The 2019 Salomon Summit 700 Trail Race


I have always been one to have that tendency to park at the back of a parking lot. There is less driving around trying to find that “perfect” parking spot. Parking closer to the exit, it is often quicker, less stressful and more convenient getting out.  And besides, a little extra walking does not hurt anyone.

I much prefer quiet parking lots! Image Source

So on the morning of July 13th, 2019 when I went to Blue Mountain Resort for my bib pickup before my Salomon Summit 700 race, I decided to park in the very first parking lot off the main drag. I parked there for my two previous Blue Mountain races that I ran in 2016 and 2017 with The North Face Endurance Challenge. The parking lot was very quiet, and it was a nice, easy, quiet, scenic half a kilometer stroll to the start line at The Village at Blue Mountain, where the races were held.

I was fully expecting a scene like this at The Village at Blue Mountain. But the Village was completely empty. Taken by my ultra running friend Kristi Raz, prior to the 5 AM start of my 50 mile The North Face Endurance Challenge this same weekend in 2017.

I parked my Prius and walked on over and arrived at the village square at 6:45 am, which is shortly after the 6:30 bib pickup. And the place was completely deserted. No tents set up. No start/finish line corrals. Nothing! Did I not have the right day? I don’t have media on my phone, so I have no way of checking. Just then I spot three athletic looking young adults who also appeared to be just as perplexed. We asked each other if “we were looking for the race”. When we all discovered we were, we all introduced ourselves. I was introduced to Brendan, Liz and Everhard. Brendan did a quick check on his phone and learned the bib pick up and race start was actually still over another kilometer away at Blue Mountain Inn. When Brendan learned where my car was, he generously offered me a ride in his truck. My Prius was parked in its’ own happy location, and I gladly accepted.

Logo for Salomon Summit 700. Image Source

I registered for the Salomon Summit 700 for its’ longest distance of 21k way back in early 2019. It has been a very interesting year. After my retirement from Busch Systems I was hoping to run at least a couple long distance ultras leading up to the Monarch Ultra run in September. But it has been the complete opposite.  In my six years running, this year is the least I have ever run. I am so fortunate with injuries, so I can’t complain. This year however I have been nursing some plantar fasciitis on the right foot. The 3rd time I have had it (though the 1st time while running), and each time on the same foot.

The feeling of Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot when I get out of bed first thing in the morning. Image Source

After my Barrie Half, I took off an entire month from running to let the foot heal. And these past 2 weeks I have done 4 slow paced runs, but only totalling 20k. Walking is okay (except when I get out of bed in the morning), and running still does aggravate my foot somewhat. So after my final run three days before the race I decided to transfer my registration to the 10 kilometer distance. For my blog posts here, I do spend a lot of time on the course taking photos, and was afraid of not making the two hard cut-offs on the 21k. With the 10k , if I needed to, I could just walk the 10k and have enough time to finish in the 3.5 hours allowed to finish. My ultimate goal is to get more healthy before my stage of 107 kilometers for the Monarch Ultra on September 22nd.

Having studied maps, elevations and hard cut off times, and after a lot of deliberation decided to transfer my registration entry to the 10k distance three days before the race. Image Source

Before my run I met up with a runner friend named Becky. It was such a pleasant surprise to see her there. I first met her earlier this year as she accompanied a friend at the OUTRace Spring Warmup and then as she volunteered at Pick Your Poison. Ever smiling, you would never know that behind that beaming, radiant smile there would be a lot of physical discomfort. To help address the chronic nerve pain she had been experiencing, last winter she had a discectomy performed on her to remove an L5 S1 massive extrusion on her back. To work hard through rehab, start all over in training, and make it to the start line of what could very well be one of the toughest 21k races (which sees well in excess of 3,000 feet of elevation gain, plus loss) in all of Central and Eastern Canada is nothing short of remarkable. She was such an inspiration to me to see her there.

So much in awe to see my runner friend Becky at the start line of the super challenging 21k. Her biggest challenge since major back surgery.

I cheered Becky and all the 21k runners as they started their race, and during my one hour wait before my 10k, I did a walk/light run back to my car to loosen me up (which ended up being a 3.6k round trip). At my car I put on some bug spray (particularly for ticks), some suntan lotion, and drank some coconut water for hydration. Then soon I was back at the start line for the countdown of my 10k. It was so good to be back on a trail race. My last trail race was way back in April at Pick Your Poison.

The 21k runners ready for their start.

Not knowing how my foot was going to behave, I positioned myself at the start near the very back of the pack. Thinking of my friend Becky who started at the back in the 21k, it got me thinking of the struggles, hurdles and battles for many runners just to make it to the start line. Every runner has their own story. During my 10k, much of the trails I recognised from running the 50k Endurance Challenge in 2016, and the 50 Mile Endurance Challenge in 2017. And there is that one hill that Summit 700 gets its’ name from. The iconic 700 foot single track, technical climb that is chip timed. And the runner who climbs it the fastest is awarded “Queen or King of the Mountain”.

Shortly after the start of the 21k. Image Source Summit 700 Facebook

 

It is such a different perspective being at the back of the pack. My photo from the back of the 10k. So many runners back there have amazing stories of inspiration for them just to make it to the start line.

There is very little of the course that is flat. There was one section at the top of Blue Mountain that was smooth, flat and very runnable. No rocks, no roots, and I picked up the pace. A few seconds later I felt myself becoming airborne and came down quite hard. My foot had caught on a section of wire fencing that was flat on the trail. Nearby runners checked to see if I was okay. At 61, falling makes me extremely nervous. Fortunately I landed on dirt, and not rocks and was able to get up, shake it off and keep going.

Part of the Summit Climb, it is a timed 700 feet up and up and up. The fastest female and male get crowned Queen and King of the Mountain

For one who is used to running much longer trail races, this 10k race went by incredibly fast. And the foot, though a little tender by the end of the race, held up amazing. Which made a world of difference for me. Before I knew it, I was running through the chute and across the finish line to the cheering of spectators and I was presented my finishers medal. My Suunto had tracked 480 metres (or 1574 feet) of elevation gain plus loss over the 10k. It was a tough course, and I felt very, very happy to finish.

Some really cool areas. Like grass that was as tall as I was.

Looking on the above map this photo location is near the words AID and 9k. In the direction I was going I had just over 3k to go. Coming down the hill (on the track on the right) runners would have just over a kilometer to go.

I then stretched and walked around, all the while congratulating many other finishers. While making my rounds I spotted my new friends Brendan and Liz (Liz was cheering Brendan on during his race). They were so excited to see I had come in, inquiring how I made out. After I mentioned my results, I asked Brendan about his race. He so modestly mentioned “that he finished 4th”. Looking up the results later at home, I learned that there were 215 runners in the 21k, and Brendan burned up those 21k of mostly technical single track, and with over 3,000 feet of elevation in 1:55:47. The 1st four finishers in the 21k were quite close together, and the next runner after Brendan came in nine minutes later. I so love the humbleness of the running community. Brendan came in an amazing 4th overall, but he was so much more interested in how my run went.

Celebrating with my medal. Even after the race I have no regrets for transferring to the 10k. No further damage to the foot. Which was a relief. Still lots of people around in background.

 

Celebrating with my new runner friend Brendan. He came in 4th overall in the 21k.

There were still a lot of runners from the 6k, 10k and 21k out on the course, so I decided to sit on the bank opposite the finishing corral and cheer the runners on as they finished. I cheered all the runners that stood on the podium during the award ceremony. After the award ceremony the spectators really thinned out. With no sign of my friend Becky, I decided to walk straight up the ski hill to where it interrupts the course, and cheer her and any other runners that came by.

Looking back as I started up the ski hill, crowds had thinned out considerably. Everyone was gone when I came back down to cheer for the final runner at the finish.

A quite a few runners went by on that section of trail. Twelve, fifteen or even more, I’m not entirely sure how many there was. But I could see the weariness, the exhaustion on each of their individual faces. And as I clapped and cheered saying “you are doing amazing”, smiles and words of “thank you” were spoken to me. I have been in the receiving end of this many, many times, and I know how big of a boost those simple words of encouragement can be.

The final runner with the two sweepers. Such fight and determination. And I have so much respect.

There were three more runners coming down, and as I was cheering, one of the ladies mentioned that “they were the last”. The two ladies were sweepers, and a gentleman named John was the final runner. John is 62 years old, and made it through those two hard cut-off times and was now fighting with every ounce of energy he could pull up from within himself to make it to the finish in his 21k. While the race course continued to wind its’ way around, I went straight back down the steep ski hill I came up to cheer John at the finish line. I ended up being the only spectator left right at the finish line. As I started cheering for John as he came in, the announcer, the two course sweepers, and photographer (in between photographs) all joined in. I had just ever so briefly met him, but it was very emotionally moving for me to witness John cross that finish line. For me, I never ended up running that 21k distance that I was hoping to. But at the finish line, through a runner around the same age as me, I felt the pain, the struggle and then the triumph of “Going the Full Distance”. It was an extremely beautiful ending to a very special day! And P.S.  My friend Becky did finish, back surgery and all. She must have snuck by as I was climbing the ski hill to cheer on all the remaining runners out on the course. And Becky went the full 21k distance and had an absolutely great day out there!  🙂

One last photo taken at the top. With a view like this, I just could not help but stop and take a photo! 🙂

 

 

Categories: RunningTags: , , , , , ,

17 comments

  1. awesome Carl can you also share in the group. legend

    On Wed, Jul 17, 2019 at 9:25 AM theoldfellowgoesrunning wrote:

    > Canuck Carl posted: “I have always been one to have that tendency to park > at the back of a parking lot. There is less driving around trying to find > that “perfect” parking spot. Parking closer to the exit, it is often > quicker, less stressful and more convenient getting out. A” >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is so awesome of you to stick around to cheer! As a slow runner, I always appreciate those who stay and have positive words

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh the dreaded plantar fasciitis 😆. Hoping you are healed for your September run with the Monarchs!

    Try some yoga downward dog stretches and calf and foot massage.

    Nice race report – Suz.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so inspirational that I actually went online and downloaded a couch to half marathon training plan. For serious. And then I hurt myself on the cross training day. Haaa! But this morning I feel better and I’m going to get my 30 minutes of pavement hitting done today. Thanks for the inspiration, Carl!

    Liked by 1 person

    • April this is so incredible. Thank you for sharing this. I am humbled. There are great resources such as the couch to half marathon, and you are going to be so amazing. You are going to love it! 🙂

      Like

  5. Carl it sounds like you made a very wise decision to go with the 10k. Even though it flew by it’s hard to know how your foot would have felt at twice the distance. Thankfully you didn’t get hurt with your fall! I have no doubt all the runners you cheered on so appreciated the support. Sending best wishes for a continued and full recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading and sharing Sue. I am sure as a nurse you have I’m sure seen people who did not allow enough time for healing and recovery and paid the price. I really am glad I dropped back to the 10k. And it was so much fun connecting with the other runners. Thank you again, and trust you have an amazing week! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That last picture, I love it! That is one of my most cherished views. Congratulations, Carl! I hope to try this one next year. Though, after the races we’ve done up there, 10k or 21k must be a breeze, right? 😉 (kidding, of course). Stay healthy!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww thank you for stopping by Crystal. The course did bring back a lot of memories. I certainly did not miss the mud from 2 years ago. Conditions were pretty close to perfect. It was just before all that humidity hit for those few days. And yeah, that 10k went by so unbelievably quick. Salomon did a nice job with the race. If the date is open next year, I’ll likely be back! Thank you for taking the time to read and share! 🙂

      Like

  7. Looks awesome, there seems to be such a great camaraderie amongst long distance runners! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! I really do love the camaraderie. I am one of the older runners always out there, but I never ever feel any age differences. One big happy family. Thank you for taking the time to read and share! 🙂

      Like

  8. O my word! What an experienece. That transfer to 10k was absolutely necessary. Yikes~~ well done for finishing 👍👍👍

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am literally wincing at the thought of the pain you must have gone through. Hope you are well on the road to recovery for September 🙂

    Also, I am recognizing some of the places that are referred. Feels so good!

    Like

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