I now sit with aching ankles and reflect back on this particular event. This is what I wrote on the eve of the race: "August 31, 2013: Sitting on sunny deck listening to river torrents on a chill Saturday. Eric is still wondering if he should put an extra pair of shoes in his drop bag and I am nervous about a 10km run?! Yes it's all relative, looking at the map of my run (note to self: told you not to look!) my 10km will probably feel like a half marathon in quick sand. Meanwhile, V will be testing her legs and endurance on a steep uphill on her way to her first 25km. OK gotta remember that I run because it makes me feel good & accomplished and hum….is too late to back out of this now!"
As it turned out, this was my best race from both a physical and mental view point. Smooth 10km on a single track trail with nature's obstacles: rocks, tree branches, splashes of mud and roots,. Many roots! At no point in my head was there any doubt as to why I was out there or that I would have a good run. The breathing was steady from the moment the race started and the legs felt strong throughout.
Sep 1st, 2013: The day I became a runner :-)
La Chute du Diable was also a great event due to the quality of its organization and overall excellent running etiquette and sportsmanship. Several distances were featured on this day: 50km, 25km, 10km, 5km and 3km with a varied number of participants. There was also a 1km family event to enable children of all ages to run the same trails that their parents had just been through. It was nice to see the joy and pride of a 50km participant who crossed the finish line just in time to go back out there for the 1km run with his young son.
Held in the beautiful forest of St-Mathieu-du-Parc, the event attracted avid runners. Organizers had set the tone in their newsletters by advising participants that recycling was not an option and that no plastic bottles would be available. Various trash and recycling bins were available throughout the site. Participant and spectators alike were encouraged to bring their own reusable plates/cutlery for the after race meal. At the water stations, runners could refill their reusable bottles or hydration packs. 50k ultra runners were given a collapsible reusable cup to carry on them. As a result of these eco-conscious actions, the trails and main site remained clean and debris free throughout the day.
As trail running grows in popularity, it is important to keep limitations on the number of entrants in order to preserve the overall integrity of the trails. By offering various distances on the same day, La Chute du Diable organizers were able to spread out runners and avoid overcrowding on the trails. There were still some holdups due to the configuration of the trails. For the future, organizers should consider having different departure times per distance. This is already being done at the Xtrail Asics events this year (Sutton: June/Orford: October) where at time of registration, participants in the most popular distances (5km and 11.5km) must select a specific time of departure reflected by their average pace time on the road (3 choices at 5min intervals). This allows the fast runners to get a head start and not be held up on the single track portions of the trail. This also enables organizers to increase the numbers of participants in each category. In addition, race entry fees include a mandatory contribution to the parks’ conservation fund.
Regardless of necessary rules and limitations, such events must be kept accessible and family oriented so as to set the example and pass on the love of trail running from one generation to the next.