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Sunday, 3 November 2013

Banff Winterstart 8 Miler Recap: Snow, Bears, Beer...Oh My!!

Saturday night was the Banff Winterstart 8 miler. And this year mother nature decided to START winter!

Last year the weather was great for this race...with only a little snow starting to fall only after we started. This year...Well, we went to bed on Friday with the threat of a heavy snowfall warning!
And woke up to this:
Still. We wanted to forge on....a little snow isn't going to stop us Canadians en route to a little nice race! Snow, schmoe. So Michelle comes and picks me up. I had been texting Leana to see what it was like in Banff and she confirmed it was coming down big time. So to be safe, we change plans. We take Michelle's car since she has NEW winter tires. Safety First. So off we trecked for the 128km drive. It was a bit of a slow trek, since the roads were a little slick. But we got there. Met up my pal Tara (and changed in her hotel) then all got ready to brave the blowing snow to head to the race!

Of course this year, Mother Nature roared. But so did a GRIZZLY. A nice friendly (ummm) bear decided to hang out in the race area, so last minute reroutes were done to ensure safety of runners and the bear. YES! REALLY! A grizzly bear. Twitter was alight. And, the re-routing made the race a LOT more hilly. HA! Snow and Hills...good times my friends, good times! (FYI: this is not my first race in Banff that's been rerouted for bears.)

Since it is a night run, and everyone is given glowsticks for the race, it is a fun, glowy, lit-up affair. Yet very few wear head lamps!! We were all standing around taking silly photos and waiting for the race to start.
So that means PICTURE-TIME!!!!! 

There are some with a few lights, or glowsticks...and then are are those who are lit up like a tree. 

And finally we got to the start! It was a slick start. 2000 of us trudging through the snow was creating some serious ass slush and slick. And before we knew it the climb up tunnel mountain started.  I was thinking that it was a pretty good climb, so just tried to think about my breathing and push on forward. Be strong, no walking push up the hill! I ran parts of this route in both Melissa's and Banff Ekiden press on!! However this route was narrower than I recall the original route being. Just a bit before I got to the turnaround point a couple people wiped out in front of me.
The view coming downhill! 
A little slippy slidey and I got around the mayhem. Once I got to the turnaround I thought it seemed short. It was too dark, and I couldn't see my watch. So I kept moving! It was hard to let go and run downhill with the slick road conditions. These back roads has a lot more snow. But I felt great coming down. And then I barely missed a couple more runners who took a tumble in the awesome conditions....yikes. Slow own a little. Shorten the stride....but keep moving. 

It wasn't very long before I could hear cheering and yelling and I was amazed I was already rounding the corner to the last of the downhill and then round another corner to the last bit before the finish. I thought I hadn't been out long enough. Then again, I was relieved, since this was a bit of an SOB race. And I ran like hell for the finish line. It was quite awesome since so many people were out! As I crossed the finish I looked at the watch. 4.17 miles. So it WAS short. Finished in 51:22. Not bad. I was a little disappointed in my pace, but the race is VERY crowded, roads were not cleared, and it was very slick. Couldn't rip down the hills like I can. My goal was to beat last year's  race time of 53:56. Not faster, no. But still the conditions were totally different. Not at all comparable. I made with without wiping out or hurting myself, I felt pretty good.  I also have to say the volunteers for this race are AWESOME!! Cowbells, and signs and awesome cheerleading the whole way. I love me some cheering. It makes a race better every time!

I had thought I saw Leana as I was coming down, but I couldn't see her at the finish. It was so crowded. I came across the finish about a minute or so after Tara, so she and her boyfriend, Trevor, were right near me as I finished. We tried to find Michelle, who I knew would have be a LOT faster than me...but in the crowd couldn't really locater her. So we decided to take a few MORE pics (I know you are SURPRIZED!!) while in the food (aka Beer) line! 

 And then after a lotta texts and crowd surfing 
(more of the elbows up and shoving kind of searching) we found Michelle!! 

It really is a fun race. Totally overcrowded in the reception area...but I would do it again. I think I would take my chances with the weather too. But I think next time, I would prefer to stay out there to make more of a weekend of it. And avoid the snowy driving. 

Wanna read more about Banff Winterstart?  Check out Michelle's and Leana's recaps! 

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