Monday, October 3, 2016

Trail Run Manitoba, Lemming Loop, Race Report

See Mike Run
Beaudry Park, Lemming Loop Ultra-marathon
photo credit Maria Purificacion
All days are good for running, some are just better than others. Such was the October 1st Lemming Loop ultra-marathon hosted by the good folks of Trail Run Manitoba.  Runners race against the clock on a looped trail in their choice of a 3, 6, 12, or 24 hour event.  Each loop measures precisely 5.7 km with a single aid station at the start/finish line. As runners reach the end of their their time they are directed on to a 1 km short course so they're not stuck in the middle of the forest when the bear banger signals 'time's up'. Simple math determines your distance: i.e. (number of laps) x 5.7 km + (number of short laps) = total distance.  Life is complicated, running is simple.

After a two year hiatus due to flooding of the Assiniboine River, the 6th annual Lemming Loop returned home to the gorgeous Beaudry Park, 35 minutes from Portage and Main. The land is low and thick with mature oak trees.  Beaudry, a jewel in its own right, is comfortably nestled within a large u-shaped bend in the meandering Assiniboine River. The trails are mostly dual track with the occasional dip and rise just enough to make it interesting. Street runners quickly learn the meaning of 'be nimble' and watch for roots, rocks and other tripping hazards.  I took a nasty tumble at mile 18 and had several stumbles especially in the latter stages as my body fatigued and I lost concentration.

It is always an honour to share the trail with the humble Bert Blackbird, the joyful Sue Lucas, the infectiously positive Junal Malapad, and the other trail legends whose presence grace this magical forest. It's equally gratifying to run alongside Leaslie McPhail, Mandi Jacobson, Brenda, and Eddie Marion-Gerula.  This latter group may not have the stamina and speed of the former, yet they are tough as nails and do our community proud. Our community, whether trail or street, 10 km or ultra-marathon, is inclusive and kind and we care deeply about one another.

I thank Dwayne Sandall for his dedication to this community and for making our lives just a little better, one step at a time.  The volunteers, far too numerous to mention, are simply priceless.  The likes of Carrie Howell and her twin sister ;) Jo Holmes epitomize the volunteer spirit, cheerful, helpful, knowledgable, a little crazy (okay, a lot crazy) and all around beautiful characters.

It wouldn't be a race report without one tiny suggestion so here goes.  I didn't carry water preferring to rely on the aid station. In reflection, this was probably an error on my part and I paid for it near the end. It would have been helpful for me, and I expect others, to have an unattended water drop at the skier's hut.  My first several laps timed in at about 25 minutes while the last one was a whopping 48 minutes, a long time between water.

As winter approaches.  As days grow shorter. As I grow older. As life moves relentlessly forward, I have memories.

Memory of trails. 
Memory of tall oaks. 
Memory of blue skies. 
Memory of musty leaves. 
Memory of twisting rivers. 
Memory of running. 
Memory of smiles. 
Memory of kindness.

Thank you all for these sweet memories.

Remember also, it's a good day to be alive.