Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Canadian Death Race

They don’t call it the DEATH RACE for nothing! It was unbelievably hard – I have never seen ups and downs quite like this.

CDR in perspective

Here are some pictures at  the start of the race.

before the start

             race start          leg 1

Description of Leg 1 and what gear I carried:

Approximately 6 km of pavement initially, followed by trail and 3.5 km of gravel road. It includes a net elevation loss of 500 feet, rolling hills with flat sections, several creek crossings and one significant downhill. The course will start in downtown Grande Cache and the race officially begins at the 5 km mark, after passing the Grande Cache Saddle club. It then continues past Grande Cache Lake and Peavine Lake, mainly on quad trails and including a section along a ridge with a spectacular view of Peavine Lake and the mountains of Willmore Wilderness Park. After crossing Washy Creek and skirting the north end of the CN rail yard through a deep mud bog, enter the first full aid station and relay exchange zone. Cut off Time: 12 Noon

Wore fuel belt, arm warmers, applied body glide, sunscreen and bug repellent. Wore my Salamon with the “Dirty Girl” Gaiters – got lots of great comments on those! gaiters

 Expected finish time: 2hrs15min: Actual finish time:  2:07 


Leg 2: 27 km: Flood & Grande Mountain Slugfest
Includes about .1 km of pavement. The rest is dirt trail with rocky and swampy sections, and approximately 6 km of hard packed dirt road. Net elevation gain is 500 feet, but the total elevation change is well over 6000 feet. This leg of the race is characterized by long sustained climbing with about 3 km of very rough terrain and two creek crossings. The trail from the summit of Flood Mountain to the summit of Grande Mountain is the roughest piece of trail in the Death Race. The power line down the front of Grande Mountain leading back into town is the most dangerous part of the entire course. This is due to the steep, rocky drop-offs and unstable footing while running downhill. The Slugfest is the most technical section and is rated the second hardest leg of the Death Race (although many rate this leg as the hardest of all). Cut off Time: 5:30 pm.

Exchange fuel belt for the hydration pack

Poles,  Hydration pack included the following:

  • Full bladder (regular gatorade and package of GU endurance)
  • Two bottles in front (water)
  • Cliff shock blocks
  • Granola bar
  • Toasted cheese bagel
  • Baggie with advil, pad, salt tablet, bandaids
  • Jacket
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Bear bell

Here I am getting ready to start leg 2.

starting leg 2






Expected finish time: 4hrs30minutes (2:45pm) : Actual time about 7 hours (5:15 pm)

Leg 3: 19 km: Old Mine Road (or “City Slicker Valley”)
Includes 5 km of pavement: the rest is dirt road with several creek crossings. One creek runs right down the trail as you descend the first part of the Mine Road, making for very slippery, rocky terrain for 30 meters. This section passes through the lowest point in the race, hitting the very bottom of the Smoky River valley floor, with knee deep water for 25 meters. (If it’s a wet summer, it’s worse.) With a net elevation loss of about 1000 feet, this section is the fastest and easiest of the race and one of the most beautiful, offering stunning views of the Smoky River valley. Cut off Time: 7 pm:  11 hours from the start time.

Drop of poles, restock the hydration pack and put on my regular running shoes.

Unfortunately my day ended at 60km as I did not make the cut-off time after leg three. I knew after leg two I wouldn’t make it, but I didn’t want to quit then. I wanted to see how far I could go before being told I could go no further.

This was by far the hardest run I have ever done. Leg 1 and 3 were doable, but leg 2 (27km) which was the hardest and went over 2 mountains was so difficult. There was hardly any running I could do as the ups were too steep and the downs were so steep I actually went down on my bum at times. The picture gives an idea of what we were doing.  This is a picture one of the other racers (Addison Hagan) took of the descent down the power line.  Then right in front of us was another uphill (just like the downhill we had just done)…..brutal!!

going down powerline

Likely due to the heat and not getting enough electrolytes, even though I had them in my drinks, I started to cramp.  I have never cramped in a race before  and I have never taken salt pills, but all of a sudden in  leg two my inner thighs started cramping (one leg at a time) and it just stopped me in my tracks! I literally couldn’t move. Fortunately I had salt with me and as soon as I took a few of them the pain magically disappeared…amazing!

Even though this is the first time I haven’t finished a race I am happy with my day as I got to the start line injury free and well trained. There was just no way I could have been prepared for these mountains – while lake placid training was good it just wasn’t hard enough. The  heat was a huge factor in terms of slowness and cramping as well was around 30 degrees – even in the mountains.

At the end of the day, I was still smiling!

end of leg 3