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Milton, Ontario, Canada

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sulphur Springs 25k Trail Race Report!


That photo pretty much says it all! On Saturday, May 24th, I headed out to Ancaster Ontario and the lovely Dundas Valley Conservation Area to join Bridgett, Emma and Sam to run the 25k portion of the Sulphur Springs trail race series. There were also 10k, 50k, 50mi (which Robin ran) and 100mi. Before this race, I had run trails all of once.

I can say with all kinds of surety, that this will not be my last day on the trails.

This race report will be like no other because there were no markers, no real accurate GPS, nothing but laughs and good times and hills and mud.

Bridgett and I headed out from Milton at 5:30 am, stopped at Tim Horton's Drive Thru for breakfast and coffee and were at the start area by about 6:20. Had I known we'd be so close to the start of the bigger races, I would have left earlier so we could have seen Robin off. We parked and wandered over to the tent to get our bibs and tech shirts (I like the orange!) and then hit the porta-potties. Back to the car and we sat in it for about 15 minutes waiting to hear from Emma and Sam and trying to stay warm.

Before long, we met up with the girls (and Kim who was running the 10k) and made our way to the start... behind the woman on the ladder! I was loving the casual atmosphere and the general feel of everything. We warmed up significantly while waiting 5 minutes for the race to start so we all dumped our long sleeved tops on Kim (second from right), who's race started later. I set the right tone for myself by wearing, "I run so I can drink" Bondi Band.

WooHoo! Waking up at 5 is worth it. For NATURE.
Bridgett, Me, Sam, Kim, Emma.
Then, the group surged forward and "We're starting? Like, should I just hit my watch? There's no mats? I guess its all gun time, eh?" You could tell my road-runner status by these comments but I immediately went into fun mode and went with the flow which was directly downhill. WHEE!! Sam tried to kill our buzz by saying something about running UP this hill another three times but we stopped listening to her, "Been there, done that last year" wisdom. I looked at my watch to find I was was running 10km/hr.


Turns out my watch was in bike mode. Whoops! I switched it over but didn't turn off Auto-Pause which turned out to provide some additional moments of levity in the race as during big climbs, my watch would often auto pause even though we were clearly moving... just vertically.

The route is not too technical and we were enjoying ourselves and the views. We hit a few muddy areas and some wet and muddy grass but nothing that we couldn't handle. There were jokes about all matter of things and I must admit, I got made fun of a bit during some of the more technical or uphill parts ("how's that 6min/km plan going for you, Nicole?") and we wondered how 97 previous road race Kenny would do in his first trail race (spoiler: like me, he fell in love). Of course every yellow bib that we saw, we looked for Robin, but we never did see her.

The aid stations were awesome and another thing I enjoyed. We weren't running to break records, so we took our time to pee (though I didn't need to) and eat the licorice fruit and drink coke refill our water bottles. I swear to God, I'll run trails again just for the food. Coming through the start at the end of our 5k initial loop was fun and rilled us up to go out again.

Sam's still with me, but hasn't discovered her #runnerd
Out for the last 20k it was more of the same. Jokes. Hills. "Walkies." Mud. Laughs. Bridgett trying to pull some experienced trail runner move over a log into a pit of mud only to almost end up with her lulu top as much of a write off as our shoes.

And there was pure enjoyment.

Imma just gonna sneak up on this #runnerd

Girls! I'm taking a photo! Pretend to run up this hill!

We are available for promotional campaigns for running skirts, compression socks and tampons.
And yogurt (because yogurt ads never make sense anyway).
In the last three kilometers or so, Sam and Bridgett ended up getting ahead of Emma and I and we declined to give chase. They were within their rights to get away from a man with a breathing pattern that sounded like a freight train and another man who hadn't showered since Christmas. Both of these guys passed Emma and I and its not like we were itching to give chase and hang with either of them. That and the fact that neither of us had run a whole lot since the marathon (what with our injuries) so we wanted to take it easy. In fact, that big hill we ran down at the top of the race? We walked it twice (close Sam!): strava tells Emma that the first time was in 6:42/km pace. The second (final) time? 8:56/km. HA. But we looked good doing it.

Loving this. All of it.
And then we're coming into the finish. 2 hours and 50 minutes after we jogged passed the lady with the ladder. And in my mind, I'm already signing up for the 50k next year.

Falling in love again

So, when's the next one? Soon? I hope! This fall for sure. But that's a post for another day. Summer/Fall plans are firming up, but first I've got the Niagara Women's Half Marathon to pace on Sunday. I hope my trailrunner quads heal by then!


  1. So great. Such a fun day and a refreshing change from road racing. Can't wait to do another one.

  2. Hee, so I'm not the only one thinking a 50k doesn't sound so crazy anymore! Double loop courses on the road are evil, but two loops through that gorgeous course is just two chances to admire the scenery :)

  3. Congrats Nicole on your first trail race! There's definitely something more relaxed about trail/ultra events, and they do have the best volunteers and aid stations! Did you try the date squares at the last aid station? So glad you had fun and 50K is definitely doable. Train for a spring marathon and then throw Sulphur on a bit later and you'll be good to go I'm sure. I'll definitely see you there as I'm going back. Sorry I missed you on Saturday, I was looking like crazy for you guys as well. Nice work!

  4. Love it! And love trail racing, nothing like it :)

  5. That's a heck of a way to learn to love running again!
    Why was Sam such a sore sport? I guess anyone would seem grumpy compared to you on the course that day!

    Great job Nicole!!

    1. HAHA! Sam was NOT a sore sport!!! She put her arm in my face for a photo and I let her have it. LOL!!! We got separated but it was all good!

  6. Trail races are so much fun! I'll have to look into this one for the future!

    1. I don't know how this fits in with IM, but all of us are very likely doing the 25k at the TOAD: http://www.runforthetoad.com/home_.html

  7. I passed you, you were far ahead of me completing a loop I was just starting! See you at the Vulture Bait!

  8. Great blog! You captured the joy of the day.

    I ran the 10K (3rd year in a row) and love love love the valley. I try to get to it at least once a week.


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