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Please be advised that the contents of this blog are opinions only (my opinion, the opinions of my family and the opinions of anyone else directly or indirectly involed in this blog). This is not an accredited training blog, nor is it an accredited anything blog. If you (and you) do anything that this blog says, or don't do anything that this site says not to do, and you get injured, sick or killed, you cannot blame me or my family or blame anyone else directly or indirectly involved in this blog. By reading anything on this blog (including this message) you are saying that you are a person who makes thier own choices in life and does not hold the writer of this blog, the writers family or any one else that may be directly or indirectly involved in the production or writing of this blog, responsible for your stupid and irresponsible behaviors, injuries, sicknesses or deaths. With that said, please enjoy my fun blog.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

K-100 Relay Race Report, Part 2. The rest of the story…

K100 Race results are here

Part 1 here.
Part 1.5 here.

Everyone seemed like they had pretty inspired runs,  But first:

Here I am running near the finish line of leg 4. Dude, I am a person, not just a pair of bare feet…

Notice I am on the road side of the white line. I ran there whenever there weren’t cars coming toward me as it was clean with no little rocks. I would usually run ON the white line in other races but there was a pavement seam right there and it was very unsure footing. Thanks to Leg 10 Dan for this photo. I only met him for a couple minutes total, but he seemed like a nice guy.


When I finished, I got a ride back to my car with Kraig, and then I went and stood in the river for a while and reflected on the run.

Once that was over I headed back a ways down the road to the Highwood House (a gas station) for some beef jerky, BBQ chips, ice cream sandwich and a G2. Once back on the road I bumped into the clean-up crew doing the same Job I had during the Calgary Marathon. I stopped and helped load a few tables and then continued on my journey back to the race course.


Once I got changed and had an old spice deodorant bath, I headed up the highway to see if I could catch Clint on his tough Leg 5. He was probably 2/3 of the way through his run when I got there and was able to get a ‘few’ shots of him. He ran the 17.54k leg in 1:36. I pulled up beside him and told him I thought leg 4 was probably tougher. He grunted: Yeah, probably. And just kept chugging up the hill. That leg sucks. Most teams save their stupidest most gullible best runners for this leg as it is pretty insane.


1476’ of elevation gain on this leg in 17.54kms. wow.


He is smiling! It was a pretty inspired run. He did complain quite a bit about where Dan parked the car after he finished (half a click back up the road).


I carried on up the road, stopping and taking pictures, noticing everytime I got out of the car it was getting colder. When i got to the summit it actually started to snow a bit and the wind was just bitter. There was lots of snow on the ground still and everyone was bundled up in blankets and whatever articles of clothing they could find!


Clint finished in typical strong fashion and handed off the race to Joel.


It was a little disappointing to me (and probably the leg 5 runners) that leg 5 didn’t finish right at the summit. I am sure it’s race logistics, but it was the leg 6 runners who get to crest the pass. It’s pretty neat to see runners topping out on the highest paved road in Canada. Remind me why we do this again?


Oh yeah, right. This is why we do it…


Joel is the youngest member of our group and therefore gets leg 6. 9kms straight down. 1200’ elevation loss. Hang the Eff on!! I drove down the hill, stopping for photos every now and then, but mostly watching the various downhill styles of each runner. From balls out run as hard as you can, to leaning back and braking with each step (ouch), to completely uncontrolled Phoebe style to light and quick and seemingly easy. Joel ran it great and seemed in great shape at the end.


This is my 3rd favourite shot from the day. The first was the one in part 1 - Joanne and the Horses. Number 2 is coming up.


Joel finished strong. The leg actually finishes with a nasty little uphill which I understand tends to claim runners more than anywhere else on course. After trashing your quads for an hour, that little up is agony!! Joyce Jackie was ready and gone like a shot on leg 7. This is a long 18km leg with a real variety in terrain.


Dean and Joel! Congrats on your runs! I spent quite a bit of time with this Father and Son running duo, and I appreciate the support on this day. Thank you!


Here is Joyce Jackie running happy. Unfortunately she konked out at the 10k mark with some Stomach problem, so Superhero Clint stepped in and finished the leg.

This is what Joyce Jackie had to say about it.

My story is short: DNF. Had to quit at about 10 km due to stomach issues :( Clint and Dan fought over who would get to finish my leg, but Superhero Clint won out and ran the balance of my leg for me (altho I did finish the worst part - the 3k hill!!!)

Great support from my teammates (Neil included). Next year, I WILL beat Leg 7!!!!!


I didn’t know any of this was happening as I decided to do a little sightseeing and relaxing before my stint as support for Susan. I drove around just looking and sitting. I thought I should head back down to see what was going on and when I ran into Clint and Dan (   Joyce Jackie hadn’t bonked yet) and I realized that leg 8 may have a forced start. This put me in a little panic when Clint said, YES it is is and it’s in 15 minutes.

Suck-o. I hopped back in the car and headed down the road. I didn’t know how far I was away from the transition but I knew it was still pretty far away. What I realized is that Forced starts kind of jam up the support vehicles and people in general. I had to park WAY down the road and RUN to the crowd.

I had never met Susan before. I was frantically running in and around the crowd, looking at bibs. I thought I found her when I spotted the a bib that was partially covered by her jacket but the last 2 numbers were correct. I stood right in front of this lady and said, Are YOU Susan?… nothing. I was like a foot away from her and I Said, HEY, Are You Susan!?, she kind of looked off into the distance and didn’t respond.

Not Susan. However, to my chagrin, the announcement comes over the loudspeaker “30 SECONDS TO THE FORCED START”

Damn. What do I do now… I KNOW. So I jog about 50 yard down from the crowd and I start to scan bibs as they run by. Sure enough I spot the RIGHT bib and start running beside her, and introduce myself. Susan was cool. Id’ve been all panicked and worried, but she was unphased. We made a plan for support and I headed back to the car. I had the GU, but for some reason I didn’t have any water. Was I supposed to pick up water somewhere, was there a support package that I missed out on? hmmmm…

So… over in the ditch was a table with big jugs of water. I looked around in my car and I decided to rinse out one of my GU bottles and go fill it up. I got back to the car and mt common sense finally kicked in and I headed over to the store (the transition was right across from the 1 store in the valley) and bought 2 bottles of water. I just couldn’t offer her water from a bottle that had already been used (by me) in this race… Simple for some, big deal decision making for me…. yeesh…

Well, I pulled out and got into line with the masses of cars. When I finally caught up to Susan, she was ready to shed her jacket. Just as I got back into my car and pulled up the highway again, it just started to POUR rain. ahead it was like watching a frogger video game as support teams crossed over the road to get jackets back to thier runners. Susan was having none of that, she was warmed up and kicking ass!


Look how happy while running in the rain. Great attitude!


Here is my second favourite photo from the race… Looks fake, except for the runners…


This was the reality for the entire leg as support groups leapfrogged each other for the duration of the run. Compounding the issue was the fact there were additional forced starts in the next two legs and teams were trying to get their runners to the start areas. I was parked at one point updating facebook and twitter (just got service back for the first time in 9 hours) and BANG BANG, theres a loud knock on the passanger window. I peed a little. It was Clint dropping off the support car sign and safety vest as they went by to go drop off Dan at leg 10 start.  Kraigs yellow Jeep is up in the line of cars as he was headed to leg 9 start.


Right here Susan goes running by and says “It’s one of those days! I just beat my 10k PR!!” Yeah! Way to go! I think the race adds a bit of go juice to your Mojo when you are part of a cool team! Don’t ya think?


Susan ran with this group of 4 ladies, and during the last support spot I told her to lose these chicks, time to break out! She replies: No problem, i’ll be able to out kick them, no problem!


She was right, in the last 2kms she pulled out a lead of at LEAST 300 meters! Nicely done. She tagged off to Kraig in a torrential downpour and we headed back to pick up her car. I dropped off Susan and then headed home. just like that. It was over for me. home life called and I was more than ready to get back to my DW and DS. I started at 1:30 am and it was now 6pm and still an 1:15 from home.


That was it for me. I did get a report from Dan and Kraig. Here are their storys.

Kraig said:

Man this was a busy weekend. Just got back to Edmonton at 11:30 last night. It was great meeting everybody though. Can't believe how much fun it was. Right now all I want to do is go run it again.
As for my leg; 'It was wet.' Crap now I owe Susan some money. How much was that again? Five bucks a word? Jeez, Dan I might need your help with the math on this one.
The first km was pretty wet but it cleared up fast. It was a good time for the rain actually because the first 2k or so was just a bike path with no hills. Then we were guided off onto 200m of shale under a bridge that I think Neil would have hit his head on. Man was it low. Quickly changed over to mulch though and stayed flat until about the 4k mark. Right after crossing a small bridge over some rushing water we headed (what felt like) straight up for 3k. The trail was basically damp/soft dirt with oddly place rocks and tree root protruding everywhere. After that it plateaued for 1k and everything went crazy muddy and swampy. I just left the rushing water down below but somehow it made its way up the hill. Then there was another 1k up with patches of wet and dry spots. Followed by 2k down where the random rocks and tree roots got worse. Another flat 1k as we crossed a river and made our way around a small parking lot. At which point we had another 1k up but this one was worse than the others and everyone else began to walk. Then the last 500m was flat with plenty of water to clean oneself off for the finish.
Um... Man that was long winded. Don't ask me to write stuff cause you'll get a story. This was me trying to keep it short.
In the end I ran the 12.5k in 1:18:23. Ignore the fact that Dan's leg was 5.5k longer and I look pretty good. :)

Dan said:

Great to have met are right, the whole thing was a blast (except Leg

Leg-10 - basically an 18km out and back leg - Started at the Nakiska Ski Resort, first 3km through the forest downhill....a bit muddy and the trail was very "rutty"...afterwhich the trail turn to rock and points what seemed to be loose shale, following power lines for another 3km...then the ice cold creek crossing, about shin deep (very refreshing....not). Another up and down non-stop climb to the turnaround point just to do it all over again. Except this time the end bit was changed so that we could enjoy a 1.2km direct Ski slope climb out of the woods to the ski lodge.

All in all....a very challenging course....worst for me was being a sea level creature from TO...the constant up and downs at altitude took its toll on me....and I blame Clint the Anti-Christ for that part......also and VERY important....I wore trail shoes (based on the recommendation of the guy working the pool area at the hotel....not a good idea...) and now I have a hole in my foot (happy to send a pic for effect if you need it....) also blame Clint the devil for that.....


But in the was an absolute blast.....getting to meet most everyone was very cool and made the experience a lot of fun.

Final time for the 18km - 1:18:56


Thanks team! It was a blast!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A little housekeeping before I continue on the 2011 K100 Relay Report.

I swear in this post… It makes a point. It’s the F word and the S word. Deal.

1. First. Sorry about all my poor grammar. Even for me, the last post makes me look like a blogtard. I've since gone through and fixed all the ‘you’ that should be ‘your’ and all the words that my mind said, but my fingers forgot to type.

2. HUGE apologies to Joyce Jackie. In my defence, I never spent that much time with her, but I did spend the entire day calling her Joyce to everyone else. They all must have thought I was a moron.

Jackie, Did I call you Joyce to your face? I hope not. If so, I am sorry.

I hope I can make it up to you by NOT mentioning that you DNF’d leg 7 with a case of ‘Bad PB Sandwich’ Stomach. image

It’s especially bad since we have a friend in common on FB who we both post comments to. Where were you when I needed you Facebook Friend Suggest? Hmmm? Anton Krupica should be my Friend and not Joyce Jackie? Did you also notice that on the way to the race I made Twitter friends with her, and STILL got her name wrong all day! 


3. I want to yammer on about my experience at the race. All the training woes aside, I loved all of it. It’s a little nerve racking (sp) running on a team that you never met before. My personality enables it to look easy, but have visions of high school all over again (hey guys, whatcha talking about? Hey guys, maybe I can come along this weekend, oh you aren’t doing anything this weekend again? oh, ok… )

Turns out everyone is pretty awesome. Even Clint, Dan and Joyce Jackie, who were nice enough to humor me as I ooohed and aaaahed about the course. Probably a few eye rolls at the expense of this noob, but I can take it. Get to know me and you’ll realize I ALWAYS ohh and ahh about cool shit.

I met Dan briefly. Apparently he had an epic hard run in Leg 10. I hope one of my teammates, or Dan can fill me in on the details so I can tell the internet. I did enjoy Kraigs company for a good part of the day and I did see him get the hand off from Susan, but still need his report. Dean and Joel were cool (Father and son). Dean has organized this team for a few years, and Joel is a sacrificial lamb that runs Leg 6 each year (1200’ of elevation drop in 9kms, he is young and recovers in a couple days where the rest of us would be broken for weeks). I had the pleasure of supporting Susan who is a pretty cool chick. You’ll meet more of them in Part 2 of the Race report. Anita was great and ambitious and ran a really tough leg.

Edit: Dan reported on his Leg 10. I have a bit of a hard time feeling bad for him. He ran a 18k muddy hilly trail in 1:18. I will include his email in Part two of the race report.

Ok. I was really upsetting myself over this run. It a really big all day commitment (weekend for some) that you really can’t take lightly, competitive or hobby runners. It got to the point of almost bailing altogether, but my nature wouldn’t allow me to do this. So what did I do? I decided on a ‘Fuck it’ attitude and just decide to let the chips fall where they may.

I committed fully to the run, to the support, and to the event. I think that was the key. Fuck it, I am going to leave at 4am and get there for Joanne and Daren. Fuck it, I am going to restock my amazing photo supply with pictures of this run and the scenery surrounding it, Fuck it, I am going to run the shit out of my leg and if I collapse trying, so be it. Fuck it, I am here I might as well enjoy myself.

Success on all fronts. It was pretty cool. I don’t spend entire Saturdays away from my family much, and that was in the back of my mind too. Traci is a stay at home mom and has full time ‘with child’ job. She loves every minute, but relies on me to enjoy some ‘Sausage party’ bonding with the me and the boy on the weekends so she can have some quality quite time (or just work on the laundry with out the ‘Why’ machine under foot all the time). I figured I was out there, might as well give my all to the event.

Speaking of the event again. The team concept is pretty foreign to a runner for the most part, but you can tell a lot of the teams have been doing this race for a LONG time and really enjoy this day to the fullest. I spoke to a woman at one point who has run all the legs at least once and is now on her second go-round. You can tell the ones that make this one of their annual goal races. They are the ones who dress up, travel together in a van, cheer relentlessly for anyone running (and cheer harder for those who are walking), the ones who paint their support vehicles and honk at everything! Teams like these ladies.


It was cool because later I had them as a cheering squad! Barefoot rules. You can be a slow, out of shape runner, and still get an entire race of people cheering for you. I smile and say thank you and tell them to google Barefoot Neil Z as they might be on the internet that night!

Check out this video I made of the start, middle and end of my leg. The group above actually made up a cheer for me.

4. My feet. My feet are great. 14kms, no matter the hills, are just fine. 14kms for me now is very doable under any circumstance, as this race proved. Even though it was uphill for most of the leg, it was still just 14kms. Remember back on  May 1st? I ran 31kms barefoot, so this was nothing. That was my mindset, that it’s only 14kms and I can do this in my sleep. People are still amazed by my bare feet too.  The most common questions was “Don’t your feet hurt?”, nope, its everything but my feet, haha. I guess people are amazed still, especially when I do out of the norm races like this one. Many of the main races in Calgary, well they kind of expect me there now…

It surprises me a bit, still that people are surprised with  my barefeet. I guess I may be the only one who follows it. Like really, if you didn’t barefoot yourself, why would you pay attention to any media on it. I like that I am still a novelty, I have met the most amazing people because I run sans shoes.

5. I blame the running room for my lack of training commitment. If they were a little more open minded to my desire to inspire (hehe, it rhymes), I would still have a club to run at in south Calgary. It’s just very inconvenient to head into the city from the far out there suburbs for a 1/2 hour run with a different group. When we sell the house and move into the city again I think that will all change. I get MANY options of running clubs/ groups. Now who wants me, and do you have an indoor running track that allows barefoot? (MRU, Oval) . I will qualify tho, that getting kicked out of the RR is what launched this mildly popular blog and all the good stuff that came along with it…

6. Thanks you so much to GUEnergy who sent me a big bag of GU gels for everyone on the run, and for that matter, thanks to everyone who supports my running, especially my family. Couldn’t do it with out you. Tuesday is Traci and my 14th anniversary! Love you Sweetie! Here is one of her favorite photos I have taken…


7. VOTE FOR ME! I can win cyber cash! If you like the picture, go to this Fathers Day facebook contest at and click VOTE! it’s easy, so do it for me!

Fathers Day

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…