I picked Dario up at the Main Street SkyTrain station at 7:30 this morning for the drive out to Pacific Spirit Park for the Foolish Gerbil 50k. The Foolish Gerbil is technically only a ‘Flash Event’, meaning that it isn’t quite recognized as a race, even by loose Club Fat Ass standards. Whatever the run was, it was another opportunity to bang out 50k with friends on some familiar, runnable trails and we really couldn’t have asked for a better day on which to do it.
After a couple of the veteran Fools finished entertaining us with their impromptu game of slip-and-slide on the short, icy driveway from the park office parking lot to 16th Avenue, we were off as a herd into the woods which buffer the University of British Columbia from the rest of Vancouver.
The full 50k event consists of five loops — yes, round and round like a gerbil on a wheel; hence the name — of a 10k course through Pacific Spirit Park which I just noticed, on paper, actually resembles a foolish-looking gerbil. Once we were onto Salish — one of the main north-south arteries of the park’s trail system — we coalesced into a group of five: Dario; James Wanless, who would be tricked by his Garmin into running just shy of 25k; Alan Yu who would stick around for just over three laps to get in 20 miles prior to tomorrow’s demanding 13k run with the marathon clinic; and Fat Dog 100+ Miler survivor, Pat Malaviarachchi, who joined us for a little longer before downshifting on his way to a six-hour day in preparation for the Rocky Raccoon 100-miler next month.
To aid with our lap counting later on, we alternated directions each lap, starting with a counter-clockwise gerbil after race host Karl Jensen scolded us (not really, but he was far enough behind us at that point that he did have to yell) for going the ‘wrong’ way (although Pat and I were pretty darned sure the course description called for the clockwise gerbil to start. It should be noted that Karl had just smacked his head on frozen asphalt.). Over the course of the event, we had to contend with plenty of smiling walkers, cute toddlers, a huge mob of dog enthusiasts, a slightly smaller mob of friendly old people carrying pointy sticks, and the odd dick bombing around corners on a $5,000 mountain bike who was too lame to drive over to the North Shore to ride the mountain bike trails designed for grown-ups. We also saw coaches Chris Johnson and Graeme Fell putting the talented kids of the Vancouver Thunderbirds Track Club through their paces on the Imperial trail hill. Crack the whip, CJ!
I didn’t plan to run each lap a little quicker than the one before it, but I was pretty happy to see that I did, especially a week after my last 50k. Maybe it was the progressively longer pit-stops! I finished in 4:17:58… and now see I accumulated over 17:58 worth of food and potty breaks at the end of each lap. Here are the lap times with breaks in parentheses:
Lap 1 — 50:52 (3:14)
Lap 2 — 48:59 (4:41)
Lap 3 — 47:46 (5:43)
Lap 4 — 46:46 (6:27)
Lap 5 — 43:26
Total time: 4:17:58
Dario finished smiling in 4:27:32.
There was nothing foolish about this event… okay, with the exception of the slip-and-slide demonstration at the start. The weather was ideal, the company was enjoyable and the pace had just the right build up before guys peeled off to do their own distances and before Dario ultimately let me run off on my own for the last lap. Yeah, maybe we got carried away toward the end, but we were having a blast out there.
I don’t usually like running laps, but the nice thing about starting and finishing at the park office parking lot was the tailgate party at the end of each lap which gave me plenty of opportunity to test potential menu items to add to the list for Western States. I had a few gels, dates, cookies, Honey Stinger chews, and anti-freeze-coloured Gatorade, but the highlight was easily the Honey Stinger Waffle. I’m not sure how Lance Armstrong gets that wrapper open while riding a bike, but it sure was tasty!
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