by Chantal Chlala, FitU Master Blogger and Trail Runner
So a year later here I am at the same spot in the heart of St-Mathieu-du-Parc forest running the 21km. Mario Villemure, technical Director, promised us an amazing and challenging trail and it truly was. We ran through an array of natural obstacles, culminating to a steady uphill at km14 which really tested my tired and heavy legs.
I didn't manage to make it in my projected cut-off time and a sharp pain in my right hip impeded my stride and used up all my mental energy for about 19km.
They say take the time to see and absorb the beautiful scenery and that I sure did!
Velcia with an aching foot pushed hard throughout the course and once again, we ended up crossing the finish line together. Julie came in 4min after us for a great showing on her first ever half on trail. Summer-Rose running in the 3km was caught in the wasp nest which surprised about 20 runners on the course and was left with a couple of stings, some tears and quite a story to tell on her first day of school!
This was by no means an easy run, struggling through physical pain and mental exhaustion. However, there was no question that we had to finish. Relief actually came when my Garmin beeped to signal the completion of km18 with Velcia screaming out in delight: “Rigaud Shack!”….Only those who show up for our Sunday FitU Trail Run Fun Team Rigaud trail runs will get that one ;) And it was great to have Eric be the first one to greet us at the finish line with a huge hug and delicious watermelon.
Running high and excitement aside, the highlight of this long weekend was actually volunteering the day before at an aid station for the 80km & 50km ultra runners. We were to spend the Friday night at the Lac Huppé refuge and be ready to set up the aid station early Saturday morning in time for the first runners to arrive around 7:40am.
Described as a “SUPER petit chalet” by Mélanie Bernier, who had the enormous task of organising volunteer logistics and planning, our Lac Huppé chalet was pleasant if you are not expecting water and electricity….and ooh yeah, Eric said something about an outhouse. Never having been camping in my whole ENTIRE life, I wasn’t too sure what an outhouse was and kept wondering how one flushes a toilet without running water. And “What do I wear in a sleeping bag?” Which I obviously didn’t have! Despite it all, I showed up ready to conquer nature at its most raw state, holding my pillow in one hand and my toothbrush in the other.
We drove for about 30min over huge boulders, navigating through trees and roots on what seemed to be an interminable rugged path leading to the end of the world. “Are you sure, we have enough gas?” By the time we arrived, the whole forest was pitch black and guess what, that green shake I drank during the ride had made its way to my bladder. This is when I was directed to the outhouse with a flashlight and a wet nap “What?! Where?!”…hum…glad I didn’t eat the chilli served at the volunteers’ dinner where we picked up our supplies for the aid station.
I will spare you the details of my Diva moments and just say that it was quite an interesting experience. But I couldn’t have asked for more patient and understanding friends who put up with my mini-composed tantrums.
And I thought the whole volunteering thingy was just gonna be about prancing around in bright flashy t-shirt with a cool buff in my hair.
It was quite a cold humid morning…thank goodness for the nutella which kept me warm. Before you ask, yes I did share with the runners who also needed the quick sugar rush. As we did not get any salt with our supplies for the boiled potatoes, Velcia came to the rescue with her little stash of Himalayan salt which added a little touch of class to our food spread ;)
Now, I can and must admit that the Lac Huppé night trauma was totally worth it as manning the Aid Station was a fantastic experience! We had the chance to see the 80km runners twice & witness the amazing run of Sébastien Roulier who finished with a 1hr lead over the rest of the pack and then opened our 21km trail the next morning! I got to talk to and encourage amazing athletes in both the 80km and 50km who took time to chat as we replenished their drinks and ensured they had all they needed to keep going.
Overall a truly amazing weekend, surrounded by awesome and dedicated people, starting with the organisers to the ventire team of volunteers and runners. The Eureka Search & Rescue duo, Laurent & Pierre, who were stationed with us were absolutely delightful. We already look forward to manning the Lac Huppé R3 Aid station with them again next year. (Pictures of our Aid station)
But for now, we are setting our sights on Team FitU’s next race: Ultra-Trail Harricana in Charlevoix on September 13th. I don’t know if there’ll be drama but there’ll be a blog for sure!