Race report: The Beav 25k trail race

As a friend said to me the other day, “Do too many trail and adventure races and you will never go back to the road”. I’m most definitely hooked. I did my very first pure trail race in the spring of 2017, the Sulphur Springs 10k (as opposed to an adventure race with a trail running component, or an orienteering race in the woods). Then this spring I stepped it up and did the 5 Peaks Kelso trail half marathon. So when I searched for a fall trail race, The Beav 25k trail race at Hilton Falls Conservation Area put on by Happy Trails Racing looked enticing! Good thing I registered when I did, because this brand new race sold out long before race day! I hadn’t been to Hilton Falls in years, so I did a couple of my training runs there. The rest were on the Bruce Trail in the Dundas to Burlington area – varied terrain, but lots of hills and challenging rocky uneven ground. I figured it would be great training for Hilton Falls.
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Pre-race. First snow this fall. [Photo by Zindine S, who also volunteered at the start/finish]
On race morning there was snow and ice on the ground, and a temperature of -13C with the windchill. I worried that if I had to stop and walk I would freeze dressed as I normally would for running at that temperature, so I added another layer. I knew 5-10 people running the race, so I was pretty sure I would see some friendly faces as I ran. At 9:30 AM the race began. It wasn’t too long before I was on a single track trail, going the pace of the person directly in front of me. It was a slow pace, no faster than a walk at times, and I heard one woman comment, “I could do this pace!” This big pack of runners continued pretty much until we climbed the steepest part of the course, and then things spread out. At this point, I was already overheating so I took my extra layer off. I should have dressed as I always do in that temperature! I ran for a couple of km’s with triathlon friends, then continued on my own. I was careful as I ran over rocks and bridges, because icy conditions had “wipe-out” written all over the place. Amazingly I stayed upright and only kicked one root or rock the entire race!
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One of the more rocky sections of the course. [Photo by Sue Sitki]
I hit the first aid station at 4.5k, and the second just before 8k. They were well stocked with cookies and salty goodies of all kinds. I loved the reusable cups for water, which I made use of to wash down my Endurance Tap. I grabbed a small handful of M&Ms and learned the hard way that they are a bit hard to get through without water – I felt like I had chocolate and candy coating stuck in my teeth for a while! At this point, runners headed off for 9k of trails before returning to the same aid station. Photos by Chris L, fan extraordinaire: During some parts of the race, there was 2-way traffic, so I got to see many of the people I knew in the race, and many other familiar faces that I have seen at other races. I’ve never been in a race where so many people said, “way to go!”, “great job!”, “nice work!” etc. Trail runners are very friendly and encouraging people! I even got a mid-race high five from a random runner. At times I was running completely alone – I couldn’t see a soul ahead of me, or hear anyone behind me. It was very peaceful and pretty in the forest.
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One of the easier parts of the course.
Just before I hit the aid station after the 9k loop (and after about 17k of running), I had another Endurance Tap, and washed it down with water. I decided to try my first ever mid-race pickle. I grabbed a few chips, chatted with a volunteer and Jeff one of the race directors, who told us that the “worst was behind us” (except for what was in front of us).  I headed out, running for a few km’s with a man whose name I didn’t get. I liked that the race felt like it was split into different segments. Mentally it was easier to deal with 25k this way. After I left the aid station, I knew I would reach another one in just a few more km’s. At 20k my stomach was very unhappy for a short time, so sadly when I reached the last aid station, I opted out of eating a s’more prepared by the awesome volunteers at a fire near the falls. I continued running after grabbing some water, and it wasn’t long before my stomach was fine again. My hamstrings and calves were starting to feel a little bit tight, but I wasn’t concerned.
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Somewhere in the last few km’s of the race – still smiling! [Photo by Sue Sitki]
At around 24k or so, I had to climb a stile (ladder over a fence). I played it safe by descending it backwards on the other side of the fence! Then I ran the final few hundred metres to the finish line, crossing in a time of 3:15:13.
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Done!
I had a great first 25k trail race experience. I even ran a little faster than I expected to. The race was super well organized, the course was very well marked, and the volunteers (standing around in the cold for us) were fantastic!
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Check out the race hoodie! So comfy!
Thank you Happy Trails Racing. I’ll be back! Race stats:
  • Time: 3:15:13 (7:48 min/km)
  • Placing women 40-59: 19/66
  • Placing all women: 33/88
  • Placing all runners: 85/156
  • Elevation gain: 322m
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