My 22nd race of the year, was the Mountain Madness Phantom Race, the 24K route.
The Phantom is a staple to the end of the trail running season in Vancouver, and in previous years I’ve run the 12K, and the 19K (a couple times), but I have yet to try the 24K. Considering I’m training for a 50Miler in just a few short weeks, I decided to man up to the longer distance. Not to mention Jeff, Dave, Shea, and Melissa were all doing the 24. Sigh, peer pressure always works on me.
I was a bit worried about racing on legs that had been running every day of November for the #beaststreak, but I decided to give it a whirl.
Turns out, I had the right idea being worried, my legs were NOT in the mood to race on Saturday, and it was not a terribly pleasant morning, running wise for me…
But, seeing so many of my wonderful friends always makes it bearable.
Phantom starts at the Learning Lodge in Lower Seymour (same venue as the Ugly Sweater Trail Run!!) and there is staggered starts for all 3 distances. We started first, since we had the farthest to run. Turns out I knew lots more people than I thought running the 24K, so it was fun to chat with lots of friends before starting.
And off we went!
There’s a short little loop along the one side of Rice Lake to start the race and spread runners out, and Melissa, Dave, Shea, and myself all started together. Coming out of the loop, Melissa and I dodged around a group of slower ladies and separated from the guys. We came back through the finish area and tried to do a fun photo for Jay…
The next section is the Baden Powell next to Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, and Melissa and I ran and chatted this part side by side. As we got into the more technical parts with tons of boardwalks, all of a sudden Jeff passed us! What?? Well, it turns out, a HUGE group of the lead runners had gone off course due to a turned arrow, and they were now passing us to get back to the front. It’s not bad starting behind the fasties, and not knowing how much ahead of you they are, but when they double back and fly past you, it’s pretty demoralizing.
As we climbed up the hill towards Lilloet Road, Melissa started to pull ahead of me, and at this point Alex, Tara, and Sarah all flew by us. Fast ladies I tell ya!
At the road, the marshal wasn’t stopping cars for us, but instead was stopping us for cars. I’ve never seen this in a trail race and actually got caught behind Melissa.
At this point Dave and Shea came out of the woods and caught up to us. The next downhill section is super fun and fast, but the legs weren’t fully turning over, and Melissa blew past all of us. Heading up the other side of the bridge, Melissa was fading off into the distance, and Dave and I opted to walk the hill while Shea decided to catch Melissa.
Kind of hard to watch your friends run off in the distance when you want to run with them. But, on the other hand, I would never want to hold them back when I’m not having a good day. I think I’m realizing that my speed for shorter races just isn’t there right now, but my speed for the longer runs and races really remains steady, and realistically that’s a lot more important for San Fran, so I have to stay positive that it will be the best for my goal race.
Dave and I stuck together, and for the most part we were alone, we passed a few people, and had a few people pass us, but mainly, it was just us out there. I was very thankful for Dave sticking with me, as I was really feeling poor, and even contemplated just quitting at the 12K mark when we go past the start/finish area.
Coming up Homestead I checked my watch, and the time was 4 mins slower than I had run the whole 12K last yr, when I had run just the short distance. That’s not terrible considering I wasn’t feeling great, and had another 12K to go…
As we passed by the halfway mark, Jen was standing there, and it was great to see a familiar face and get a high5!
Next portion was on Varley, and it’s always a favorite trail of mine, so I settled into a rhythm, and felt ok for a bit. Dave was keeping me entertained with stories, and reminding me to treat it as a training day for fun, rather than a race.
We ran across Lynn Headwaters, and up the road that seemed to never end. Emma had passed us when we stopped at the Headwaters aid station, so we chased her until the turnoff for the 19K where we hooked up and ran with her to the debris chute. Just before the chute, we hit snow! Not a lot of it, but it was the first snow we’ve seen this year!
Onto upper Lynn Loop, the trail is naturally pretty mucky, and with the rain from the few days before, it was pretty gnarly. We came across a girl who had fallen in the muck, made sure she was ok, before continuing on.
We had gotten into a little group at this point, and very comfortably ran along together. I love this technical running, even if it was super muddy and tons of puddles, and I finally began to feel my legs coming out to join me for the race. I finally felt like myself, at about the 20K mark.
You know you’re an ultra runner when….
This section is all single track, and Dave had tucked in behind me, and it was really wuite comforting to just know he was right there with me. I started to pick up speed as my legs finally woke up, and we started passing people.
They’ve somewhat recently changed the whole ending of the Lynn Loop trail to not be as technical, and I used to crush other people on that section, and now I don’t at all, because there’s no downhill technical runner advantage.
Dave took the lead down the gravel path of steep switchbacks, and we barreled down to the bottom where it spits us out on the connector.
As we hit the main trail, we fell back into step with each other, and figured we’d be justttt under what Dave had run Phantom in last year, so that was good enough for us.
We crossed the finish line at 2:44:48 together.
So many of our friends were at the finish line, so we chatted upcoming races, 2014 plans, and of course about the upcoming Ugly Sweater Run, all while sipping on delicious hot blueberry juice from Bremners! Mmmm! I do love some hot blueberry juice!
Speaking of Bremners, the crew was out in full force on Saturday!
Mark and Hikari both placed in the 19K so we stayed to see them collect thier prizes, and the prizing at Phantom is always good, and usually everyone receives a prize, so we stayed for that too. Both Jay and I waked away with new Drymax socks!! I saw them on the table, and was eyeing them like crazy, as I knew I needed another pair for San Fran!
My official stats :
2:44:48 – 19/46 overall females, 53rd overall out of 93 finishers.
Full results can be found here.
And now, for the nitty gritty race info/critique :
Overall, how would I rate this race?
Terrain/Course/Difficulty : B. Located at my favorite place on the North Shore for running, LSCR, the Phantom 24K uses some of my favorite trails, and some of my least favorite trails. It’s not a terribly difficult race, but it’s also got quite a bit of climbing, 700m’s over the 24K.
Affordability and Value : For me, since I had volunteered at a few other Mountain Madness races this year, my race entry was free, but I believe the race was $45 up til the week before, so that’s a very good value, especially considering there is coffee, hot soup, and treats at the finish line.
Organization : A. No complaints from me. Everything ran smoothly as far as I saw, the only 2 small things I noticed – I had brought canned goods for the food bank, but couldn’t easily find the box. And we stood around for a long time afterwards hanging out, and it seemed like the yummy treats disappeared pretty quickly, there probably could’ve been more cookies/treats.
Overall, I’m not reallllly glad I did the longer route on Saturday, and probably would’ve been smarter to do the shorter course with Jay, or maybe even the middle distance. But, then again, I am training for that damn 50Miler, so I guess the mileage wasn’t a bad idea.
Next up? Ya, that damn 50Miler. In exactly 2 weeks tomorrow. Can you say scared shitless??! I’m sure you’ll be hearing LOTS about my upcoming race in the next 2 weeks.