Whistler 50 Race Report
The Whistler 50 race was on my radar for some time now.
The first 7 months of the year due to a persistent knee injury which prevented me from consistent training.
In mid-August, I raced Fat Dog 70 miler in with no major crazy flare ups.
So I decided to race Whistler 50.A couple more months went by and there I was, standing on the start line at 5:55 am that Saturday morning in the dark awaiting the race start.
I may not have gotten that much specific training in but my buddy told me it’s better to be under trained than over trained, so that was my new motto for this race.
The gun went off and about 6-8 guys just bolted from the line into the darkness. Someone in the back of the pack yelled something to the effect of “IT’S A 50 MILER GUYS!!”
I just sort of chuckled to myself as I ran thru an empty Whistler Village in the darkness. If you are not familiar with this race it consists of four 20km loops for a total distance of 80km or 50 miles.
Each loop is a partial paved urban trail system and dirt roads all of it is very close to the Whistler Village. Each 20km loop is also broken down with a 7km paved section and a 13k trail section. I found both them to be rather enjoyable for the majority of the time. After about 4-5 km into the race, I managed to slowly creep by the guys who went out hard in front of me and caught up with last year’s winner and good buddy Roy Kok.
He was looking very strong in the first position. I knew he would do well again, it is very much his style of race. We chatted for a bit but it was early and dark so I fell a bit back and he kept pushing on. Plus he was moving at a great pace and I felt my legs were just not that awake yet.
I finished the first 20km lap fine and as the head runners where completing it the sun started to came out and our headlamps were no longer needed. There were a couple times at the aid stations during the second lap that I would roll in and Roy would be there just ready to leave. We would exchange a couple quick words and he would head out before me looking very strong.
At the major aid station, you go by it 2 times in the 20 km loops so it’s great for just having all your supplies in a drop bag and just taking what you need. I was warned by my buddy Adam Way before the race that you can lose a lot of time just hanging out at this area so that was one of my main missions in this race to get in and out of aid stations quickly. I completed the second lap without any problems and I knew I wasn’t that far behind first place leader Roy- maybe a minute or two behind him the aid station volunteers told me.
At lap number 3 things started to get a little dark for a bit, don’t know why maybe I wasn’t drinking enough or eating enough but there was a patch there around the 45km mark where I was just thinking “Damn, I have to run almost another marathon still!” I laugh about it now but that thought continued on with me to the next aid station.
I had some coke and bananas and the somewhat bad thoughts just managed to dissipate from my mind. I should also mention that during this race from about 8 am onwards, the Whistler 50 relay race had started and used the same trail course. Our Vancouver run club, Fraser Street Run Club, had its own team running the relay as well, so I was great to see so many familiar faces out on the course. This was great, having so many people around and cheering, it really helps with motivation.
At Lap 4, it was probably around 10:45 am and there were more people out and about. I was so excited that this was my final lap and I was feeling good. I hadn’t seen Roy in a little while but the last major aid station told me he was still only about a minute in front of me. I headed out of the village starting the last loop of the course. I am feeling pretty good and moving at a pretty good pace. A little way ahead of me, I noticed Roy through the trees. I couldn’t tell if my eyes were playing tricks on me or not, but it looked like he was slowing down. I kept running. Within a minute I reached him.
Roy was standing in the middle of the trail looking bummed out. He told me that he was cramping in his hamstrings. I asked him what I could do to help but he told me there was nothing I could do and to just keep going. So I continued on my fourth and final 20km lap. After less than a minute of running, I hear some yelling coming from behind me and I figured Roy was cramping up really badly. I know that feeling and it sucks.
I continue running the loops, through the golf course and then through the dirt trail section around the picturesque Lost Lake and on to the last aid station about 3 km from the finish line. The aid station guy yells ‘Good Job!’ as I ran by. I was not going to stop with only 3 km left. I was conscious that maybe Roy healed up from his leg cramp and was right behind me or anyone for that matter- your mind plays crazy games with you at this stage of an ultra. That must be the worst fear that someone is going to pass you within the last kilometre of an 80 km race. Luckily, no one passed me in the last few kilometres.
I rolled into the village finish line at a time of 6 hours and 18 minutes for the win! All of my Fraser Street Run Club buds and my wife Michelle were cheering for me! Michelle started the race that morning as well but had just dropped before her 4th loop after 60 km of running- she said she just wasn’t having fun that day. First woman Catrin Jones came in about 6 or 7 mins behind me at 6:24 and looking totally fine. She even broke the woman’s course record, which was awesome! My buddy and Fraser Street Run Club member Roy ended up in 3rd with a great time of 6:40 and looked good rolling through the line as well. I was informed that our Fraser Street Run Club mixed gender relay team won the mixed division and also got 3rd place. All in all, it was a great day of running and the rain did not pour down on us like it was forecasted to.
A really big thanks to everyone at the Whistler 50 race for a great job in every aspect of putting this one together and running it smoothly. Also big shout out to Kintec / North Shore Athletics for the entry and support. And of course, a huge thank you to the good people from Fraser Street Run Club.
Jesse Booi, Kintec Race Team