Iron Legs: Determined to finish for a teammate

I am running my second race of the season tomorrow. It happens to be one of the toughest grinds on the Alberta trail racing scene – the Iron Legs 50-miler.

I am running my second race of the season tomorrow. It happens to be one of the toughest grinds on the Alberta trail racing scene – the Iron Legs 50-miler.

Picture single track trails and fire roads with tons of elevation change.

I’m on a two-person relay team – Bluenose Bad Asses – with Red Deer’s Amanda Skinner. Amanda is originally from New Glasglow, N.S., a northern town in Pictou County. And I was born (but never lived) in the southwestern part of the province in Yarmouth, N.S.

Months ago I begged my fellow lapsed Maritimer to be my partner for this gruelling race. The race would fit perfectly in my grand training scheme for the Lost Soul 50K in early September.

It didn’t take too much arm-twisting to get my new best running pal on board.

I don’t know Amanda too well but this I know is true – she is one helluva runner. She is the type of runner who has done so many races that she has lost count. Most recently she has run the Powderface 42 and the Moose Mountain Marathon. Think climbing and more climbing.

I know how to pick a teammate.

Because I am on a two-person relay, we have split the distance. Starting at 6 a.m., I volunteered to run the first half (about 40K) of the race. There are six aid stations along the course at 11K, 24K, 39K, 48K, 62K and 73K.

The distance does not worry me but I’m slightly nervous about making the cut off times. In most running races, especially ultras, there is a time limit for runners to reach a certain aid station and to finish the race. Mostly the cut offs are designed to ensure everyone is safe and in some cases, due to road closure restricts.

There are two cut off times. The first is at the fourth aid-station at 48K. Runners have to be in this aid-station before 4 p.m. at the 10-hour mark.

The second is at the next aid station where runners need to be here before 6:30 p.m. at the 12.5-hour mark.

If you do not make the cut off time, you are officially out of luck and the race.

Several years ago I was on a five-person relay team for the Canadian Death Race in Grande Cache. My teammates and I watched anxiously as our third runner just made the cut off within four or five minutes.

My biggest fear is letting my teammate down. I would feel horrible if I was the reason we were disqualified.

Nobody wants to be that runner.

In all we have 16-hours to complete the race (or eight hours each to finish our legs).

Confession time.

Amanda, if you are reading this, I am sorry but I scaled down my mileage over the last three weeks. I blame the holidays in Ottawa and rain storms in Red Deer.

But I assure you I am no quitter. I am determined to cross the finish line with my teammate.

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