Run for the Toad 50K, Paris, ONT 2,2

2 October 2010 - After hearing about the Toad from many Canadian
runners while participating in events on both sides of the border and
receiving an invitation from RD Peggy Sarson while at Creemore last year,
I knew I wanted to run this fun classic Ontario event. So at 2 a.m. on race
day I was up and out the door headed once again to the border. The
weather forecast was for an all-day rain and they nailed it. Having been
feverish with stomach cramps the day before and recovering from a groin
pull and anterior tendon behind my right knee (I had pulled up after having
run only 5 miles in the previous week before the race) I was perhaps
acting against my better judgement in racing, but once again threw
caution to the wind and dove into it.

Arriving at the start at the Pinehurst Lake Conservation Area before 7 a.m. I
picked up my race packet with two-and-a-half hours to spare. Since dawn was
just breaking and there was a light drizzle in the 45 degree temps I kicked
back the seat of the car and took a 45-minute cat nap to take the edge off of
going in motion so early in the morning. Awakening surprisingly refreshed I
got organized, used the facilities, and got dressed and ready to toe the line.
I waited in the car out of the light rain until 15 minutes before the start, and
even then ducked under the large tent at "Tent City" at the start to stay warm
before the 9:30 send off with 1300 other 50K and 25K participants.

I've always had to hand it to the Canadians. They are hardy and don't mind
inclement weather. Come rain or snow you won't hear any complaint, and they
seem to relish running in the mud. With only 150 entrants in the 50K, that
left nearly 1200 of those I started with knowing they only had 15 miles to run,
so we headed off with a quicker tempo than I might normally begin a 50K.
When you have a shorter race you are more inclined to go for it early, so I
ran to keep up with the 25K people all around me, especially the good-looking

The course zigs and zags through the park up and down small but noticeable hills
over a 12.5K trail that is rounded four times for the 50K. The first trip around
seemed to go quickly in 1:09, with the second only a notch slower in 1:13. The rain increased during the first hour and turned into a steady down pour with chilly breezes for the next three hours before abating somewhat, but not stopping, until the finish. With constant company during the first half from 25K
entrants I didn't mind the loop nature of the course, as I usually do. There
was no time to become bored with so much society around you all the time.
By the third lap I caught up to hundreds of walkers in the 25K event. Offering
words of encouragement to each as I passed led to enjoyable exchanges that
further helped distract from the increasingly bad conditions. Again, there was
no time or inclination to complain.

From the pitter-patter of 2600 feet doing repeat loops on the course, the trail
began to disintegrate with all the rain before the end of the second loop. Going
downhill in many instances became a tenuous proposition, so I slowed
accordingly and watched foot placement to avoid any sliding that would wreck
my left ankle or cause me to slip and fall otherwise.

I enjoy running metric courses because it takes far less to click off a kilometer
than it does to run a mile. The km's continued to come and go quickly into the
fourth loop. By this time the field had thinned to only 50K runners finishing their
final loop. I seemed to get into a zone of just enjoying splashing through all
the mud, not missing a single puddle. While soaked through I was comfortable
in my Nike thermal top and never experienced hypothermia as others were
in the steady 45-47 degree weather. The four aid stations were well stocked
and came around every twenty minutes or so, so I didn't carry a water bottle
or gel pouches or electrolytes or wear a belt. My needs were well taken care of.

With about five kilometers to go on the final lap Ken Moon caught me and we
covered ground while catching up since the last time we ran the first 25 miles
together at Hailburton three weeks ago. Ken had gone on to finish sub-24 at the
Haliburton 100 and then did 193K in a 24-hour event just the week before,
so he was a bit fatigued yet from those efforts, thus explaining why it took him
so long to catch up to me in a race he finished 4:37 in 2009. I enjoyed his
company for a time before crossing the finish separatey a short time later in
5:25:45 for 33rd place of 115. It was not too bad a time when all things are considered, and I immensely enjoyed myself. Results

Ken treated me to a post race honey lager before I chowed down on some
tasty chicken breast and Canadian cuisine before heading home. He related
that he was awarded the Ontario Ultra Series men's championship for 2010 for
efforts over the year. A toast was in order. I was feeling pretty good after
the day's showing and encouraged to keep the challenges coming, despite the
march of time and limitations of injury.