Hallow’s Eve Trail Half Marathon – Race Recap

On Sunday morning, it was time for yet another race!  Shocker…

This time was a favorite fall trail race, on the North Shore, called Hallow’s Eve.  As I’ve run the 10km route 3 times previously, and with graduating to the longer distances this year, it felt only natural to take on the half marathon course.  I easily recruited Katy and Cathy to run it with me.

The short version :

A super technical and challenging course, this race offers a bit of everything, and is a blast to run in the fall, when the trails are wet, the mud and puddles are deep, and there’s virtually no way to stay dry and clean!

Spoiler alert : I finished the race in 2:25:27, which was good enough for 17th female out of 43, and 4/9 in my age group, and 54th out of 106 overall finishers.

Now, for those of you who want to read the extended version, here it is :

It wasn’t hard to get Cathy and Katy signed up to race with me, and it was even easier to come up with a costume idea for the 3 of us (thanks Mom!), but what was hard, was actually getting all 3 of us to the start line.

Unfortunately, Katy has been dealing with an injury since running the Surrey Half Marathon with mom and I at the end of September.  She hasn’t been able to run, and so a few days prior, she decided it was in her best interests to just come and spectate.

Cathy and I were still good to go, but on Saturday, Cath woke up feeling really sick, and had been fighting a lingering headache for over a week already.  On Sunday, she got up, still feeling sick, but decided it would be best for her to drop down to the 10km instead of the half marathon.

So, we were all there at the start, but Katy wasn’t able to run, and Cath had dropped to the 10km which had a different start time.  We did get this 1 photo which shows our awesome costume idea – a Canadian flag!!

9am, and we were promptly on our way.

I said hi to Chloe, you’ll remember her from my Meet Your Maker race, where I ran a good chunk of my 30kms with her, while she was taking on the full 86km adventure.  Chloe had said she was running easy; recovering from a cold and whatnot, but even with that, I wasn’t able to keep up with her for more than a few moments!  But, 5 Peaks photographer Rob Shaer, got this wicked shot of her :

When I came along this section, Rob was situated next to the fence in a crouch, and I didn’t even see him until I was on top of him, so I’m sure he has some pretty funny shots of me basically screaming in his face haha

The first bit of the race is an uphill road climb to get to the beginning of the trail.  Not exactly the easiest start for a race, but it does mean that the end is fully downhill.  Anyhoo, the first bit of this race was pretty standard for me, my legs felt better then the previous weekend, but starting uphill is never easy.  I was wearing a white shirt of Jay’s for the costume, and although it was comfy, it was too big, and didn’t have a pocket.  The pocket in my capris only holds 1 package of chews, and I was carrying 2.  Crap.  Realized my mistake within the first few steps, and had to stow a package in my bra, which did not feel great, and left some nasty chaffage marks.

As we headed into the trail, I knew the next section of trails fairly well.  A short section of crushed gravel, and then a twisty section filled with tons of mud piles and puddles, and then a super technical downhill section, followed by a bit of rolling hills, with lots of stairs, roots, rocks, and boardwalks.  In the super muddy/puddly section, I almost wish that it been raining.  Because it was dry this morning, everyone running around me was dodging puddles in an effort to keep their feet dry.  Which, realistically, over a 21 km plus trail run, when it pissed rain in the days leading up to the race, is NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.  So, I wish I had given my head a shake and gone straight through the puddles, since my feet did obviously get wet, and I could’ve saved time and energy that I wasted avoiding the puddles.  Funny enough, I knew I was doing this but that tiny chance that I could run through with dry shoes just stuck in my brain.

After the muddly/puddly section, was the awesome downhill section, and as you know, I’m a downhill runner, and the more technical the better, so I enjoyed this bit immensely.  Climbing stairs is never much fun, and other runners always seem to be stronger at it than me, so I lost a few people in the next section.  As we passed the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge, there’s a big set of stairs, and I put my head down, and climbed, it was definitely an advantage knowing these were the last stairs for a while.  Coming out of this trail is where the half marathon and 10 km course split.

We took a left, and headed onto Varley trail to the base of Lynn Headwaters – this is a runnable, rolling, semi-technical section.  Coming out in the parking lot of Lynn Headwaters, we took a sharp left, crossed the road and headed up some stairs.  This was the section of the course that I hadn’t run before.  I knew it went up, up, up, and down, down, down according to the elevation chart.  Looking back as I started climbing was a big group of people, including Greg, who is another twitter friend, who I got to meet in person at 5 Peaks Bunzten in September, and he is also running the Bellingham Trail Marathon in 2 weeks.

This section of trail was super technical, and lots of stairs, and did exactly what I thought it would; go up, up, up.  We came out on a road, and I assumed we’d be heading right back into the trail to start our descent, but that wasn’t the case, we actually headed up the road.  I switched back and forth from running slowly, to speed walking up this hill, and lost some ground during this climb.  It was frustrating not having any clue as to how long this climb was, and I found myself having a bad moment.  It was only maybe a 5-10 minute climb, and we took a right back into the trail.  Unfortunately, it went straight into technical awesome single track, and we were stuck in a line of about 8 runners.  It seemed as though almost everyone wanted to go faster, but couldn’t get past.  At least, I wanted to go faster, but there was no way I was going to be able to pass all the runners in front of me, especially given the wet and slippery circumstances.  So, I tucked in, and enjoyed the ride down.  I do wish I’d been able to get ahead and pick up my speed, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen.  I now know that I have to put my head down, and get my butt up that dirt road in order to give myself some extra space – good thing to be aware of for next year!

This was a great section, and at times we were running down a stream of water.  I was in between Greg and another runner, and the runner behind me complained that his feet got wet, to which Greg called back “if you want to stay dry, you are in the wrong place” which of course had us chuckling.  Especially since, Greg, seems to really love puddles – he doesn’t even try to avoid them, just splashes right through, which was evident following him down this trail.  Splish splash…

As our group came to the bottom of the trail, the man running behind me slipped on a boardwalk, and took a terrifying fall.  The sound was awful, but he managed to just land on his hip and do a bit of a slide, and was thankfully un-injured.  Nothing like a good crash to get the heart pumping.

Back up the road to Lynn Headwaters was the first aid station!  There was supposed to be another aid station where the 2 courses left each other, but it wasn’t there.  We found out afterwards that the company that normally volunteers and runs that aid station backed out, and there wasn’t time to re-organize it.  Unfortunate for runners expecting it, but at least for me, it wasn’t a big deal, as I was carrying my small Nathan handheld.

At the aid station, I re-filled my water bottle, and had 2 cups of coke.  I don’t find the coke to be a huge boost for me, but I do know it doesn’t hurt me, doesn’t bother my tummy at all, and I find it goes down easy during races.

From here, the course goes on a long-ish gradual climb on a crushed gravel path, before turning onto the Lynn Loop trail, that starts with a bunch more stairs and uphill climb, goes through a long section of technical awesomeness that is mostly flat, bit rolling, and then goes into a short technical downhill, followed by a fast crushed gravel downhill, that spits you back out on the main path, and just a few mins away from the gazebo at Lower Seymour.

During this section, I got chatting with a guy I’d been yo-yo’ing with all race long, who just happened to be an ultra marathoner, who had run many races, including some 100milers!  I didn’t catch his name, and I had to stop for a water re-fill at the aid station at the gazebo, and never quite caught back up to him.

At this point, Cathy had already finished her 10km race, in a time of 1:04:53, and Jay caught her finishing strong, despite feeling very badly.

I’d like to point out that her time was really excellent, I figure she probably had a mantra of “just get finished, and you can go back to bed” propelling her through the race, but whatever works, works.  And we have to give her props for getting out of bed in the first place.  Good job Cath!  Official stats : 10/31 females 30-39, 38th out of 94 overall runners!

I was feeling like my body needed a bit more fuel, so I had half a banana, 2 cups of coke, and re-filled my water.  Heading back into the trail, there’s a short flat path section, before it joins back up with the Baden Powell trail that we took on the way out, this time going down all the stairs instead of up!  During this section, I was totally alone, and I find that makes it harder to pick up the speed, and push the pace, especially on the more technical parts.  I got to the last climb of the day, which was the really fun technical downhill from the start of the race, and I put my head down, dug in, and tried to catch a girl in front of me.  We got to the top of the hill right next to eachother, and I pass able to pass her heading back into the muddy puddle section.  I knew it wasn’t very far to the finish from here, and I also knew that Greg was only a few minutes in front of me.  I decided to make it my goal to catch him.  I knew that he was not afraid of puddles, so I picked up the pace, and didn’t bother to do any puddle jumping, full throttle straight ahead!!

I came out of the trails, and back out onto the road, could see a few guys in front of me, but unfortunately, there was no other gear.  I am happy to state that I did not have a single person pass me from the last aid station to the finish, and I had maybe 3 or 4 kills during this time.

Jay caught some of the best costumes finishing ahead of me :

And just ahead of me – 3 girls I’d been yo-yo’ing with all race, and Greg finishing!

Just behind them was me, and I was pushing hard for a strong finish :

And at the finish line, Greg was there with a big hug for me!

So, overall, how’d I feel?  I felt WAY better than last weekend, but I still did not feel like my body was as “peppy” as I would’ve liked.  During the race, I was constantly checking in with myself, and basically the entire time I felt like “I am running fairly hard, I feel pretty good, but I feel like I could feel stronger, and in turn run faster.” Before the race, I had guessed that my time would be between 2:20 & 2:30, so being smack in the middle of that, was great, but I do wish I had overall felt stronger.

The best thought I came up with while running was that my legs and me resembled a bit of the NHL vs NHLPA, both sides want the world from eachother, and neither side is really listening, or willing to budge.  Basically, I want my legs to go out and kill almost every workout, with minimal recovery time, and my legs are basically saying “piss off” we aren’t going to work for free, give us the time off we deserve, plus lots of massages, hot baths, and sauna sessions wouldn’t hurt…oh and keep that damn foam roller away from us!  Basically.

My official results : 2:25:27, 17/43 females,  4/9 females 20-29, 54th out of 106 overall

All results can be found here.

Overall, how would I rate this race?

Terrain/Course/Difficulty : B+.  I knew almost all of this route and for the most part, it’s a fantastic route.  The only thing that I wonder about changing would be the start/finish.  It’s nice to have the community centre there, but heading straight up at the start is tough, and the tight right turn at the end is also very tough.  So, that’s really the only negative of this course.  It’s got a bit of everything – some gravel paths, lots of stairs, some great inclines and declines, some rolling technical sections, lots of mud and puddles, and a bit of road as well.  This course was definitely more difficult than Lake Padden, obviously the biggest difference is the climbs, and the time it takes to not only climb them, but also recover from the climbs.

Affordability and Value : A.  Early registration, which I took advantage of was $45, and you cannot go wrong with a trail half at that price!  There was Vega samples at the finish line, along with water, electrolyte drink, bagels, coffee, Halloween candies.  Only thing missing was chocolate milk – my fave post run recovery drink!  And maybe some hot soup, which is always a nice treat after a fall race!  We did not receive anything other than our race bib and safety pins – no samples, no magazines, nothing.  If that sort of thing matters to you.

Organization : B.  For those who don’t know, Run the North Shore was bought by 5Peaks, and this was the first time for 5Peaks running this particular event.  Keeping that in mind, it was an excellent first time job.  Not thinking about that, there was a few cracks; the missing aid station (it’s really too bad the sponsor backed out…), there was no pre-race email about package pick-up or last minute details – which really should have told runners about the lack of an aid station, so that they would choose the appropriate water system for them.  Personally I would’ve brought my larger handheld instead of my baby one.  **Edit** apparently other people received an email, but I didn’t, not sure what happened.  Also, if you picked up at the package pick-up, you received a water bottle, a store coupon, and sample of kicking horse coffee.  The other issue was the date change, which happened after registration opened, but thankfully didn’t get in the way of us running it.  I would have preferred the original race date, just given that this overlapped with the James Cunningham Seawall race, whereas last year we were able to run both.  Otherwise, everything run smoothly in my opinion, the flagging was excellent, the 2 aid stations were fully stocked and had very friendly awesome volunteers, and there was also a ton of awesome random draw prizes, including a tent!!  No one we knew won anything.  I think it’s important to mention that it felt the exact same as last year’s race, which is what I was told 5Peaks was working towards – keeping the RTNS events with the same vibe.

All things considered, whether Hallow’s Eve is run by the original RTNS, or the new 5 Peaks owned RTNS, it’s a great event!  It’s a challenging course, with 2 distance options, and it’s guaranteed to be a fun morning on the trails!  So, come run it with me next October, eh??  And you better believe I’m going for a sub 2:20!



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15 Responses to Hallow’s Eve Trail Half Marathon – Race Recap

  1. Cathy says:

    This post makes me wish I ran the half as the course was very fun…but I know the 10km was the smart choice…there’s always next year! Well done us! Now to taper for Bellingham!

    • Solana says:

      You made the smart choice, which is usually harder to make then the “quick, not so smart, makes you sicker choice” that seems more fun! I’m proud of you for rocking out an awesome time, sick or not!

  2. nikki says:

    Each report makes me want to try trails even more! A race with Coke? Count me in!

  3. Barb says:

    If you picked up your package Saturday at North Shore Athletics, there was a coupon for the store, a water bottle and a pack of Kicking Horse coffee with your bib and safety pins!

  4. Barb says:

    And there was a pre-race email two days before re: package pickup and normal race day stuff :) But yeah…the lack of the first aid station sure confused me. When I finally got to the first aid station, I thought, ‘I CAN’T only be at 6km!!!’

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  6. Pingback: Hallows Eve Trail half marathon race report | Trainharder.com

  7. Karl says:

    Great race report Solana, and congrats!

    Thought I’d chime in and say I didn’t receive a pre-race email either (I just checked my spam folder – nothing) and barely remembered to grab my package on Saturday.

    Anyways, good luck in Bellingham and thanks for sending over those mario pics!

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