Described as epic, phenomenal, Whistler's best, the Comfortably Numb 25km trail runs from the Wedge Mountain parking lot, heading west toward Spruce Grove park on the outer fringe of Whistler village. Awesome. It has everything you would want from a technical single-track trail: gentle switch backs that take you up to just over 1000m elevation, beautiful open rock plateaus that mess with your mind as you run loops around, and around, and around...then you get dropped off rock faces, down technical chutes of trail, and finally through beautiful lush forest that always smells fresh.
Comfortably Numb is the trail race that has it all. So why not do it twice?
The idea started over a tasty seafood risotto cooked by Vancouver's Nicola Gildersleeve, aka "long-sleeves", an awesome lady that has pushed me on our weekly runs and adventures. We had been deciding how to fit in a long weekend run (in my lead up to the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc) and also race Comfortably Numb. "Why not just run from the finish to the start of the race and then do the race as well back to the finish?" Yes!
Race morning, 5.45am, crisp clear morning, Nicola and I start our run to the race start:
Nicola making a quick call to double check which way the trail goes: Left or Right?
At the start line with Cathy, a local Physiotherapist and legendary for her consumption of 8 gels and 15 salt tablets during this race to stop cramping (she smashed the race):
With Nicola, restocking water:
At the only aid station, having a wrap. Thanks to the North Shore Athletics race organizers who hiked in 12k to man this remote outpost of help and hydration:
Halfway for some, 3/4 of the way for others...
Nicola and I started in the morning together and ended up finishing together as well. She jarred her ankle badly 7km into the race and I found her at the only aid station munching on salty chips. We ended up running the rest of the way together. At one point she commented to me "geez I feel so held back by my ankle, I just want to go faster." I think I grunted something to her, but inside I was thinking "I am at my maximum and could not go faster if I wanted." Nevertheless, running with Nicola, even if not at her best pace, pushed me to go harder than if I had been running by myself. Sometimes, running with a better runner is humbling to one's ego, but if you can move beyond that then you may just find yourself being challenged to work harder and become better as well.
I finished in 6:10 hours and gained 3165m of elevation in total. What a great day of running:
Post race party at the Whistler Brewhouse: