Dropping the Hammer at the Anvil

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Hello race fans! Long time no speak. My last big race was in September when I did the 65km UTHC race in Charlevoix. After that, it was full swing into final wedding preparations, honeymoon planning, and various other things. I realized that it was high time I threw myself back into the mix, so on a whim, I decided two days before the race that I’d sign up for a local cross-country running race, known as “The Anvil on Foot“. The main event over the weekend is actually a series of cyclocross races, but on Sunday morning, before the bikes races, they also host a foot race, which I, along with several from my trail running group, decided to lace up for. It was relatively short and sweet, but very cold. Deanna was onsite snapping pictures during the day as well, and I had a great run. Check out her pictures on Flickr, then read the rest of my race story.

Pictures from the Event

October / November are traditionally my low months, where I try to squeeze in some prime vacation time, as well as just generally let my body recover from the racing I did in the summer, in order to prepare it for the winter onslaught of snowshoeing, skiing, spinning, and running. However, if I sit idle for too long, I go a bit stir-crazy. So, wishing to test myself against some of the best runners in the area, I plunked down the paltry sum of $15 to do two laps of the 3km course (for a total of 6km). If you know anything about cyclocross, you’ll know that the courses are very twisty and turny, with little hills and obstacles to hop over (when cycling). Never having done one of those races, I showed up a bit early on Sunday to check out the course.

Did I mention the temperatures plummeted AND we got snow the night before? Yup, the snow was just a dusting, but the temperatures were cold, and there was quite a little wind. Combine that with the open nature of the course, and you’ll see why it was in our best interests to run fast. The race took place at the Nepean Equestrian Park, so we actually started in one of the big barns out of the wind. Prior to the race, I did a full loop of the course to get a feel for it at slow speed, and nearly froze my fingers off! In spite of that, I took an extra layer off, knowing that we’d warm up fast.

The Racecourse and Results

Anvil on Foot Results

I lined up with about 39 other hearty souls and awaited the starting gun. The pace at the front was very fast. Turns out some of the top track / cross-country runners from Ottawa U had shown up and wanted to blow the field up, which they did. I was at a constant redline the whole way and watched as the front pack pulled every so slowly away from me. Despite that, I was actually having a fantastic race. I was well rested, and felt good enough to push hard. Completing the first lap, I was in the top 10, which doesn’t sound that amazing, but considering the company, was an accomplishment!

Footwear was another key factor in the race. I did what some would say was a foolish thing. I ran in brand new shoes! However, it was with good reason. I expected either thick mud from heavy rains, or snowy tracks needing grip. Instead we got hard, frozen ground, with icy patches and treacherous ruts. On Friday, I had made an impulse buy of a pair of Inov8 Mudclaw Shoes, with very aggressive treads, and they were ideal for these conditions. People in racing flats or regular runners definitely had a harder time than me.

While there was a little bit of jockeying for positions where I was during the first lap (i.e. a few of us played cat and mouse along the way), the second lap was pretty much settled at the outset. I glanced behind and saw a couple people not too far from me, and decided to push even harder on the second lap to grow my lead, and maybe catch up to the next person ahead of me. Why push harder? Well, for one, the next person behind me was none other than Rick Hellard, a very experience tri coach, and organizer of the Winterlude Tri. On any given day, he would demolish me in a foot race, but he was likely having an off day, and I was in top form. Regardless, I wanted to beat him. Another spot or two behind him was Ian Fraser, another guy I would say could beat me if he wanted to, but I think his footwear choice was hindering his ability this day.

On the second half of the 2nd lap, my lead was secured, and I was pretty sure I’d stay in my current spot, but didn’t let up one bit. Dave McMahon, and Alex Michel were up ahead, getting close to finishing by this time, and now I was interested in what time gap I’d have on them. Putting it all out there, I crossed the line at 24m32s, good enough for 9th place male, and 10th overall. I was very happy with that result given the course and the competition. In the end, the gap between Dave and I was just over 1m30s, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Afterward, being a no-frills grass-roots event (this is only the 3rd time it was put on), there wasn’t much to stick around for unless you wanted to watch the bike races. There was a little awards ceremony recognizing the top 3 males and females, as well as some draw prizes to give away. Having won none of those, Deanna and I decided that rather than hanging out in the cold all day, we’d head home.

All in all, given the price, this was an excellent event. Due to the cyclocross races, the course markings were suberb, and there was a fun atmosphere at the start / finish. Granted, I wish it had been a bit warmer, but such is life. I’ll definitely head back out next year, as this is a perfect short race to test out the legs before the snowshoe racing season starts. Speaking of which, stay tuned for the next blog post, as only 2 weeks after this race was the season opener Mad Trapper race. I’ll have something up for you all then. Till that post is written, stay warm, but get out there! Layering and movement are the key!

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