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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kananaskis K100 Relay Report

Scenery and K-100 Photos overload warning. K100 Relay results will be posted here.

I went to bed Friday night at 8:30 and woke up at 1:30. Couldn’t go back to bed. I talked to myself on Facebook for a while, got myself together then at 4am I headed out.

I drove the 70ish kms to Longview, just enjoying the peace and quiet, and tying to think about the day ahead. I had no idea what I was in for but couldn’t wait to find out. I had to take a picture of the little town of Longview from the hill above town just so you could see how rural the start of this race was. Remember, it was 5am here and still quite dark out. I used a long exposure with the camera held steady on a fencepost to get this shot.IMG_3316

Longview had quite the day Saturday. The K-100 starts here, the Enbridge Ride to conquer Cancer comes through here and the Make-a-wish motorbike rally also makes a visit!

The K-100 race has 3 staggered starts. Most of the Teams start at 6am. We are the slower runners. In an effort to get everyone off the 100 mile course in 14hours they have forced starts on some legs, as well as these staggered start times. The next group starts at 7am and the speediest groups starts at 8am. Heck those guys could have started at noon as we first saw them by leg 3. They made up a 2hour delayed start in the first 5 hours of our run.

The start location is nice. There is a grassy park where they let you pitch a tent for the night. (however, it was VERY cold that morning… brrr to getting out of your sleeping bag…)


A better shot of the start banner and the race route off in the distance.

Joanne was Leg 1 runner on our team. Daren and I saw her off, as well as the rest of the 6am runners. (about 180 total to start.) The race has 2800 runners total.

267-1 – Wade. I met him at the start line. such. corny. jokes. he was a blast, I hope you all finished strong! Wow was it was still really cold. Like 5c cold. (40f)

As soon as the runners left, Daren and I went for breakfast. If you are ever in Longview, don’t overlook Heidi’s Food Saloon for your meal. The breakfast was fantastic!

The course does a quick loop in town then heads out on the highway toward the mountains.


So, each team is allowed a support vehicle, which has access to the runner at all times. Whatever they need, however many stops the runner wants, the support vehicle can provide. The other vehicle is the shuttle. The shuttle isn’t really policed. Most of our team drove ourselves out to the race, and we looked after each other for going back and retrieving our cars at the end of our legs. And while we always had 1 support car, there may have been 3-4 of us in our own vehicles on a given leg. (also, you may not have to run until hours later, but it’s still great fun to watch this race, so there are a lot of spectators just cheering!)

Joanne was the benefactor of my very happy camera trigger finger, as well at the morning light…



I think this picture should be on the cover of something, somewhere… You take enough shots in life and sometimes you get lucky… This is photo 33,409 in the past 2.5 years with my Canon DSLR. This is one of probably only 50 that I am really proud of. Funny thing is, it’s framed this way to cut the dude out that you see in the photo above…

And some other random shots from the leg. Yeah, this is all just leg 1!  

Joel (leg6), Dean (getting ready to run Leg 2) and Kraig (not running until leg 9) were at the leg 1-2 transition. Nice to meet you.

Joanne finished strong (not her fastest, as she was still feeling the 80k race from a week ago) and Dean was off to complete his leg. The next two legs were dominated by a very difficult wind.

I am positive I am the only one who saw this little bit of scenery. Can you guess why?

I know you calf hurt like a muther*****r Dean, but you powered through Leg 2 like a CHAMP! Way to go. Doesn’t look like it here, but the wind was brutal too.

I headed up to T-2 to find Anita. Remember, a bunch of us had never met as Clint (leg 5, superhero) put together this team from his cyber friends on Facebook and the Runners World Forum. The core of the team were Dean, Joel, Dan, Joyce JACKIE and Clint, the other 5 were cyber noobs.

Hi Anita! Anita is a relatively new racer, and had the worst wind on Leg 3, but she did amazing!

Typical transition scene.

I caught a couple awesome tag-offs.

Including Dean gently sending Anita on her way… IMG_3497

There she goes! She took off like a shot!

Here she is smiling (faking it?) out on course.

The prairie highlands started to give way to a more alpine scene and we started to really gain altitude. IMG_3510IMG_3519

So the next leg is mine. I took the time to do some course reconnaissance and I almost wish I hadn’t. It was pretty scary for me. my goal, based on no facts or experience whatsoever, was a 1:40 in the 14.1kms.

Ok, just so all of you know, since I completed this race without croaking or my legs falling off, I can tell you that I never ran one step since the Red Deer Half exactly a month ago. For lots of really good reasons. for the past week, I have been feeling bad, including a pinched nerve in my left hip and a bit of a tweaky knee, which I blame both on my new job, having to wear dress shoes and sit at a desk for extended times. I posted on Facebook that I was injured and that implied that maybe if someone stepped up, that they could take my spot. No one did.

Good freaking thing.

I loved every minute of this day. Even the crazy uphill leg I agreed to run. Remember me telling you how hard and hilly Red Deer Half was? Yeah. Not so much.

There is an education in running if you are willing to put yourself out there and try new stuff. 810’ of elevation gain,  300’ elevation loss. The downs were nice, but they really weren’t long enough to gather myself before the next up. And the first 4km were really hard. Just sayin. The perspective is really weird as when i wasn’t going up one of the steeper ups, the flats really looked like downs… a real mental oddity.

Elevation compare

Happy and nervous at the start.

Biggest reasons for the eventual awesomeness of my run?

1. There were groups of support teams that I would see 5-6 times during the run

2. My support. Thanks Kraig!

3. Other runners. All supportive.

4. The thought that I would let my team down if I fail.

When you are running a mountain relay in your barefeet, you gain some attention. It was ALL good! Thanks to everyone who cheered me up this big effin hill! If you see yourself in any of these pictures, feel free to click, right click and save the picture for yourself!  I had a few people snapping pics, and one person goes “Hey! are you the one writes the blog?” cool.

A tiny bit of downhill to finish was pretty nice!

I finished in 1:44, 4 minutes off my not fact based finish goal estimate. I am intact, uninjured and almost apologetically happy. My hip actually feels better than it did before. I did have a really wicked calf cramp after the run when I took off my calf sleeves. made me swear.

When I went back and got my car I took some time to take a couple shots of my leg…


I think you’d all agree that I was the big winner, right? I’m still in awe that I got to run this race…

I’m going to stop now and publish this part of the race report. It will get WAY too long and picturesque for 1 post.

But I will leave you with a teaser of part 2…




  1. Yeah. I remember that scenery from my ride. Drove from Longview and parked where the forestry trunk road joins. Then rode up almost to the top and back. Amazing scenery! Did you see any bears? My buddy Katie saw several riding the other side.

  2. What a gorgeous route, thanks for sharing the pictures

  3. Awesome pictures mate!!!!!!!!!

  4. Super awesome!! I love being able to see the legs that I didn't run! Your leg was BEAUTIFUL!

  5. Uh-mazing pics Neil. Stunning. Like my jaw was dropping. So pretty. You are right, that one pic is just fantastic with the runner on the right side of the frame and the horses on the left.

    Thanks for taking the time to post these. Very enjoyable.

    Looks like tons of fun too.

  6. YEah, awesome pictures and descriptions. And Great to have met you! Sorry, didn't stay to support you!

  7. Oh, my gosh, Neil. What gorgeous pictures!! What an amazing experience. And, back to the pictures, you did a great job capturing the hills. I hate how usually they don't look like ANYTHING in pictures!

  8. Hey Kate. I hear ya on how the hills look in pictures. Now just imagine how big they looked in real life!!! Yikes!

  9. Wow, your pictures are incredible. Looks like the relay was a great experience, congrats!!

  10. Gorgeous photos! What a picturesque and technically difficult course!

  11. Thanks so much for posting these photos! I ran leg 4 too, so didn't have much of a chance to take pics. I agree- those flat stretches felt like downhills.
    Happy trails!

  12. Terrific post, Neil - gives a real feel for what running through Kananaskis is like.

    Love the gorgeous landscapes you captured along the way - looking forward to part 2!

    Hope you & your team will back to race again next year.


  13. Horsies! Rivers! Mountains! Lots of runners! Feeling like you're right in the middle of all the action! What's not to love!

    Makes me want to move to Canada. Maybe I'd better go back and look at all those snow pictures before I go and do something like that -- lol!

  14. Gorgeous recap and amazing photos Neil! I'd love to run this some day... ;)