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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Weaselhead XC, Calgary Roadrunners, RR.

The race in my mind always is a negative one until the 1/2 point before I actually think I can finish it. If I make that far, the rest is downhill (in my head). When the volunteer said “4k that way, 8k this way” I almost went ‘that way’. I got about 5 strides past, then decided it would look wussy if I turned around now. I am super happy I carried on. The rest of the race turned out pretty spectacular and once Stella I got her my groove, I was fine and happy. I even did a fun heel kick jump for the camera! I am afraid to see it.

I decided to go to this race kind of last minute, so not much prep. I arrived about 20 minutes early, ran over paid my $10 and chatted up some folks. I saw Ron there again as well as Todd, who is the crazy bugger who wears shorts to these events no matter what the weather. Dawn is there as always, and actually had her granddaughter there running with her. Very cool. I got introduced to a number of people, but I a dummy and don’t remember anyone’s names so please speak up and identify yourselves if you see yourself in any of these photos.


The Calgary Roadrunners folks are just great. I always feel welcomed and I am going to try and support more of their races. Thank you to the organizing team for this race, it was great fun! Did I ever tell you I love racing?

There is a kids race first and there were 2 entries. The little girl won her AG and the little boy won his AG. Congrats to everyone.

So, just so you guys and gals out there know how unreal fortunate we are in Calgary (even though is SOO cold sometimes) I have included the following graphic depicting where the race is located in relation to the city. I include this just because my race photos kind of defy the proximity to our city of over a Million people.
City map

Thanks Dawn for this picture that shows how close we really are to mid-town!
City from Dawn

So today was not that cold, only about –4c/26f but the wind was biting. I came prepared for a cold run. Here is my best ninja impersonation. Happy Josh? Thanks again Dawn for this shot!
Ninja Neil
I love me a good Bondiband hat!

Ok, On to the Race. We got started a few minutes behind due to the kids race. Once we got going, I wasn’t sure what I had gotten involved in. The snow was crusty, but not crusty to hold us, but there were parts that stay stable so it was tough running. When you did crash through it was shin deep.

This was a cool shot, I thought. Look at the flying snow!

Oh yeah, remember how bundled up and cold everyone looks? nuff Said. Btw, That’s Todd on the right. Every race, shorts.

So, we got off the prairie flats we dropped off the edge of the world and into the forest. This is trail running at it’s best I am sure. I can’t describe it well enough so I will let the pictures speak for themself.


I really like this one… just looks like energy doesn’t it?

I got passed by a few people in the first half as I knew the course was going to be tough and I didn’t want to overdo it and then I kinda got left alone to enjoy the trail by myself for a while. I just marvelled at the scenery and how nice the day was. Once we got down in the trees it was really quite warm out and I ended up taking off my facewarmer and gloves. As I was running along I kept seeing a runner up in the distance and they weren’t pulling away anymore. This lady had passed me earlier but she didn’t seem to be getting away from me. I just plugged along and as we ran through the weaselhead flats from the 3k to 5k mark I crept ever so closer. I made a plan to catch up and then pace with her, and just see what happens. about the 5k mark I was on her heels after I absolutely FLEW down the steepest, longest slope on the course (complete with a huge *WoOtwOoT* at the bottom).

This was the top of the hill, it was about 100’ elevation, straight down to the bottom in shin deep snow! Awesome! DSCF3200

I stayed behind her for about a click as she would pull away a bit on the uphills and I would catch up on the downhills, but there was a point at about 6k that I had a chance to go by, so I did! She stayed with me for a bit, but I used a bit of gameplay in my head and told myself to pull away from her at all costs. I did get away from her a bit but I slowed down to take some video and all of a sudden there was a group of people behind me. Shit… Ok, time to giter-done. I think there were about 4 people in the group and all I heard were footsteps bearing down on me and I just kept pushing and pushing to keep them at bay. When I finally popped up out the valley I had a lead on them but didn’t let up at all. I push hard right through the finish and had a about 30 seconds on them! My mark from earlier was about a minute behind.

Hey, whatever motivates you right? I pretty much took  a knee at the finish as I was spent. I was queasy, coughing (still have  cold) and really tired. It was perfect. I left it all out there, managed my race, kicked for a couple clicks at the end and ended up really proud of myself.

Yeah! I just saw the photos from the race photog! I’m the album cover! click the image to go the entire gallery.

Shortly after my *WoOtwOoT* I spotted the race photog! Here is the most awesome result! I freaking love this! This is my new mission statement for running! Great shot Ms. Photographer! Heel Click baby wooo!! Look at that air time! This is 3/4 of the way through this tough race too!
heel click

Maybe my favorite running shot, next to the one above, this was just after my perfect landing… I was laughing!
Neil running

It was as fun as this elevation profile and course looks!
elevation profile

race route close up

I ran in the Merrells and they performed incredibly. Lots of grip, comfortable, really good ground feel. they took on a bit of snow in the deep stuff, but it wasn’t an issue at all. There was no slipping on the fast downs and had all the grip I needed on the ups. I wore a thin sock in them today and it was better than the injinjis as they didn’t hold any excess moisture this time.

Went inside the clubhouse afterwards, enjoyed a bowl of chili and some great conversation with some great people then headed home!

24k Sunday morning!

PS. Here is this weeks ass shot. Equal opportunity right?


  1. Ah, there's the ninja. Nice hitch-kick-esque jump, too. You should try hurdles!

  2. I think this might be the best race photo I have EVER seen! That looks like a hoot - way to get out there and enjoy the snow.

  3. you have my utmost admiration running a race in the SNOW!!!!! Holy cow Neil!! Sorry but I wouldn't even get to the start.

  4. Congrat's on the run! Consider coming out to the Calgary Road Runners' Tuesday night sufferfest at the Olympic Oval. Intervals, intervals, intervals. Although there's no pressure to do just intervals. I'm sure I've seen some barefoot runners there too.

  5. These are great pictures, Neil! Questions: what kind of camera do you use? Do you stop to take pictures, take them on the run, or a combination? Yesterday must've been the day to be out on the trails. I was, too, but our temps were about 10* warmer.

    LOVE the heel click picture!!

  6. Love your jump picture!
    You Canadians are hardcore, that's for sure. We'll see how you can handle mud when all that snow melts.
    I am not much of a racer but I love reading race reports and that includes yours. Thanks for sharing and cool photos too. Congrats, Neil.

  7. a) That looks like one awesome race! Granted, if it were me, I might wuss out because of the cold. Moving away from Montana has softened me up, and I'm no longer as tolerant of the cold weather.

    b) You are a rabbit. Your race picture is awesome!

  8. @ Kate: it's a Fuji Z33WP, set to auto shutter with no flash. I take most of them on the run, but I have been known to stop on occasion. I shoot all my video with the same tiny little camera.

    @ Adam. Maybe.

    @ Lindsay, I would probably get a little thinned blooded too!

    @ Ewa, the next race for the XC series is in 3 weeks and traditionally (i'm told) it's a MUDFEST! can't wait

    @ Mama, really? you wouldn't?

    @ Reagun. Thanks, If we can't enjoy the snow, we'd be a very grumpy place for 6-7 months of the year.

  9. Great photo. Sums up how running makes us all feel.

  10. Awesome jump pic man...tried to do that for my 1/2 last week and they missed it...drats.....was tooooo tired to do it again....nice post...rock on MAN!!!!!

  11. Great pics Neil. The jumping one is classic and should go on their website. I ran in the snow once. Seriously, I did. I survived too.

  12. That race pic is awesome!
    And as usual you have such great pics on your race reports.

  13. Love all those Pictures Neil! the jumping one is fantastic!!! Ran in the snow before of course, it is harder then it looks.

  14. Good man, put the shorts OVER the tights/sweatpants. Don't want all of that hanging around.....

    Great report! The footing actually looked pretty good for being XC and in the snow.

  15. Wow. I was sweating like a pig running with princesses and you guys are running on crisp, white snow. Crazy.