Although I couldn’t really claim to have run all fifty of the kilometres – like most people, I walked a lot of the steep uphills. On a course with 1700 metres of climbing, there were definitely some steep little climbs in there. And I did stop for a bathroom break, and to stock up on food. And to take a photo. But mostly I ran. And ran. And ran. For over five hours. But it was strangely easier than I was expecting. I was assuming there would be soul-crushing agony, teeth-gnashing, and stomach-gurgling, dead legs and embittered spirit. But instead there was just tree roots to jump over, people to high five, and say hello to, signs to look for, and more people to chase.
The course was at the Nordic Centre, so all the trails were familiar, mainly because I’d mountain-biked a lot of the single trail many times before. The sections of double-track were familiar from winter skiing adventures, and less fun to run on, but not as bad as I was expecting either. Although single track is much more fun, it also takes a lot more concentration to run on.
A team of friends were doing the whole thing as a relay, so I spent each leg wondering if I could catch up to them, or maybe catch a glimpse of them on the few sections of overlapping track. Instead I just found them all every time I ran through transition, with the next person already sent out on the leg I was about to embark on – although I did catch the first and last person for high-five action on the track as we passed.
All in all, it was an awesome event. Well organised, fairly well signed (Leg 3 and 4 could have both done with a few more signs to clarify things a little better at a few points), and a lot of fun. The variety of the five different legs made the 50 kilometres travel by a lot quicker than it might have done otherwise too.
A couple of years ago I assumed that people who ran 20 kilometres were a little crazy – forgetting that I’d kind of done that sort of thing when we were rogaining a lot about ten years ago – but then the running was more of a by-product rather than the main goal, so it never seemed to count. You never really know what crazy things you’ll end up enjoying.