If you’ve ever doubted that Canada is better at everything, consider this: In Canada, Sausage Egg McMuffins come with lettuce and tomatoes. I discovered this early on a Saturday morning in Trail, British Columbia. Just an hour later, I’d be setting out on a 25K trek up and down the summits of Red Mountain Resort in the neighboring town of Rossland.
The Broken Goat Ultra comes in three increasingly insane varieties: 12K, 25K, and 50K. Before we began, each runner’s mandatory pack was inspected for the required calories, hydration, outerwear, and map. Race Director Rene Unser sent us off with this message: We may find ourselves despairing at some point on the course, and at that time, we should think of a friend or family member who would give anything for the physical ability to be out there with us.
The majority of the 25K’s climbs were so steep that most of us opted for fast-paced hiking. The equally steep downhills began as welcome relief but eventually became a new form of torture. About halfway through, as I bounced around on a downhill stretch between rocks embedded in the single-track trail, I deliriously mused: “I feel like a little mountain goat!”
Then it dawned on me: “Ohhh. I am the goat. The Broken Goat. Wait. Broken? What do they mean, broken?!” That part started to make sense later, when even my zippy downhill gait was reduced to a painful shuffle. It was then that I recalled Usner’s challenge: I thought of a friend whose chronic illness prevents him from being as active as he would like to be and dedicated my run to him.
The gorgeous vistas that cropped up every few miles far outweighed the pain. The aid station came a solid 2 miles past where we’d been told it would be — but when it finally appeared, it had peanut M&Ms and Coca-Cola. All was immediately forgiven.
Revived, I mustered some percentage of my former enthusiasm and pulled out a solid finish time in the middle of the pack. I may have been the only 25K runner who doesn’t regularly engage in this particular form of masochism; I heard chatting in the Honeybucket line about the other trail ultras runners planned to compete in this summer and worried I was out of my depth. Most of the other runners had the smarts to wear thick-soled shoes to guard their feet against sharp rocks. Some had hiking poles. I cursed my minimalist trail shoes more than a few times along the course. I didn’t miss the poles too much, though I did see a few other runners scraped up badly from having tripped over rocks and fallen.
I was sore in different places than I usually am after road races — my ankles were a disaster, my lower back took a serious beating on the downhills and my hips were exhausted from all the climbing — but the run was totally doable even without any special goat-inspired training.
My husband and I camped for the weekend at the Lions Community Campground, which boasts the distinction of being “Rossland’s Only Campground.” It was noisy into the early hours of the morning, but a good-quality campsite with warm showers and friendly service. We skipped the race festivities — burgers and beer for lunch, a catered dinner and the awards ceremony — to satisfy my Thai food craving at Mook Thai Cuisine and try five-pin bowling. Yes, even the bowling is better in Canada.
Registration for the July 15, 2017 Broken Goat will open on December 10, 2016 at PaceTrailSeries.com. //
Erika Prins Simonds writes our Everyday Cyclist column. She also wrote about honeymoon camping for newbies in August. Find more of her writing at erikaprints.com.