While it is infinitely late, we figured this was one race we couldn’t not post about!!
Born to Run…where it all started for me. The race that made me realize ultras are my calling. From the get go, we could tell this race was unique. As soon as we arrived to the race grounds: a cattle ranch in the middle of California’s hills. We claimed a spot with our little Kia Soul on the campgrounds and almost immediately were throwing on our Xeros and pumping ourselves up for the annual Tarahumara Ball Races. Line up with 5 other people on the start line and as soon as the shotgun fires (yep an actual shotgun) start kicking your wooden ball through the 200m or so course. How did we do? To say the least, if the Olympics had this race in their lineup of events, Canada could be taking home a lot more gold medals every year. Jonathan, myself, and one other Canadian all won our heats and with 7 heats total, it’s safe to say we represented The Great North fairly well!
How do you usually wake up come race day?
An alarm clock right? Not here. We were woken up at 4:30 am Born to Run style which consists of 5 shotgun rounds firing off followed by mariachi music blasting through the campground. We fall out of the tent to see Luis Escobar, the race director, standing on the stage across from our tent in a full-blown mariachi/Mexican outfit.
This was my first ultra so to say I was nervous standing on that start line would be a mass understatement. I hadn’t even started running yet and I already felt like I had runner’s gut. This would be my first time every tackling this distance in one go and all in a huarache style sandal called Xero Shoes. But before I psyched myself out pass the point of no return, I started to get my confidence up, reminding myself of how many of hours I poured into training to get to where I was and how lucky I was to be here to race this world renowned ultra. Before I knew it we were all chanting the race oath, “If I get lost, hurt, or die…it’s my own damn fault!”, and were off. Jon and I were off fast onto the figure 8 shaped course. After finishing the first loop we began to realize we jumped a bit too fast out of the gate and started to pull the reins back; we did have another 85 km to go. Towards the middle and end of the race, we ran into a bit of runners gut (Jon) and knee pains (Mel), and then both decided to run 4 miles off course, but just as Luis had said at the race briefing, no race will ever go as you planned. The course we both agreed was absolutely amazing. It was a nice mix of moderate difficulty terrain, and gorgeous Californian farmland scenery.
14 hours and 17 minutes later we crossed the finish line of our first ultra marathon together. Both extremely fatigued and ready for some good ol’ homemade food whipped up by Luis’ sister…or at least we thought. Jon and I both managed to almost puke or faint as soon as we got food in our hands. Sitting in some aid station chairs with our head between our legs and volunteers rubbing our backs; we both had the same thought in mind…”Get yourself together and up quick because we have a guy with a beer in his hand waiting to tattoo us.” And that’s exactly what we did. We pulled ourselves together, hobbled over to a mosquito tent, flopped onto a lawn chair inside and got “Run Free” tattooed along each of our feet by a guy using a generator to power his gun. Now you cannot find a more unique tattoo story than that!
The Born to Run Ultra opened my eyes to the ultra world. The running community in these types of races is the friendliest you’ll meet. It took me awhile to comprehend what I had just done since I was once that person that said “Run a 100km straight? You’re crazy!”. But I got hooked and this race made me realize running ultras is something I want to pursue.
Remember to always run free and enjoy every minute of it!!