8 hour run completed – now it’s taper time!

In training for the Knee Knacker Race, I completed a new personal best this week – longest trail run. The route covered the first 37km of the 48 km race, and will be my longest run leading up to race day in less than 3 weeks. It was a great opportunity to see what the first 37km of the race looks like all in one go.

This brings my 2015 mileage up to 760 kilometers. That’s about the distance from Prince George to Vancouver via Whistler, which one can drive in a day. So really, not that impressive. Anyhow, let’s talk about that long run…


The night before I like to pack up my kit so I don’t have to think in the morning. That means stuffing 1,600 calories worth of food into my hydration pack. What does 1,600 calories of running food look like? In my case, it looks like this:

Training FoodOkay, okay, let’s talk about the run.

Leg 1 – Horseshoe Bay to Cypress Mountain (3 hours cutoff)

Horseshoe Bay to Cypress ElevationDoesn’t that elevation profile look like fun? Yeah! Fun!  It’s never a good sign when  all you can think of as you’re climbing is “I should have had a massage this week, my legs are tight!”. Okay, so climbing, lots of climbing, then at kilometer 8, you get this view of Howe Sound from Eagle Bluffs:

Eagle Bluffs

Which you are almost tempted to savour until you realize, motherf****r, I have 29 kilometers more to run, no time to dawdle. (No really, I didn’t even take this photo while on the run. This photo is from my run on June 7th, where I ran the first half of the course and then climbed up the BCMC, because training).

On race day I have 3 hours to make it from Horseshoe Bay to Cypress Mountain. If I don’t, I get pulled off the course, and then I’d be sad. So happily, on Sunday, I made it to Cypress in under 3 hours – go me! I *just* need to replicate this performance on race day.

Leg 2 – Cypress Mountain to Cleveland Dam (“I thought this was supposed to all be downhill?”)

Cypress to Cleveland Dam ElevationI just made it to Cypress in under 3 hours, now you want me to climb for another half hour? Geez man. So after half an hour of climbing, the trail is generally all downhill to Cleveland Dam.

There are a lot of turns on this trail from about Cypress Cross Country Ski area to Cleveland Dam. I have made the wrong turn many many times. So I expended a lot of mental energy figuring out if I am on the right trail. Which means no zoning out because I have to be present during this whole downhill section. I am hoping this section will feel a bit easier on race day, as the route *should* be well flagged.

Cypress to CD

I stumble a lot on this section and have to repeat my downhill mantra “pick up your feet; pick up your feet”. Easier said than done.

Leg 3 – Cleveland Dam to End of the Line Cafe (via Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge)

Cleveland to Lynn Elevation
Looking at this elevation profile makes my knees hurt. There was a lot of up, and down, and up and down. Ouch.

One of our training buddies ended her run at Cleveland Dam. She then drove to the store, picked up a few bottles of coke and dropped them off for us as we walked up Nancy Green Way to Grouse Mountain. A true trail angel!

I do not enjoy the part of the race route from the base of Grouse Mountain to Mountain Highway. Which is unfortunate, because that stretch took me 1hr50mins to complete on Sunday. That is a long time to not be enjoying yourself. After Mountain Highway, it’s all good.

Finally, we pop out of the forest onto Lynn Valley Road. From here I took the Varley trail (finally, a beautiful, flat, runnable trail) to pipe bridge, crossed it, hopped on the Baden Powell to the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. This is the official end of the training run, but there is good food (and an Express Bus to Vancouver) waiting for me at the End of the Line General Store.  So I continued for another kilometer to End of the Line.

Closing Thoughts

  • A sincere apology to anyone on the 210 Express Bus to Vancouver between 4:56pm and 5:26pm on Sunday.  The stench on the bus was the smell of a women who ran through the forest for 8 hours.
  • Things that bother you on a normal run do not bother you on a long trail run. Got debris in your shoe? Oh well, your feet are going to blister somewhere, it’s just inevitable.
  • I think I can say that I feel confident that I can complete all 48km of the race route on race day. I seem to have my nutrition sorted, my gear sorted and I know the race route quite well. Fingers crossed that all goes well on July 11th!

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