone want to do the run leg?