Well my friends, Know No Boundaries made it to Churchill, Manitoba for the 2015 running of the Polar Bear Marathon. It was ALMOST a bust as our luggage did not come in to Winnipeg, Manitoba until Thursday night (the 19th) & we had a 7:30 AM flight the next morning.
Arriving into Churchill , we got our first impression of the local weather. . . . . .
Sunny & warm!
After we got our luggage (you know, the luggage that almost wasn’t!), we headed off to the Tundra Inn in town.
Friday night, Albert Martens (our race director), gave us some words of wisdom & assigned us to our Support Vehicles.
After this, we headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep (really?)
A quick pre-start photo to be sure I had all that I needed.
(Can you say Brrrrrrrr?)
Race morning was not as windy, but every bit as cold. Temperatures at the start of the race were -8 F with a wind chill of -22 F.
After "Oh Canada" sung by the local children of Churchill, & a quick pre-start photo, we were off into the sunrise.
No fanfare, no starting clock, just a BANG of the shotgun & we were off; each of us keeping track of our own times.
I hung with a couple from S. Carolina as we shared a support vehicle (remember, there are BEARS OUT THERE!).
The sunrise was beautiful & it allowed all of the runners a glimpse of God’s beauty!
From town out to the airport road, it was mostly ice, so “running” was spotty at best. Most of us were just trying to stay upright.
Just past the airport road, the course turned to gravel, so the footing was much better.
As in all races, it is always good to read road signs & follow directions. Here is one sign that one doesn’t see every day!
Despite the temperatures, I was warming up pretty quickly, My balaclava was on, then off, then on, then off. My zipper was up, then down, then up, then down & my gloves were on, then off, then on, then off.
During one of the off times, I snapped a shot of my hand! WEIRD, EH?
Mid-race, the urge to take a Selfie was overwhelming.
Onward I ran, mostly toasty, but the tops of my feet were beginning to get cold & I was beginning to slow down (I always seem to be undertrained. I couldn’t imagine how I’d perform if I actually trained harder.). Note to Self: I noticed that with my thin Injinji socks + heavier wool socks, my Hokas were a bit snug; even before the race began. I suspected this would happen!
By the Half Marathon point, I was a bit farther behind than I cared to be & my feet were pretty cold. I decided to call it good at the Half Marathon point. I mean come on, less than 100 people in the world have ever run a marathon OR half marathon on the “edge of the arctic” here in Churchill.
Good thing we were in the van, eh?
(Bear: “Why do I always leave my can opener at home when there is food around?”)
Some photos courtesy of Power to Change Films.
The running of the 2016 Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd is now in the history books. What a a stellar event. It is a weekend long party with your Ultra Running family. Ken Childress (aka TrailZombie).
Choices for distances were 135 miles, 100 miles, 50k, 25k & a 10 miler (I think). In the past, the weather is generally typical, cool October weather however THIS WEEKEND, Mother Nature brought in unseasonably warm weather! It might have been close to 90 at one point. Like all ultras, the sought after prize, is a beautiful belt buckle!
In addition to the challenges already there from the race distances, dehydration & over heating brought on additional needs on which all off the runners needed to be aware of.
Indeed, the race was not without casualties. Several of the runners dropped due to dehydration & heat exhaustion. Some even worried TZ & his wife; Dana; who HAPPENS to be a nurse.
As the OLD Combs bridge has been demolished, the race course needed to be changed a bit. Starting off at the same place (Eagle Bluff), the course headed out onto Hwy 10, but shortly turned back in to cross the new bridge & eventually meet up with the original course. The 135 runners did a slightly different out & back making their way up & through JT Nickel Family Nature & Wildlife Preserve (only once) & then back, followed by 4 loops. The 100 & 50 mile runners, did not do the old Out & Back, but made their loops inclusive of a portion of the Preserve route.
Back at the Start/Finish, runners went back out & followed the original route. First stop - Mad Dog, ran by none other than Kevin Lemaster, his wife Ashley, their children & of course, the infamous Pumpkin; the Wonder Dog!
Where the old Out n’ Back aid station was, Them Idiots took over & made a great run at Mad Dog for one of the best aid stations (although Mad Dog still has the lead for now).
From here, runners make their way to Savanah Corner where John Nobles & his gang provided stellar service to all of the runners. Then it was off to East of Eden. At this point, runners had an option of doing the Great Gourd Challenge (practically a climb STRAIGHT UP) for approximately 1/4 mile. Susan Westmoreland was waiting at the top to great runners with a smile & a sweet Sweaty Band from Mile Junkie. Before making their way to their next rest haven, runners (except those running the 135 miler) made a bit of an Out & Back loop into the JT Kickel Preserve from the other side, before continuing along the usual route.
All along the course, it seemed to be one big party as you can see here by Chrissy Whitten’s, Christine Fischer’s & Friends’ expressions.
After Hard Up Ahead, runners had a bit of reprieve from the gravel roads & had about 3 miles of pavement (whew!) before making their way to Bathtub Rocks. Here, Ed Snow & Company served up great grub & plenty of liquids to stay hydrated. (Well at least SOME hydrated enough!)
Despite being busy running the race, TZ had a few minutes to get some work done in his “office”.
By the time runners got to Last Gasp, there was about 3.1 miles before reaching the Start/Finish.
It is here though, that the FIRST PHH Bandit Aid Station was - - Meego’s Cantina; complete with blender & almost a full bar!
Can you say Watermelon Margherita?
One GREAT MOMENT was Russell Bennet winning the Men’s 100 mile race!
This was Russell’s 3rd consecutive 100 miler in the same number of weekends.
And if this wasn’t enough excitement, Kathy Hoover (of Runner’s World Tulsa) &
Arnold Begay completed (4) consecutive 100 milers in the same number of weekends!
All three of them inspire me (& plenty of others) beyond measure!
And I need NOT FORGET to Thank
Sprouts Farmers Market (in Owasso, OK)
& Natural Grocers (in Tulsa, OK) for
donating a few cases of fruit for the runners.
Until next time - - -
The 2017 Ultra Cowboy Ultra 50km is in the books. Although we expected more runners, the dozen or so who did run were reward with a beautiful course. The course started off in the serene hand build western village of Prairie Song in rural Dewey, Oklahoma.
After a few opening comments from first time race director Ken Saveth & a blessing fromFather Michael Pratt, runners were off.
Weather at the start was hot, but cloudy & even a possibility of thunderstorms were expected later in the day.
From here, runners made their way out to Durham Road for about a mile & then back onto the dirt farm roads of the Doenges Brothers Ranch where they had their first aid station (approximately 3 miles in).
Out onto the ranch, runners experienced the beautiful "rolling hills" green fields, ponds & the occasional bovine onlooker.
The gravel farm roads made easier on the
feet at times, but also had its share of unevenness at times.
The expected thunderstorms that we hoped would cool things off never materialized. Instead, the sun came out making it hot & very humid!
After several miles running through the Doenges Brothers Ranch, runners made to Hogshooter Creek where a water crossing is always present. (the hoped for rain would have made the water crossing a bit more fun, but nimble runners could have made it across if they were creative.
After cooling their tootsies, runners came through the Ranch Headquarters where they were welcome by UltraGator Kevin Lemaster. This was approximately 7ith miles into the course.
A short mile & a quarter out & back got them back to the UltraGator aid station before running the course in reverse and back to the Start/Finish. The Star of the Day & the recipient of the funds raised was Ultra Cowboy Kelvin Reid.
Here is Kelvin "strutting his stuff" as he runs to themed course aid station now approximately 12ish miles in on the return. The hot, humid weather too a bit of a toll on Kelvin, but he was able pull out a 13 miler out of it!
Coming back onto Prairie Song, directions were obvious as one just needed to follow the arrow.
Out of the dozen or so runners, only TWO pulled off the full 50 km. The rest decided that 25 km (given the hot & humid weather) was enough.
Kudos to Polly Choate & Jess Reid for stellar performances!
And to TOP IT OFF, between Paragon Films (Kelvin's employer), friends of Paragon Films & Know No Boundaries, we
raised $10,000 to help Kelvin with his mounting medical expense!
Now THAT is something to Praise God about!
Pumpkin Holler continues to be a favorite race for us here at Know No Boundaries. It a perfect time of the year (October), is an amazing course run by great race directors & worked by equally amazing aid station volunteers. This year, we opted to run the 50km as our training has been off lately due to studies.
Our time on the trails allows us the prefect environment for contemplative conversations with God.
As always, we had great support from those companies with whom we partner with.
Although we were not able to run it this year due to being injured,we were excited this year as it will be in September rather than in June as it was in 2015 (remember last year? Tulsa was the 2nd HOTTEST CITY IN THE USA that weekend!). This year was much better weather!
The race course was a 25 mile loop through various parts of Tulsa. Runners had the option of running 25 miles, 50 miles, 75 miles or the full 100 mile distances. Although most runners choose to run the 50 miler, 17 runners ran the “whole enchilada”.
Matthew Riley took the win in a time of 21.20.06.
Throughout the day & through the evening, we drove toe course over & over again providing a roving aid station for any of the runners in need. Thanks to Sprouts Farmers Market in Broken Arrow, OK, we had plenty of fresh fruit as they donated a few cases of bananas and oranges.
Throughout the race & all through the night, runners & their pacers took advantage of any opportunity to hydrate & grab a bite to eat.
As the evening went on, the runners became strung out along the course so we began to drive the course in reverse. This way, we would be sure to catch all the runners that may (or may not) need something to eat or drink.
Thank you to all who supported this year's race.