Last year I ran the Bay of Fundy 1/2 marathon and got the win in record time. The BOF race director contacted me back in December offering me a free entry in any of the races this year. They added a new 52km (32.5 mile) race to the schedule and I decided to give it a shot. My training has been pretty good although I've only run about a dozen times over 8 miles. For the most part the key is to get to the line able to run. I had a little back trouble early in the week, probably a product of back-to-back racing last weekend.
Having an 80 mile per week cap meant I needed to be very cautious with my mileage, it was "nice" to have a couple of easy days leading up to the race. The logistics of the race meant crossing the border before the race to check in, thus allowing us to cross the border during the race using our race bibs as passports. The ultra course would be interesting, I'd broken it down into 5 parts. The course was "rolling" very rarely would you be running any flat. It was always up or down but no huge hills.
Part one was a 6 mile trek from Lubec to the West Quoddy light.
Next would be the Canadian section, 10 miles to the end of the Island and East Quoddy light (I'd broken it into a sub-part as we'd meet up the 1/2 marathon runners at Wilson Beach)
It was 60 degrees and sunny at 6am as the 20+ ultra runners lined up. It was going to be warm, but not hot (it'd get to 75 degrees during the race). Off we went heading for the first lighthouse. I was alone right from the start except for a nice woman on a bike who would lead the way for the next 4 hours. My goal was to hit 7:30's or so to break 4 hours. I wasn't sure if I could run that fast for that long but I'd give it a go. I was surprised to hit the mile in 7:10. It felt comfortable. The terrain would dictate splits as my watch would beep every half mile. I checked at the miles just to ensure I wasn't going too fast but mostly just depended on feeling okay. As I got a little further along I saw the early start marathon runners which broke things up a bit (saying "hi" to everyone). There was also plenty of time to take in the views, the course may have been challenging but it was also quite scenic. Part 1 ended as I reached the lighthouse and got a boost from the 150+ marathoners gathered there, they'd be starting about 30 minutes after I passed by. I rounded the light and headed back toward Lubec. I made a slight error trying to round the lighthouse but apparently only needed to go around a marker.
I got my first chance to scout the competition at this point and 3 minutes after I took the turn I passed Nathaniel Graber and Feng Qiu running together. Quick calculation put them a minute a mile behind me, but there was a long long long way to go.
My next marker was the 10 mile point which I wanted to reach in under 75 minutes. I hit that point in 1:12:15 feeling quite good. At 7:30am I rolled into Lubec and crossed the border into Canada, it was getting warm.
The next part from 12 miles to 20 miles was probably the toughest of the race. The hills were tough and I made sure to not push on the ups (or the downs!) and just kept moving along. I was getting water and Gatorade at every aid station which were about every 2 miles. I was really looking forward to reaching 20 which would be when I'd get onto the same course as the 1/2 marathon racers. Although the 2nd 10 was tougher my tempo had increased and I hit 20 miles in 2:23:57 (1:11:42 for my 2nd 10 miles). It was a lot of fun to meet up with the back of the half marathon, although they didn't stay to the left and sometimes it was a bit tough weaving around them especially at water-stops. I saw my brother-in-law soon after as he was heading south, we had a friendly battle going to see who would cross the finish line first. He was hoping for sub-2 hours and I was hoping for sub-4 and there was exactly 2 hours between our starts. It would be interesting at the end! Soon after I saw my sisters (Denise & Rose) and then finally took the turn a the second lighthouse. 10 miles to go!
There were no mile markers for the Ultra, we were told to just add 6 to the marathon numbers. I'm glad I had a Garmin! It could get a bit confusing with half-marathon markers, marathon markers, and my watch beeping every 1/2 mile. I saw the 2nd place Ultra runner 2 miles after the turn, he was now about 30 minutes behind. I did some quick math and was pretty sure unless I started walking I'd get the win. I hit the marathon mark in 3:07 and now had a 10km to go. The miles seemed to go by a lot slower now although my watch said differently. I was counting every beep and figuring out how far to go. I knew the course from running the half and from heading out over this part so I also knew about the remaining hills. I was getting tired but still holding it together and catching half-marathoners. I hit 30 miles in 3:34:52, so my third 10 miles was 1:10:55...my fastest 10 of the day. There were a couple of tough hills left.
As I climbed the last hill I saw John (my brother-in-law) up ahead. I was running faster than hoped for and so was he. I thought I had a shot at him but he had a solid kick and ended up running 1:53. He was the last 1/2 marathoner to finish in front of me (30th place, so I passed 217). I got a high-five from a border guard on the Canadian side then went up and over the Roosevelt bridge (tough) and turned for home taking the win in 3:53:31.
In all they had:
247 1/2 marathoners
21 ultra runners
131 10k racers