Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Shanda Hill: Redefining Limits


in 2003 Shanda Hill was riding her bike home when was struck by a truck, flew 30 feet in the air, and suffered a traumatic brain injury. After clawing her way back from the depths of hell she started putting one foot in front of the other and the rest is history. Tune in to find out how she became an ultra marathon runner and a Deca Ironman World Champion (that's the same as 10 Ironmans!!!).

Don't forget to subscribe and rate the show!


Check out this episode!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Finding Inspiration and starting a new project!!!

Inspiration - what has been inspiring you lately? Does anyone else constantly delete and re-download Instagram from their phones? Over the last several months I was having a love hate relationship with social media. I was wasting so much time just scrolling and watching story after story. So I took a break. I deleted IG and FB off my iPhone. I kept FB on my iPad and would check in from time to time but getting it off my phone significantly reduced the amount of time I spent on it. I'd find myself reaching for my phone to check IG, out of habit, only to realize that I had deleted it and then id put the phone down and figure out another way to fill the time/silence.

It's interesting nowadays how tied we are to our devices. Why sit there and do nothing when we could be scrolling IG. We live in a day where we can be stimulated and entertained at all times - while we cook, in grocery line-ups, going to the bathroom, elevator, waiting rooms etc etc etc. 

I decided to delete the apps because I was having a hard time coming up with my own inspiration. It's interesting you know, I didn't miss it. Not one bit. It was actually really fun not knowing what everyone was up to all the time. It was nice going out for runs or skiing and not bringing my phone with me. If I did, I wasn't with the sole purpose of posting it to IG. 

In this time I discovered podcasts. I became obsessed with podcasts. I love listening to interviews. I find people so incredibly fascinating. The journeys that people take to becoming who they are is such a fun tangled web of experience. Every experience breaths life into the next one - paths take twists and turns on the journey to becoming who we are today. The cool thing is that the journey isn't over and where we are today may be very different from where we are tomorrow.

A few of my favs: Arm chair expert, Rich Roll, any of the ultra running ones, and girls gotta eat (thanks Tory). 

At some point I got this idea that it might be fun to start a podcast. I used to interview people for a newsletter I used to write for North Shore Athletics and some for my blog. The last one was an interview I did with Pam Smith - before she won the 2013 western states 100. I had a feeling she would win and because iRunFar hadn't interview her, I figured I would! This one with Ellie Greenwood is entertaining too (pre-100 milers)! Of course, I am notorious for coming up with ideas and never implementing them. Usually I go out for a run, get so amped on an idea, and come back and tell Peter about another thing I'd like to do. Then the high fades and it gets added to the imaginary list of things I don't actually do. Anyone else get grandiose ideas while running? 

Six weeks ago I was sitting in the waiting room of my Chiro appointment. I had my phone but I had deleted the social media apps so I had nothing to keep me distracted while I sat there patiently. I looked over to the magazine rack and noticed a program calendar for courses at the local College. I opened it up and was so surprised at all the continuing education courses they offered. You could literally learn about anything...EVEN PODCASTING! I couldn't believe it. Needless to say I sneakily ripped the page out of the magazine and signed up for the 2 night course. I felt a lot of excitement being in school again, especially because I was learning something totally unrelated to my work - a passion project if you will. The course gave a very basic intro into how to start a low cost podcast. I really enjoyed it but I soon realized there was a lot still to learn. 

Never in my life (outside of actual school) have I spent so much time researching how to do something. I literally started from scratch. I have no tech background, so I had to teach it all to myself. I wanted to throw in the towel at one point because it seemed silly to invest a lot of money into something I didn't even know if I would enjoy and something I wasn't deriving any revenue from. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I didn't want this to be another idea that just gets washed down the cascading waterfall of forgotten one's. So I went out and invested in some gear.



My podcast is called Journey to Ultra. It's about people's journeys to becoming the incredible humans they are today and what led them to ultra running. As my interest is running, the podcast will be mainly about ultra runners, however really it can be anyone doing ultra incredible things. I'm inspired by all kinds of people these days and I'm excited to connect and share stories.

I chose Peter Watson (my partner) to be my first guest. Firstly, because I had easy access to him (no pun intended) and it was fun to test out my gear and fail a few times before getting it right.

Click here to check out the podcast 

Follow @journeytoultrapodcast on Instagram!

If you know of anyone you think would make a great guest or any topics you think would be interesting for the show please email nicola.gildersleeve@gmail.com.

I hope you enjoy it!

Nicola





Peter Watson: turning loss into a life of adventure



Peter grew up living on the North Shore and has been adventuring/mis-adventuring in the mountains from a very young age. After losing his best friend in an avalanche at 18 years old, Peter finds himself a little lost. In 2002 he finds himself working at the local running shop and gains an entry into his first ultra marathon with only 2.5 weeks notice. Catching the bug, Peter sets his sights on the Western States 100. Tune in to find out how it all played out.

Don't forget to subscribe!

Happy trails,

Nicola Gildersleeve


Sunday, June 4, 2017

WILDHORSE 50K RACE REPORT

When I moved to Vernon I was really excited to check out some of the races that are local to the Okanagan. We are really lucky here because there are a couple of trail racing companies that put on races. I have long heard of the P.A.C.E trail running series and had yet to check it out! Wildhorse 50k would be my first shot.

I haven't laced up my ultra shoes since September 2016 when I did the Golden Ultra and I've really been looking forward to getting back at it. A lot of the 50k's in our area are double 25k loop courses and that is why the Wildhorse 50k really caught my eye. A point to point trail run from Kelwona to Naramata. Yeehaw!

Note: If you are planning to have a car at the finish there is a shuttle that meets you at the finish (very early 5am-ish) and takes you to the start race morning. That means a 3am wake up to get to Penticton in time to catch the shuttle. Luckily, Peter drove me to the start line and picked me up at the finish. Another good thought is to camp right at the finish in Naramata and save yourself the morning drive.

The start at Bertram Creek Park, Photo: Peter Watson
The race starts at Bertram Creek Park in Kelowna right down at the beach. There's a short climb up from the beach to the road and then a few nice easy k's along the road to the trail. The road parallels Okanagan Lake and the views are very beautiful. I found myself in the lead pack of women. There were 5 of us. My friend Tory Sholtz had mentioned that her friend Becky Bates was running the race too and so I asked the group if there was a Becky among us...and there was! Becky is a 55 year old Bad ass living in Kimberly, BC. She said she used to climb quite competitively but has only been running about 3 years. She is training for the Hardrock 100 which she got into...through the lottery! It was her first time applying and she had a 0.8 chance of being selected, How cool!

The 5 of us started up the trail together and my training buddy Tom Craik was right behind us. Tom and I shot the shit for a bit as we made our way up the steep climb. Eventually the trail began to flatten out and I passed 3 of the women and was now running in second. Oh and Becky, she gapped us super fast going up the first climb and was out of sight pretty quick. After the climb you drop down a bit and end up on a flatter section of trail which consisted of mud puddle after mud puddle. These puddles were long and deep and made for some interesting travel. I didn't mind though! The gnarlier the better. After many km you climb back up a bit and drop back down 200m to the first aid station which was at 21km. This aid station was a re-route from where it was originally supposed to be at 7km.

Aid # 1 was pretty cool. The volunteers boated and jet skied supplies into the aid station and due to flooding we were warned of a chest deep swim to get to the aid. However, there was a really long downed log that allowed us to avoid getting wet. I was very appreciative of that! I filled up my pack with water and grabbed some gels and got out of there. The aid station is an out and back so I got to see how far ahead Becky was. I wouldn't say she was more than a minute or 2 ahead before I got to the aid station. Adria Snowden, who was in 3rd, left the aid station just behind me. We climbed back up out of the aid station together and chit chatted/ran for a while. The next 13km were the toughest of the day. We were really lucky weather wise. It could have been smouldering but there was some nice cloud cover which kept the temperatures at a reasonable level for the Okanagan. Adria and I leap frogged a few times going up the climb with me taking the lead on the descents. She pulled ahead just before aid #2.

I was almost out of water by the time I got to aid # 2. It was also around this time that I started to get the gurgles in my throat. I don't know how to describe it but it sucks and I suffer from this in most of my long races. I think if I knew how to burp I could calm it but I've never had that skill. I may be the only person I know that doesn't know how to burp. Any tips?

From Aid #2 to the finish is 16k of "easy" running. It reminds me of the last 10km of the chuckanut course. It's easy miles but mentally it's challenging. For those of you not familiar with Chuckanut, it's a flat wide gravel path to the finish. Once we got onto he KVR I believe it's a 2% grade downhill. Adria, another gentleman, and I left Aid # 2 together and pretty quickly I put a gap on them. Really quickly I stopped to pee and noticed the guy (didn't get his name) go by. He laughed to himself as he passed and later told me he laughed because Adria had also pulled over to pee at the same time. Quickly after my pit stop I passed the guy and was running solo. My energy levels felt good and I was ready to rock this last section. My energy surge faded very fast and the gels I was taking weren't perking me up for very long. My throat gurgling wasn't helping my want to ingest calories but I was forcing them down every 20-30 min in the hopes of getting some energy.

I can't remember exactly when it happened but Adria passed me. I would say it was with roughly 6-7km to go. However for those 6-7k she was never out of sight. Just after the last said station at 46k my quads started twinging. Shoot! I slammed some salt pills and hoped for the best. They continued to twinge any time I tried to run faster so I compromised to just keep trucking. We finally got off the KVR and began our descent (on the road) to the beach/finish. We winded our way down towards the beach and I swear the twists and turns kept coming and this race was never going to end. My watch said 50k and the volunteer said 1km to go! Up ahead, I could see Adria was cramping to and was reduced to a limp but then she'd start to run again. My heart wanted to run faster but my muscles were't so into that. There was a tiny minuscule hill just before the last descent to the finish and as I went to run it, both my medial quad muscles cramped and I had to walk it.



I crossed the line in 5:32, 40 seconds behind Adria (10 minutes behind Becky) good enough for 3rd place female and 9th overall. I was greeted with a giant hug from RD Rene Unser and was gifted (as all racers were) a nice bottle of Tinhorn Creek wine.

That race had it all. Amazing views, challenging course, and required a good amount of mental toughness. Initially the course was 45km but due to the flooding it was re-routed and became 50 (maybe 51km). I highly recommend it to everyone! The complimentary lunch at the finish was gourmet and amazing and Tinhorn Creek and Elephant Island wine were there sampling wine.

You can camp or stay in cabins right at the finish line and there's a lake for swimming to.Thanks to all the amazing volunteers that helped make this event so awesome. Thanks again to La Sportiva for all your support. I love knowing that I don't have to worry about my feet.

Gear:

La Sportiva Helios SR - I love these shoes. They were perfect for the conditions and I finished with no blisters and no falls!

La Sportiva Speed T-Shirt - I love the front zipper for that extra ventilation!

La Sportiva Snap Shorts - so many awesome pockets!

La Sportiva Trucker Hat - It was awesome to dip in streams to cool off!

Next race: Slay the Dragon 50k, July 1st, Silverstar mountain, Vernon, BC.


Monday, May 15, 2017

DIRTY FEET KAL PARK 25K

My first race of 2017!!! Eeek :)

Last year I raced very little, I think twice. This year I vowed to step it up a little bit so I signed up for 3 races...ha! I write my board exams for Massage Therapy in September so I am packing all of my racing in before July as to have ample time to focus on passing my board exams. I'll most likely do more racing after that but nothings on the schedule.

Last year I won the Kal Park 25k and was excited/nervous to test myself out on this course again. However, due to a trail closure, we would be running an old version of this race. I was totally stoked on this because new to me trails are always a blast. Peter and I joked about this being a "C" race, as in, let's "C" what I can do.

I woke up Saturday morning feeling a bit unmotivated or maybe subconsciously I was nervous for the run. The thought of racing is sometimes daunting when you haven't done it in a while. Last year I biked to and from the event and I took great pride in having done my first race completely self-propelled. The thought of doing that again gave me my mojo back so I decided to run to the event, which is roughly 9k from home. I'm also running a 47k race on June 3rd and really needed to get in a higher mileage day.

It was a beautiful sunny (with clouds) kinda day and my warm-up run felt pretty good. I got to the race with roughly 25 minutes to spare. Enough time to pick up my package, catch up with friends and hit up the little girls room in the bushes. Before I knew it, we were off!

The first 8k or so is mostly climbing. I'm never the first one up the hill. This year, I got to the top of the hill in roughly 6th place. As we began a small descent I passed the next female (Narumi) at the exact same place I passed her last year. We exchanged some nice words and I continued my chase. I passed 2 more females going down Parabola, which is one of my favorite steeper downhill sections. The trail meanders flat and downhill a bit longer before skipping across the Cousen's bay parking lot and over to the other side of Kalamalka Park.

Photo: Claudia Richard
I was getting into a nice groove and feeling good and was nearing the first aid station at 12.5k (half way). Sometimes the problem with having a trail race in your own back yard is you are used to the way the trail typically goes to a certain place. There is a set of switchbacks that go up to the aid station but as I began on the last switchback I realized there was white chalk blocking the way. It was then I realized I was off course. I re-traced my steps and realized they cut the switchbacks off early and diverted the runners on a narrow steep trail that just went straight up to the aid station. I had never taken that off shoot before. It didn't cost me too much time but when I got to the aid station, 2 women that I had previously passed were now ahead of me and weren't stopping to fill up water like I was.

Photo: Claudia Richard
This error messed with my head a bit. I couldn't believe I didn't see the turn off. At any rate I kept going to the best of my ability. I was heading into an area of Kal park I had never been and the trails were really fun. It was wet and muddy! Good coastal conditions. There was one guy ahead of me and he was tip toeing around all the flooded trails but I enjoyed barreling through them. I didn't see another female for quite a while which made sense because we were on a long uphill section. I was hoping I wasn't losing too much ground because there was a nice juicy descent coming up. Just before the descent began I could see another female up ahead. I caught her not long after the descent began and wondered if I would ever see the other women who were ahead. This downhill is so fun and goes on for a while. Towards the bottom I spotted 2 women and a man. They seemed to be running together. I caught up to them and ascended with them to the aid station. This is the same aid station as before- you hit it twice in this race. At this point there was 5km to go. I stopped to fill up my water bottle and no one else stopped.


At this point I was in flight or fight mode and I wanted to catch and pass these ladies. I caught them both on the short descent from aid station and knew it was time to put the legs into high gear. I had a 1 km flat section, 1 km meandering uphill and 2km flat and downhill to the finish. If I could just hold them off to the top of the hill I knew I had them beat. I cruised the flat section, although I got stopped in my tracks by 3 people horseback riding. They politely moved out of the way and I continued on, As I made my way up the final switchbacks I could see one of the girls was on the switchback below. This only gave me more fuel for the fire. The next 2km I ran as hard as I could and was able to hold them off all the way to the finish. I finished in a time of 2:28 and 2nd female.


It felt really good to race again. I enjoyed running my own race at the beginning and then switching gears and having to work hard at the end. The competitive mental game is always a fun experience and something I just don't get very often in training (I train solo a lot of the time)

Thank you Dirty Feet Trail Series for putting on a great event. I'm looking forward to checking out some of your other events soon too!

My La Sportiva Helios were the perfect shoe for the day (and for everything).

My next race is The Wildhorse 45km on June 3rd. It's a point to point event from Kelowna to Naramata. 

Happy Trails!

Monday, October 10, 2016

THE GOLDEN ULTRA: 3 DAY STAGE RACE

I signed up for the Golden Ultra way back in the spring. After moving to Vernon at the end of August (2015) I decided I would try and do some races that were more local to me. This was only my second race in the past year! I had a pretty fun 2 months off school and spent most of it gallivanting from one adventure to the next. I was feeling confident that I had done enough to toe the line at this event.

Day 1: BLOOD, 1000m of gain over 5km

I had no idea what to expect from this run. Uphill events are definitely not my strong suit. I've always looked at going uphill as a means of getting to go back down. But there would be no down...only up. I didn't really prepare myself for how steep the climbs would be. Maybe that was a good thing!

The race started at 4pm on Friday night from the base of Kicking Horse Mountain. The energy was really great and it was fun to catch up with some friends who were up from the coast doing the race.

To sum, you go straight up a ski slope for 5 km and in that 5 km you gain 1000m. Of course, there were times we were running/hiking on a logging road style of road which linked up the horrendously steep ski hill climbs together. It was pretty much head down, hands on knees and power hike. I was aiming for a pace that was hard but not blow myself up on day 1 hard. I seemed to be leading a train of men which kept me on my toes.

Day 1: 1000m of ascent over 5km. Photo by: Jay Klassen
I found myself in 3rd place and could see 2nd place ahead of me. I didn't want to go any faster and was happy to let her be ahead of me/ I couldn't of catched her even if I tried. Turns out 2nd place was Joanna Ford, who I ran some miles with a year earlier at Fat Dog 120. Alicia Woodside was out of sight and leading the women's race! The last 1.5k were on beautiful rocky single track trail and that was by far my favorite part of day 1's course. I finished up 3rd female in a time of 1:05.

It was a bit chilly at the top of the Gondola so Alicia, Katie Wadden and I jumped in an outdoor hot tub at one of the hotels at the base of Kicking Horse. This was incredibly amazing. Eventually we changed and made our way over to the Friday night pasta dinner and awards ceremony.


Day 1 podium. Joanna Ford, Alicia Woodside and me! Photo by: Jay Klassen
Day 2: SWEAT, 60km, 2500m of ascent

The start of this race was right in town down by the foot bridge. At 7:30am it's a bit of an early start but judging by last years finish times, we needed it! My legs were feeling pretty good from the previous days effort and I was excited to explore 60km of beautiful Golden trails. We started off running along a gravel path that parallels the stunning Columbia River. After roughly 1km we pounded the pavement very briefly before heading into the trails.The first 20km or so were awesome! The trails were flowy and fast however they lacked much in the way of elevation gain and I kept wondering where that gain was going to come from. I had been told that you basically go uphill for 34km but so far it didn't seem this way. Then all of a sudden the vertical came...and came...and came. I had been running with Joanna Ford for a descent amount of today's run and our chit chatter came to a bit of a hault. We stayed together for a little bit but eventually she passed me and was quickly out of sight. 

I can only describe the ascents as relentless. Once we started going up it didn't stop for a good 14km...or so it felt! However, there was so much beauty to distract your mind/body from the task at hand. The canyons and the ridges are simply spectacular. You'll just have to go experience it for yourself! 

Beautiful trail cut into the ridge line. Photo by: Jay Klassen 
Needless to say I was more than ecstatic to reach the top of the gondola where there was an aid station. Joanna was just leaving the aid station as I made my way up to it. Seeing her didn't make me rush out of there however...I just needed a minute to get myself together and prepare to switch gears for a long descent down the mountain. The descent immediately after the aid station is awesome- rocky, bouldery fun! However the downhill mountain bike trail to the base of kicking horse was a bitch! I realize I am starting to sound whiny but man this run was just kicking my ass. The trail was groomed and steep and I wasn't really even running. I was simply breaking and preventing myself from barreling down the hill ha. However, I am sure the pounding on my quads was made ever more potent from the fatigue I experienced from the ascent. The good thing is, that section was pretty short! I finally got to the parking lot at the base of kicking horse mountain and was directing into the trails by a woman dressed up as a giant lobster. That made my day! 

Once I got into the trail I began to walk. I must have been in a real funk or perhaps I just needed to give my legs a minute to adjust for what was to come...a lot of actual running. I had 20km of rolling single track ahead of me and I was pretty excited about it. After a couple of minutes I pulled my big girl pants and ran...slowly, ha! The next 20km were fantastic. I was strong enough to run the majority of it and I even made a friend! His name is Sean who is currently living in North Vancouver which is my old hood! He was having a bit of a hard time but I thought he was moving well. He was moving well enough that I didn't want to pass him. We ran the last 10km or so in the vicinity of each other. Once we finally reached the road with 2 km to go he thanked me for getting him there. I found this rather confusing because I ran behind him the entire time and it felt like I should be thanking him for pushing me to this point! The last 2 km on the road/gravel path were rather enjoyable. I felt strong in those last few km and was stoked to be crossing this finish line. I guess my lack of racing this year had made me a bit soft. This run was challenging and I'll remember it for a long time...or at least until the next adventure that kicks my a$$. I ended up 3rd female again today in a time of 7:23. 

Stage 2: Top 3 females


STAGE 3: TEARS, 20km, 620m ascent

At first I thought stage 2 should have been called ``Tears``. However, it all made sense when I woke up on Sunday morning to an aching body, wondering how I was going to race 20km. The good news is, I wasn't alone because most people were hurting. I started off pretty conservatively and just allowed my body to find its natural rhythm. Again, Joanna and I were pretty close together and I ran pretty close behind her for the first half of the race. Alicia, who had been feeling nauseous the day before was way out ahead and I assume Katie Mills, who won stage 2,  was as well. All of a sudden though her and another guy were right behind me. I guess they had taken a wrong turn which had costed them about 5 minutes. I tried to reassure her that she would most likely hold onto 1st place overall no matter what she placed this day because she had a huge lead going into stage 3. Her and I ran together for a short while and then I let her go ahead of me. At this point, I was pretty happy with where I was at. I knew barring any disasters I had locked in 3rd place overall and I wasn't about to make up 12 minutes to take second place. I was feeling surprisingly good (once I warmed-up) which allowed me to run most of the rolling terrain. I really just wanted to run happy, or as my friend Hozumi calls it "comfortably efficient". I came in 4th female for this stage and 3rd female overall. Click here for full results.

I am pretty happy with how the weekend turned out. I got to explore new trails in a wicked place and catch up with friends and make new ones! The race was very well organized and the volunteers were outstanding. On day 3 there was a volunteer jumping up and down in the forest as she cheered us on. She was still jumping and cheering upon my return through that trail some 15km later. It's people like that who make me smile.

Thanks so much to Magi and the Golden Ultra crew for creating an amazing race! I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone! If you are someone who likes a challenge, you will most certainly find it here!

Alicia, Katie and I stayed at the Glenogle Mountain Lodge and Spa, which is owned by a wonderful lady named Doris and her husband. They are a German couple who built the resort. I believe it is for sale. Doris was such a delight and even made us complimentary traditional German fried pancakes on Sunday morning. We ate them after the run and they were sooooo amazing!

GEAR:

SHOES: Helios SR and women's Helios 2.0 - I like the Helios SR if I am on more technical terrain and the women's Helios if it's non-technical or shorter distance.

SHIRT: I really am obsessed with the La Sportiva Speed T-Shirt. I love having a zipper on the front in case I get really hot, which I always do.

TANK: I love the La Sportiva Sprint Tank. It's super light and comfortable.

ARM WARMERS: If you don't own the La Sportiva Ultra Arm Warmer, GO GET THEM! You can get them at Capra Running in Squamish! Highlights: they include mitts, thumb holes, and a spot for your watch to pop out so you can still read it while you're running!

TRUCKER HAT: I just love a good trucker hat while I am racing.

HYDRATION PACK: Ultimate Direction Jenny Pack.

SOCKS: Defeet Monkey and Donut socks.

Happy Trails!!!!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

STEIN VALLEY TRAVERSE...IN A DAY

This summer has been a real whirlwind of a good time. Essentially, I had 2 months off of school and I wanted to make the most of it. I had very loose plans and left my schedule open to bounce from one thing to the next and make random spontaneous decisions. It's been a gas and I now feel ready to go back to school!

THE STEIN AND "THE DREAM":

Long before Peter and I were together he had this dream of doing the entire Stein Valley Traverse in under 24 hours. He had attempted it a couple of times but fell short due to weather.   

Peter and I have been to the Stein Valley twice previous to this experience. He took me there when we first started dating (2008/09) and we did a 38km out and back run starting from the trailhead in Lytton. Peter has a deep love for the Stein Valley and I was stoked to be here with him. 

Fast forward 4-5 years (2013) and we found ourselves once again heading to the Stein Valley. This time we planned on fast-packing the entire 90ish km trail in 2 days. We went very light and fit everything we needed into 18L packs. We brought a 1 man-tent, jetboil stove, neoair matresses and shared a sleeping bag. We both drove to Lytton, dropped a car and drove the other to the Lizzy Lake trailhead in Pemberton. Due to some sore feet and a storm we ended up taking 2.25 days to do the entire traverse. We didn't care, we were stoked. This was the first time Peter had successfully gone from one end to the other and again I was elated to be sharing this experience with him. 

Fast forward another few years (2016) and we find ourselves hiking in the Monashees a week or so ago. It's our first time in the Monashees and we're blown away by how amazing it is and are stoked it's within an hour and half drive from our home in Vernon. Feeling inspired I began to contemplate how I wanted to spent the last week or so of my summer break and the Stein Valley Traverse in under 24 hours goal silently crept into my thoughts. There must have been something in the air because Peter says, "we could go do the Stein" and immediately I said "YES!!!!". We got back from our trip and the planning began. 

THE MAIN EVENT:

We left Vernon on Tuesday morning and dropped one car in Lytton. We then drove our other car to the Lizzy Lake creek trail head in Pemberton. Our scheduled departure time was 12:30am and we each managed a few hours of sleep before leaving. I had everything I needed in an old Salomon 13L vest pack and Peter was wearing a brand spanking new Ultimate Direction Fast Pack 20. We decided to do the first section in the night because it's pretty straight forward. When Peter first did this trail back in the 90's, you could drive a car 11km up to the road to the proper trail head. However, this road was washed out many moons ago and was never restored. When we did this section last time it was really overgrown and the dew factor made for a pretty wet event. Thanks to Richard So and the VOC, all but the last 1.5km were brushed...yipeee!!!


Photo by: Peter Watson

We made good time hiking our way towards the Cabin. The night sky was clear and hiking under the stars was immaculate. The navigation was pretty straight forward up to this point but we started running into some issues on Cheery Pip Pass before the descent to Cultha Lake. It was dark and foggy and we could hardly see through the glare of our headlamps. At this point, there were only cairns to follow for navigation and it was slow going. If you look at our GPS file, we were creating squiggles all over the map. Although it was slow going, Peter always had an idea of which direction we needed to head and we'd eventually pick up another Cairn and get back on track. I think it may have been helpful to have been doing this section in the daylight which would have meant starting at 1:30am...just a thought.


Photo by: Peter Watson
One aspect of the Stein that I love are all the boulder field crossings and there are a plenty. I cant imagine having a 50-70lb pack on (as most do) and maneuvering along them all. Kudos to those people! The boulder field traversing by Tundra Lake is by far one of my favorite sections of the entire trail. I have never seen a lake so blue. There are no words to describe the beauty of this lake. You'll have to go see it for yourself!

Tundra Lake. Photo By: Peter Watson
Before we knew it the skies had opened up (literally and figuratively) and we were heading into the exposed ridge traverse before the descent to Stein Lake. The ridge system reminds me of the false summits at the end of the Fat Dog 120 but MORE! I took stock of this last time I was here and had mentally prepared myself, however, there's always more than I think! The descent off the ridge is a bit hairy. The trail is STEEP and the ground is loose and route finding isn't easy. You are constantly losing the trail. You wont get lost here but route finding is just slow.

Photo by: Peter Watson
We were elated to arrive at Stein Lake. This would be our first intentional stop. We had done a measly 38km in almost 11.5 hours, which was an hour and a half faster than the last time we did it. Last year I had a friend tell me her and some friends (who had never been to the Stein) were going to run the stein and expected to do it in 11 hours. I warned them that I didn't think that was very realistic. If you were going after it, I think an extremely fit person with experience on this trail (and mountain experience) could complete it in roughly 16-18 hours.

Photo By: Peter Watson
The next 55ish km are pretty fun. There are no really big climbs or descents however the trail is constantly going up and down. You can definitely run along this section but not all of it. There are a ton of scree slopes and due to the rain that was falling the rocks were super slick. The river along the valley bottom is beautiful and the cable car crossings are a blast.

New trail work! Photo by: Peter Watson
The last time we were here the trail was in terrible shape. Due to a fire in 2009 the alder growth was horrendous and there were hundreds of downed trees. After that trip we decided we wouldn't come back until the trail was cleared. In fact we had just chatted about going in ourselves to help clean it up. Luckily, BC Parks had hired a crew to clear it this year. THANK YOU!!! The work they did was outstanding and the trail was incredibly enjoyable.

Photo by: Peter Watson
As with most long adventures, we got to a point where we were ready to be done. Night was coming and we had roughly 25km to go. The timing was tight and we had to keep on pace to ensure a sub 24 hour finish. We finished with 23 minutes to spare in 23:37! A 12 year long dream of Peter's was finally in the books. As far as we know (Peter did his research) this is the fastest known time for this trail. We are both keen to know just how fast it can be done! Who's up for it!?

MY GEAR:

La Sportiva Speed T-shirt: I love this shirt so much. When I first got into racing I wore a bike jersey because I liked the pockets in the back and the zipper in the front. It's great for cooling off!

La Sportiva Tech Trucker Hat: I like sun and rain protection and I feel cool when I wear it :)

La Sportiva Ultra Arm Warmer: These arm warmer's are so bad ass. The have a thumb hole and a built in mitt!! The mitt came in handy keeping my hands warm in the rain and protection on the scree/boulder fields.

La Sportiva Helios SR: These have been my go to shoe ever since La Sportiva discontinued the Crosslite. They are so light but have enough protection to be warn for the long haul.

Long-tights

Shorts

Petzl RXP: This is the new fancy version of the one I have.

Petzl spare battery: I love this!

Petzl e-light: This is an emergency back-up.

Defeet monkey socks: I seriously love these socks. I think they are made for cycling but I've been wearing this model of sock (images vary) for 10 years and rarely have foot/blister issues.

Patagonia Houdini windbrePaker: I just love this piece.

OR Helium Waterproof jacket: I love this jacket but it was almost too warm to wear it most of the time...even in the rain.

MEC Uplink Jacket: This is my all time favorite jacket. It was my really warm layer I brought. I ended up wearing it at night when it got really cold and it kept me super warm. I also used the same one on our PCT trip and it's still going strong!

Food: miss vickies Salt and Vin, PB and J wraps, assorted GU's and vanilla powerbar gels, cliff bars, assorted candy, honey stinger waffles.

Bear Spray! We hooted and hollered a lot too!

Pristine. I used this for all my water fills, however Peter didn't. He seems to be ok so far!

Peter carried the other essentials: bear bangers, sport shield, bivy sack, first aid kit, Delorme inReach, cell phone, leuko tape.

My next race is the Golden Ultra in 3 weeks time!!! So far I've only stopped in Golden for beer! I'm looking forward to actually checking out the trails!!!

Nicola