Woke to clear skies on Sunday morning, a glorious day for Year 12 of Mountain Highway Madness. Having participated in a few myself in recent years and having heard stories from old-timers, I knew that we lucked out, as past years have brought rain and snow and everything in between.
Scouting trail conditions the weekend prior, I knew that this would be one of those in-between years. It’s hard to predict what the path will be like for the spring editions, as some years it’s been clear sailing all the way to the top while other years you risked being swallowed up to your chest in snow as you approach the quarry. This year was likely to be bare halfway and then hard-packed snow the rest of the way.
Nostalgic for past snowdays though I arrived at the starting line with snowshoes in hand. As I was the only participant who brought them, I knew that I was either going to be the most prepared of the crew or that I’d end up pointlessly carrying two sticks for 15km of uphill and downhill – turned out to be the latter, although they did serve as a dry seat while I sat and took vids of rveryone else charging down the mountain around 1km from the top.
We had 16 starters Sunday and a good mix of regulars and newbies. Including Gail, who was running in not only her first CFA event as a change-of-pace in the midst of her Vancouver Marathon training but her first trail run ever. First but not her last, right Gail?
Pre-run talk turned for a moment to the results of Chuckanut 50k held the day before in Bellingham, as we had a few Chuckanut vets in attendance. While lacking the steepness and roots of Little Chinscraper, Old Mountain Highway as many of you know is a good weekend morning workout in its own right, a steady but runnable climb for 7.5km up to the quarry and then a nice downhill where you can air it out back to the cars.
CFA grand poobah and long-time MHM host Ean Jackson completed the ceremonial handoff to this year’s slightly younger but much less dashing event host and then we were off. Clearly some of the attendees had pent-up energy from the winter months to release, as they were off with a dash almost as if it was a road 10k.
Not so for Ean and me. A perk of having 100+ ultras under one’s belt including many 100 milers like Ean does is that you’re overdue for a day when you run 1/300th of that distance. You can count on Ean to always be a value-add however, as he made his down to Delaney’s to save seats for the post-event.
Perched at the 6km mark I was able to catch on tape just about everyone as they made they were down, including usual suspects like Dave Cressman leading the way, Chloe dressed in shorts as if it was summer MHM, bagger extraordinaire Bill Maurer, a bunch of people nimbly scooting across the crusty snow. One gent with a smile on his face had a photogenic lady at each arm – it may have been Ray, Lara and Gail but since my camera failed me then and my memory fails me now I’m not certain.
Lingering at the quarry for awhile in the sparkling snow, I chatted with Sibylle who was still in one piece at that point and with Sam who had arrived at the start a little while after we had left but whom we were glad to see.
Running down I encountered one man who was tearing it up midway up his 2nd loop, so speedy (and bearded) that I’m afraid I didn’t catch his identity. It was a day for the ladies too, as the longest runners turned out to be Chloe at a full 2 laps and Lara at a lap and a half. Most everyone else called it a day after one 15km lap. A bit of a switch from past years and maybe an indication that some of us are getting older or less ambitious – or more sane?!
Back at Delaney’s, we were somewhat surprised to learn that there had been a few spills and unwanted thrills on the day. Some scrapes here, a torn MCL there. No trail runner-mountain biker rivalry on this day, as a couple of bikers chivalrously lent onjured Sibylle a bike to help with her descent. We wish her a speedy and full recovery, as she has the Berlin Marathon to look forward to in just 6 months. On a brighter note, Andy and Sam were the recipients of free entries into Saturday’s inaugural Cap Crusher, part of the new Coast Mountain Trail Running Series launched by Gary Robbins and friends.
So another good edition of MHM in the books. Thanks to everyone for coming and see you in September for the Fall Mountain Highway Madness. I have posted 10 short video clips of many of you in action.
P.S. You can read about Sibylle's mishap here.