We are so fortunate to have such incredible race directors at 5 Peaks. Each of them with incredibly unique personalities and strengths.
Our Ontario race director, Erin, is known across the land for her witty and hilarious pre race emails. If you have a moment, take a read.
Hello Terra Cotta Warriors!
It has been a long winter without any 5 Peaks races to brag about at the office water cooler, but the season is heating up (figuratively, but unfortunately not literally – just that one half week we all got wildly optimistic that summer was arriving early this year and then we plummeted back into parka temperatures) and the wait is over! Monday you can proudly show your boss your physical and emotional trail running scars.
If you get 5 Peaks withdrawal in the off-season or between races, don’t forget we are always active on Facebook (5 Peaks Trail Running), Instagram (@5Peaksrun) and twitter (@5Peaksrun), and we have a pretty hoppin’ 5 Peaks Ontario Facebook group (5 Peaks Trail racing – Southern Ontario). Our Ontario group is a great way to stay current on all the exciting stuff happening at our races and in between events. #getofftheroad #5peaks
Now that the Barkely Marathon secret is out and everyone has watched the documentary I feel that some of you are expecting this bulletin be one of condolence over the unspeakable suffering in store for you. No condolences here, just awe that you are ready to show the humbling Terra Cotta course who’s the boss. 5 Peaks Ontario kicks off on Saturday and we couldn’t be more stoked.
The 5.4K loop (Sport runners run the loop once for 5.4K, Enduro runners run two loops for 10.8K) doesn’t look intimidating on the map. With a nice squarishly-round-hexagonal shape you might be fooled into thinking this is one of our easier courses. Easier to navigate maybe, easier to run, well I wouldn’t take that bet. If you are worried about getting lost, always follow the yellow and orange flags and 5 Peaks course signs. Do not mindlessly follow the runner in front of you because those runners can’t be trusted to know where they are going. Do not follow your heart. Your ticker might want to go left when the sign says right. Do not follow cute wildlife – it’s a trap. Do not be fooled by any signs claiming to be a “shortcut” – also a trap. Follow the flags. Locals may tell you the conservation area is named after the red tinged clay soil in the region, but Race Directors will tell you the red tinge is the blood-soaked footprints of runners past. When you conquer this course you should be proud. Tired and scarred, but also proud.
You may have noticed it rained this week. And tornadoed. Rained again. Hailed. Rained some more. Then there was the wind. Followed by more rain. Thunder and lightning. Oh, and rain. On the trail, with rain comes mud. Glorious, sticky, mucky mud. You will get dirty tomorrow. Really dirty. Splendidly dirty. Think of the dirtiest you've ever been, including childhood days making mudpies with your BFFs, and know that you will be muddier than that. So do not wear your new white tennis shoes. Do not wear your sleek racing flats. Do not wear your 17 year old sneakers with no tread left. Wear shoes with grip and expect that they will need a bath after you cross the finish line.
When you see mud on the trail you must delicately run straight through the mud. You must NOT go off trail to avoid the mud. You must NOT push alongside the very edges of the trail to avoid the mud. You must NOT intentionally displace the mud by creating artistic formations. You must NOT create an entirely new trail to avoid the mud. We are running through sensitive terrain and we absolutely cannot damage or widen the trail by running on the sides or trample endangered ecosystems just to avoid some dirt. Earth Day is every day. You are trail runners – getting dirty is one of the best parts of the sport, second only to getting bloody. If you do any of any of the things you are not to do you will be disqualified. STAY ON THE TRAIL AT ALL TIMES. Plus, and this is completely true, you are likely to stay cleaner by running straight through the mud than by trying to traipse off course. Almost all attempts at avoiding mud end with the same thought, as you find yourself trapped in an even deeper sinkhole or fallen on your butt, “I’ve made a huge mistake”. You read this and think, no problem, I get it, stay on the trail, not a problem, enough already… but when you are racing you will be overwhelmingly tempted to avoid the mud at all costs. You’ll think, I’ll just run off to the side, I’m just one person, it won’t matter and no one will ever know. Someone else did it, I’ll just follow their footprints. You must fight this compulsion. The impact of one person matters. And we will know. We have eyes in the trees. We see everything.
This course likes to lull you into a false sense of security before: BOOM! a giant hill; or BOOM! technical single track; or BOOM! a bear. That last one may be a hallucination. It’s hard to tell sometimes. For the first timers you get a sample of everything trail running has to offer and for the veterans this is a great route to test out your winter weary legs. Terra Cotta offers you broad double track straightaways, twisty single track, gut-busting uphills we call “mounds of opportunity” and speedy downhills we call “quad busters.” When you feel like you can’t possibly run another step, you’ve hit the 1/4 mark. When you start to ask people for forgiveness of all the wrongs in your life you’ve hit the ½ way point. When you start to hate the mud, the race director, the person in front of you who makes it look so easy, and yourself for signing up for this race you are 3/4 done. And when you are too delirious from fatigue to do math and you’ve forgotten how long this darn race is anyway, the end is near. When the going gets really tough remind yourself, at least they aren’t electrocuting me or forcing me to swim through manure or throwing paint in my face. If you don’t have the answers to your life problems after this inspiring run, you probably aren’t getting any answers.
And we don’t go any easier on the kids. The 3km route is an “out and back” along the last 1.5km of the Sport/Enduro route. So they run the course in reverse out 1.5km to just before the 4km mark and they turn around and run back in 1.5km. Yup, that means they are running the same challenging terrain, the same hills, and the same rad double track as you. Impressed? You are allowed to run with your kids – it’s a great warmup and nice way to preview the end of the Sport/Enduro course. The childrens’ free 1km is a nice flat romp around the marshes and the grassy plains. Parents, please feel welcome and encouraged to run the 1km with your little ones. Registration for the 1km fun run takes place race morning.
It is hard to appreciate as you gasp for breath and try not to fall on your own face, but do take a moment to enjoy your surroundings as you pass old conifer plantations, valley edges, mature forest and human-restored eco-systems. This is classic Ontario flora and fauna, so break out the maple syrup and enjoy. Just don’t get too wrapped up in the majesty of nature that you daydream yourself into a swamp. Constant vigilance is the trail mantra. The winter was hard on the trails and fallen leaves and branches cover much of the terrain, so be careful with your footing. Bridges and other wooden features can be especially tricky in wet conditions, so proceed with caution unless you want to work on your gymnastics moves. There is no shame in walking.
After much hard running and panting you will need some water and electrolytes. We have one Aid Station at about 2.5k into the loop and a second Aid Station at the start loop 2 for the Enduro runners. Xact Nutrition will be supplying fuel at Aid Station 1 and both stations will have water and Nuun. This year we are continuing to GREEN our events to celebrate and protect the beautiful natural spaces in which we run. Although we will provide small footprint cups at the aid stations, we will NOT be providing cups in the start/finish area. In the spirit of greening we also recommend you bring your own reusable bottles for use on course, especially if a quick sip isn’t enough to satiate your thirst. There is a water bottle table in the start/finish area, with a helpful sign saying “water”, so you race like an elite athlete and leave your bottle on the table, with easy access to your personal blend after you cross the finish line. There is no tap on site, so PRE-FILL all your water bottles at home. Cups are a huge source of waste at running events and eventually we will phase out aid station cups entirely – which would be a huge achievement!
Check out the start times so we can, well, start on time. I know you are sleepy and confused on race morning, especially when it is still dark as your alarm annoyingly goes beep-beep-beep, but starting in the right race will ensure you don’t suffer a humiliating defeat in the 1K at the hands of a 6 year old. This and other logistical details are on-line at www.5peaks.com, so when it doubt that’s a great resource. As this is early in the season and the mornings are still dark and cold, start times are 30 MINUTES LATER than usual. That gives you some extra time to stop for a warm beverage on your way in. In a reusable mug, of course.
– 8:30 AM: Registration / Packet Pickup opens for all events at the covered pavilion
– 9:30 AM: Kids’ 3K Timed Race
– 10:00 AM: Children's 1K Challenge
– 10:30 AM: Sport and Enduro Races, Wave 1 (each wave follows in 2 min intervals)*
– 12:45 PM: Awards Ceremony for ALL races
Note: Registration for each event closes 30 minutes before the start time!
This race is sold out and we will need every single parking space - so please carpool and park like a good running citizen, i.e. don't waste parking space, listen to the attendants and tuck in close to your neighbour so we can maximize the number of cars in the lot. Travelling in groups will also speed up arrival and departure, so get together with friends and make a road trip out of it.
*There will be 5 waves of runners. Overall winners are determined by *gun* time, so if you have a shot at TOP THREE OVERLL start in wave one. All Age Group awards are determined by *chip* time, so you can start in any wave and still kick ass. The wave you pick is based on the 5K time you could run up a muddy hill, into a strong wind, carrying a wiggly puppy.
– Wave 1: sub 20 min 5K and top three *overall* contenders
– Wave 2: 20 to 24 min 5K
– Wave 3: 24 to 30 min 5K
– Wave 4: 30 to 35 min 5k
– Wave 5: >35 min 5K
The awards ceremony for all races (including the Kid’s 3k) and door prize competitions begin once all the podium finishes are confirmed, around 12:45 pm. Bring warm clothes, non-muddy shoes and a blanket to sit on and stick around for some pretty wicked giveaways from our sponsors – some are given away by luck of the draw and others capitalize on your many talents in the field of shoe throwing, hat tossing, planking, question answering and more.
RACE DAY CHANGES like race distance or the name on the bib are permitted and can be done up to 60 minutes before the race, for a small third-party fee of $5 (cold-hard-cash, exact change only). DO NOT run under someone else’s name – it messes up results, slows down the awards ceremony, gives me grey hairs and worry wrinkles and heart palpitations, and is a big-time safety concern.
TRAIL RUNNERS LIKE IT DIRTY, BUT KEEP IT CLEAN. Carry in, carry out. The range for aid station cups is 10m, otherwise you are carrying it to the finish line. If you don’t know how far 10m is, don’t drop your garbage. Litterbugs stink. Don’t be stinky.
SAFETY BEFORE SPEED. When it comes to trail running there are three rules: lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way. Pass only when it is safe to do so, give way to faster runners, and don’t follow too closely. If you want to pass, alert the person in front with an “on your left” and wait for them to find a safe spot to ease over. If someone wants to pass, let them – no blocking. The distance between you and the runner ahead of you is your body length; that way if you go down you don’t take them down with you. If you can feel someone’s breath on your neck they are too close. Importantly, if you need to walk, walk – just don’t stop abruptly causing a 12 person pile-up. Look back, slow down and ease to the right. Keep your kids safe and under adult supervision, because unattended children will be recruited to Buffy the Trail Slayer’s dance troupe where they will spend the season performing at races and expos. Hint: Leaving them in the pavilion to eat all the cookies at the food table while you go run does NOT count as leaving them attended. There will find medics at the aid stations, the finish line, and on the course. If you need help on the course, ask a passing runner to inform the next aid station/marshal.
Finally, don’t be caught on course with something on the BANNED list, like wheelie shoes, dogs, light sabers, or headphones. Seriously, no headphones! Let the sounds of your heavy breathing and the footsteps from behind push you along. Our hidden trail police will happily issue demerit points to violators. 5 minutes to your finish time per infraction and a lifetime ban from the prize table.
The 5 Peaks team