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Sunday, September 12, 2010

We called them ‘handshakers’…

… at the Co-op mall in North Battleford, the town I grew up in Saskatchewan. There was a little Cafe right in the center aisle of the mall where all the old guys would meet each day, shake hands and talk about anything.

Traci calls me a handshaker because I talk to anyone, anywhere.

Dinosaur Half Marathon and Family 5k, in Drumheller Alberta.

So… I was walking over to the start line of the Half Marathon (I was running the 5k a half hour later), and you have to walk through the ‘Badlands’ to get to the road and then over to the Little Church where the start was. There was a nice older couple walking behind me and we just kind of exchanged small talk as we walked. We go to this little wooded plankway bridge that was narrow, and I kind of waited to see if the lady needed a hand across, thus starting a more in depth conversation.


I walked along the road, talking to this nice gentleman about all thing Drumheller and road racing, as well as a number of other things, including me barefooting the 5k race. As we walk around the corner to the start, there are a number of Cops getting set for the race and he comments - “The RCMP have really done a good job for us on this race”. so I ask, “You say, us. Who are you to this race?”

“I am the Mayor of Drumheller”

DSCF2265 Hi Mayor Bryce Nimmo, nice to meet you!

Handshaking… at it’s finest, right there baby! LOL. We chatted some more, took a picture, then he had to go get ready as he is the official starter for all the events!

Now I’ll back up to the start of the day. I picked up my road trip buddy (my Dad) at his house at 6:15 for the 2 hour drive to Drumheller. A quick stop for coffee and we are away on our great adventure. It was Very cold overnight (first frost of the year) but the fog and the imminent sunrise made for an obvious photo op along the freeway. (unaltered photo)


We also had to stop at a tree. I have claimed this tree as my official Muse. I love this tree, I photograph it at every opportunity. The first 2 are taken last winter.



This one was taken this morning. Cows are awesome. The one on the left was staring at me, like.. What?


I took Dad through Rosebud, because if you are going to drive to Drumheller on a brisk Sunday morning, why wouldn’t you go through Rosebud. Remember Rosebud?

We got to the Tyrrell Museum with plenty of time to spare and so that is when I went over to the little Church for the start of the Half. See the little church? It’s motto is, seating for thousands, 6 at a time.


Me and the Mayor got there before anyone, so I got a chance to chat with the copper that was in Full Red Serge, DSCF2266as well a the chief of police. Heh, I was on some kind of a handshaker roll today wasn’t I? The cops were pretty cool too, they had a couple cars parked at the start line, and they had them moved so that any pictures taken during the start, didn’t have any random cars in them. Nice. I was standing chatting with the cops and the official race photog comes up and asks me to pose at the start line with the Red Coat Cop. So I will probably be (barefoot) in the promotional material for next years race, and I didn’t even run this years half.. HAHAHA. Marketing students and professionals: Any Questions? Oh, the next photo describes the reason I didn’t run the Half. 14ishkms of gravel roads.


I climbed up a badland(?) and took a number of cool photos, as well as this video of the start, and for the tourism bureau: the surrounding area too! Walking around up there smells awesome as the hills are littered with Sage plants… Mmmmmmm bbq.


Here is a cool shot from up there, before I climbed down and went to my start line.


The guy who won it is already in the lead ( waaaaay out there, wearing white). He ran the half in 1:20 and beat the second place guy by about 15 minutes.

DSCF2310 Here is Darcy and his DW/GF (?), he actually did the half in 1:17.. I just checked Wow!

Ok, on to my Race. First things first, right?


crud. Who the EFF!?! wouldn’t tell me that I had my Bondi Band on upside down. Am I that much of a clown that YOU (Dad) thought I did it on purpose??? I got no one to impress in Drum!!!? geez. I saw this photo and was like… seriously… wtf. Anyhow. Once back outside,  I was standing around the start line and was in a real quandry about footwear or not. The start area is ALL rough gravel and I was ok with this bit for barefoot but I had no idea what the trails were like out in the badlands. Dad and I took a walk up past the Museum to where the end of the paths met up with the parking lots and found that the path was rough asphalt. Ok, good enough. I did a little test run up the hill and it was more than fine. (Insert hindsight moment here). We went back down the the start to get ready to run!

I snapped this quick shot on the way past the museum. turned out pretty nice! Might send this to the Museum people. And, yeah, its fall here.


So back to the start and I decide to run in my Birkenstocks in the parking lot, then kick them off at the asphalt and run like the wind!


It warmed up enough for the start horn to work (Great job Mr Mayor). We were off. I took off right from the front and enjoyed the gravel all by myself. I got to the asphalt and I kicked them off to the shock of some! Man did I feel good today. I am SOOO feeling a PB coming on, I am actually running in 2nd place, sub 5min/km pace and even having a nice chat with a barefoot curious local runner.

DSCF2298 Look at that Bondi Band.. HAHA What a LUzzzer! sheesh

I make the turn off the highway and onto the trail that leads up into the badlands and WOW is this nice. it is a paved trail that has recently been power swept. I am flying! Up hill into a great trail system still sub 5 minutes k’s and feeling GREAT! …. whoa…dang…. crap. that was it for awesome. It was over. 2nd place gone. PB just a distant dream. Oh well. lets make the best of this. yuck.

DSCF2304DSCF2302 DSCF2305 

The gravel was brutal. I was able to maintain a 6-7 minute k, but it was on sheer will to get finished. There were points that I wanted to run in the cactus instead. I tried to run in the smooth wash dust, but it was few and far in between. I tried to run on the cryptobiotic crust that covers the hills, but that was a bust with the really sharp rocks sticking out of it. I ran it. All of it, slowly, tried to run relaxed, zen. It is what it is and I gotta get out of these hills somehow so, might as well run. Focus. focus. ow. fooocuuusssssss. This gravel was just put down. Probably for this race, because if it was wet, and the gravel wasn’t there, it is greasy slippery. The hindsight moment from earlier was: I should have took 6 more steps and looked up over the hill on my recon walk, as the glorious rough pavement ended and the gravel was just sitting there waiting to be discovered by me, if I just take 6 more steps. Such is life. I remind myself that I choose this for a variety of reasons, and one of them has to be good enough. I just haven’t figured out which one.

Drum garmin profile


Anyway, When I got back on the paved surfaces I was able to pick it up again, but this time I knew the gravel parking lot was waiting for me, to get to the finish line. I rounded the last bit of curve before the pavement and Dad had my birks ready for me. I thought ‘SWEET’, and then ran right past them. I figured I was so over committed to this whole gravelly education, I might as well finish it. I did. I worked incredibly hard to look like I was happy and enjoying this. There was even a video guy that came running into the finishers chute to record me crossing the line, ending his movie-like shot on my bare feet. I obliged by showing his camera the bottom of my feet. Woo… Glad this was over. The birks felt really nice at this point.

I finished 16th overall. Out of 176. 30:30:30 (how cool) finish chip time (not too bad, 4 minutes slower than last weeks non gravel run). I am kind of kicking myself for not wearing the 5’s as it would have been awesome to get a PB on this course (it was there for me), and if I would have PB’d I would be in 4th place overall! I Love small races! I had a mini interview with the PR director from the Tyrrell Museum, Mike said he is going to send me the footage of me crossing the line as well as my little blurb with him. Can’t wait to see the photos of the event too!

Lesson learned. I can do it. It was brutal, but I can do it. My feet are a little swollen and sore. Not bad tho. No injuries, no blisters, no cuts, no bruises, no problem. Next year, 5’s. Next race that I haven’t done before? More recon.

This was the first year of this event and it was really well done. No complaints from me (besides the barefoot and gravel issue), and I WILL do this one next year. Maybe this is the race that I’ll get some special award in 25 years being the only person to run all 25 of them!  Here is a photo of some mid packers from the half still out on course as we headed for home.


Mayor Bryce, great to meet you, Red Serge Tom, you are a huge man ( I over heard him talking to a little kid: “Eat all your spinach and you can be as tall as me one day”. Yeah right Tom, you are 6’6” tall, no one is that tall, no matter how much spinach you eat, hehe)

And for the people who like big stuff, here is the worlds largest Dinosaur. Look closely at the photo for items to scale the big boy with. wow.


  • Barefoot mileage since June 29th : 140km
  • VFF mileage since July 7th : 37.8km (12 on trails)
  • Shoe mileage since SOBF (start of barefoot): 5km (25:30 5k race PR on July 1st)

    1. Well done Neil! Looks like an incredible race! Such an awesome area too!

    2. That's some nasty stuff you were running on - I'm impressed. You've got the right attitude, too; practice practice practice. Sure you could have PRd, but how long would that PR last? Not long says I. Better to have a gravel education than a PR you'll forget about.

    3. That was an amazing story. Your pictures were so enjoyable. I cannot imagine getting through the gravel parts. I definitely would have quit.

      I always wonder what I would do if I was barefoot in a race and needed to pout my Vibrams on. It takes me so long to get my Vibrams on, plus with how slow I run, I am sure that everyone would have gone home by the time I finished if I had to do that.

      Guess the best way to find out -- like the way you did it -- is just by experience!

    4. Gravel. Ouch! I can walk on it but anytime I try running it HURTS!
      What a cool race you had. Congratulations.
      Cops moved cars out of the way so they would not spoil the pictures? For real?
      Speaking of pictures, yours are really cool. Beautiful place to run.

    5. Story + photos?! Awesome.
      The photos are amazing.
      And ummmmm..... The portapotty one... Yep that's the first time I've ever viewed a photo of anyone on a pOp. Yay for firsts!!! ;)

    6. First off, ouch.

      I was down the shore (as we say in Joisey) this weekend and at some point I had to walk barefoot on the crushed-shell parking lot (WTF? Crushed shell?) and ... ouch! Just walking.

      Congrats on being insane. That's better than a PR. Insane lasts longer.

      As for the pic of Kanada Keef ... WHERE ARE THE HOT CHIX!1!??

      You LIED!1!

      Just for that, I'm telling everyone you said you WOULD do an Ironman!

      Better run, Keef!

    7. nice race! i really like your shot of the race from above :) very cool!

    8. oh - by the way: You were a 'handshaker' since two years of age! There you were - at any little old cafe right in the center aisle of any little ol' mall - where all the old guys and one very young guy would meet, shake hands and talk about EVERYTHING.

    9. Beautiful country. Love the pics. Still don't know how you do the running, especially gravel with no shoes. Tenderfoot here. Couldn't do it. Would love to try on the Fives just for grins though. Your dad traveling with you to races is awesome.

      Its good to catch up on your blog. Way behind on my reading.

    10. Lorne: It was an incredible race!
      Josh: upon reflection, I agree
      AS: Take your time and put your 5's on. Finish the race
      EWA: You are an inspiration beyond all inspirations!
      EMZ: Check out Boring Runner and Steve in a Speedo blogs, they have pOp shots too in recent posts
      Heisenberg: No
      Zaneta: It's my fav too!
      Mom: Thanks, and I know.
      64: It was tough, not life threatening tho... My dad is my business partner too!

    11. Ouch! Good for you for sticking it out. I love the tree pictures, especially from this year. And of course the sunrise is gorgeous. I think I might look at this half next year. My knees actually like gravel roads a lot better than the pavement (as I found out Sunday!).

    12. ha. Ok. Never realized wearing it upside down was a trend!