Tuesday, August 25, 2009

47k Juan de Fuca Trail Run - August 22, 2009

I hate to start this blog entry with excuses, but all the indicators leading up to this day were telling me that this day was going to be a rough one. In fact, I had serious doubts that I would be able to finish the distance this time.
Since the Nootka Trail Run 2 weeks ago, my body has had deep fatigue, and my running has been extremely sluggish. The last two run group workouts, I have pulled out, simply because my legs couldn't hang on. This is not like me at all. Dropping out usually for me is never an option.
Coupled with this fatigue was the fact that my family went on a family trip to Vancouver 2 days before the run. While that may sound all fluffy and nice, it was totally draining. The first day there, we spent just over 3 hours at PlayLand. 3 kids (5,3,1) for 3 hours at PlayLand. The second day, was spent at ScienceWorld, and was pretty much the same crazy agenda. Also Cooper has been teething, so the sleeps have been very poor. 3,4,5 hours of sleep became the norm. Vancouver would prove to be no different to this pattern.
On the ferry ride back to the Island, I met Annie, Simon and Bob, who were doing the run the next day. I spent most of the ferry ride filling them in on the details of the run. Meeting new people - and almost always, there are awesome people - is always one of the highlights of running.
About the only thing I had done well, I felt, was my nutrition. I thought that if my body could just get rested up, I would have the fuel to carry me through the trail.
That night though, I went to bed anxious as hell for a run that should have been filled with excitement.

Run Day
Early Saturday morning, I grabbed all my gear and went to pick up Carlos. He and I then zipped out to the Thetis rendezvous spot, where we then waited and met most of the runners that day. The idea was that we would then carpool from this location, but as it turned out, most people had already figured out their respective rides and all the cars were already full. So, we all just bombed out to China Beach, which would be the starting point of our run.
I was amazed that we had 21 runners there that morning. I was excited to see my partner-in-crime, Bob Wall and his family in the parking lot. Also there was last year's course record-maker, Shawn Nelson.
After figuring out the transport logistics and gearing up, we all set off at 7:33 am that morning.
I actually felt good that morning, and my legs seemed alright. I decided on the car ride out that I would attempt to go at my usual fast pace, and just see how things went, knowing that there was a strong possibility that at 30k I would bonk.
As it turns out, I led the pace for the first little bit. I was feeling great, and my feet longed to be hitting such a wicked trail. The mud didn't seem to bad, and the trail was in excellent condition. Even though it was a little wet, the dry summer had made the trail drier than I had ever seen the trail before. Some of the new runners in our group remarked at how wet the trail was, but it actually was dry, relative to previous years. After all, this was the JdF Trail...it is permanently wet in most places.
Shawn Nelson joined me for the first bit with the early pace. He was keen this year to not only break the course record, but he also was saying he though he was capable of 5:30 this year. He, no doubt, was in the best shape of his life, but a goal time of 5:30 was a tall order for anyone. However, time would only tell if this could be done.
As we hit the Mystic Beach at Km 2, I had my head up along the beach section trying to eye the trailhead again. It was here that in two previous runs I would get momentarily lost. But not this year. I could see the sign (which was located right behind a rock), leading us back onto the trail. So Shawn and I blasted up the hill back into the rainforest.
By now, another runner was keen to join our tandem. Shane Ruljancich, perhaps the Island's best climber, was now with us at the front. I had spent some time running with him during our Hurricane Ridge Run, and I was not surprised to see him up with the keeners. However, he was, by no means, a long distance guy, and I was interested to see just how long he could last on a 47k run.
So the run continued for the next few kilometres in the forest. Salal, sometimes higher than my head, surrounded the trail in places. Cedar and fir trees composed the rest of the forest. It really is spectacular, the beauty that our world has. On a couple of occasions, both Shawn and Shane commented on how fast the pace was. I didn't really notice.
Around Kilometer 5, I stopped to take a pee and Shawn and Shane passed me. It was then that I noticed yet another runner who was just behind. Sean Chester caught up to me and we ran together for a little bit. I didn't know Sean, but his reputation preceded this first meeting. He was a track champ, specializing in the 3000m, 5000m and the 10,000m distances. He had run for UVIC just recently, and done very well from what I had heard. Like Shane, he is an incredibly talented runner, but would this long run just be too much for him? I knew that he had completed a 50k race on a flat surface a couple years back, so I suppose he could pull it off. Again, time would only tell.
At Kilometre 9, the trail once again gave way to another beach section, appropriately named Bear Beach. The rocks on Bear Beach made it next to impossible to run, but we attempted to keep moving, even though our running stride was less than picture perfect. The front two guys were still not too far ahead. I could see them about 45 seconds infront, and Sean Chester raced ahead to join them. That left me on my own, and I could see nobody behind me in my rear-view mirror.
As we hit the trail again at the end of Bear Beach, I was now on my own. The trail now in this section gets very hilly, and power hiking up the slopes is the norm. The quads sure taking a beating pressing up the hills, only to hammer back on them on the sharp downhills.
The Juan de Fuca Trail is best summed up by the description of going up a steep hill, getting to the top, then going down a steep hill on the other side, then crossing a river, and then repeating that pattern 50 times. That is the trail, and that is what this section was certainly all about.
I was mentally fine with being on my own for this run. You kinda always hope to run with someone (especially when there were 21 of us!), but I knew the trail well enough and I really was at peace out there.
I was surprised then at around Kilometre 12, to see Sean Chester waiting for me around a corner. He had just taken a pee, and he had decided to let the other two top dogs go. His tactic was smart, as getting out too fast on such a long trail would only come to haunt him in the end. Him waiting for me was a sign that he wanted someone to run with this day, and that someone was me. It was now at this point that I got a really good chance to look at this guy. He looked a bit out of sorts, really. He was wearing racing flats, split shorts, a lumberjack shirt and carrying a 1.5L plastic pop bottle that he dropped regularly. He complained that his long hair was in his face, and at times, made it hard too see. However, as odd as this pairing was, he and I were committed for the long haul together.
It is always nice to get to know new people on these runs. Over the course of the trail, I would say I got to know him. Besides, let's face it, there isn't really a whole lot to do with someone for hours on end, except get to know them.
Sean and I made steady progress over this hilly section. It certainly was wet at times, and by this point, my ankles were caked in mud. Things though, were going well for me. I felt good and was keen to show this new guy around my neighborhood. I think this was also one of the reasons Sean wanted to run with me. I know the JdF Trail very well, having run it 4 times before, and he wanted to make sure no wrong turn were taken along the way.
At Kilometre 21, we finally made it to the next section of beach. Sean and I stopped briefly to grab a gel and we were both relieved to get that monotonous section of trail over. It's wasn't easy, but we were now close to the half way point of our run. I think we were about 2 hours into the run now. Now, I knew, would be the real test for my body. Was my body recovered fully from the Nootka Trail, completed only 2 weeks ago? Could I keep this pace?
Chin Beach is not a whole lot different than Bear Beach. Not much of it is run-worth, but Sean and I did our best to make haste on the rocks and gravel beaches. By now there was no sight of the leaders infront of us, and no doubt, they were likely a good 10-15 minutes now ahead. However, I really didn't care. In fact, I thought to myself, if there are any bears on the trail, those two fastees will scare them off the trail!
At the end of Chin Beach, I saw the trailhead marker on an outstretched rock. I pointed this out to Sean, and then told him I knew of a short cut. He was game, and I then told him the story of my last outing on the trail. Last year at this very point (I was running with Shawn Nelson), we missed the trail marker and continued on the beach by accident. As it turns out, we sneaked out nicely ahead by about 100m, and as a result, avoided one (maybe two?) of the headland climbs. I assumed that Shawn (and Shane) likely did the same thing this year as well, and I noticed two sets of footprints going the same direction on the beach along the shortcut.
Well, the shortcut worked perfectly. It can only be done at low tide, but it took us under a sea arch and around a point to a small trickling river. We then climbed onto the edge of this river where we rejoined the JdF Trail. The shortcut worked perfectly, and we were back on track.
More hills, more mud, more roots. The JdF truly is a battle and we were now about to have our mental game tested to the nth degree. At Kilometer 25, I could see the Loss Creek Bridge ahead, and I told Sean to prepare himself for something quite remarkable. On the bridge, it was an awesome feeling. This suspension bridge is a huge one, and passes 100-150 feet above the canyon. Waterfalls can be seen, and it was awesome to see Sean get excited about this. Probably this bridge and the sea arch we saw earlier are the two highlights of the trail for me. Truly awesome.
The only bad news about the suspension bridge is what follows it. And what follows it is the biggest climb on the trail. The next section went up, then up, then even further up.
We made it however, and took a small break at the top to gel up and rehydrate. My body now was beginning to diminish a little. My legs were a little heavy and my calves were a little tight. I actually got a small cramp in my left abductor muscle (one of those damn stabilizers) just after Chin Beach, but it had since gone away. So, I stuck to my game plan of taking one gel and S-Cap every hour and grabbing a drink of water whenever I could ontop of that.
Sean was out of water, but I alerted him to the fact that a refilling station, in the form of the Sombrio Waterfall was only about 2 kilometres away.
So we made short work of the next section - which is the only flat, fast section - and we could now see Sombrio Beach and the Sombrio Waterfall way in the distance. But as nice as the flat section was, it certainly didn't last for very long, and now we were scrambling around a rocky coastal trail which had sections of mud and roots that grinded the pace right down to nothing. Slippery, muddy stairs also paved the way around Sombrio Point, and finally we made it to the waterfall.
Here, we made a full-fledged stop and I refilled my Nathan Hydropack. More gels, more S-Caps. Sean filled his pop bottle and was chatting to a couple that was sitting upstream. The young couple was taking to Sean with great interest, and the young guy, was claiming that he wanted to run the distance of the trail. He was asking Sean about his marathon time and this guy was telling us just how good and tough he was. In hindsight, this guy was likely just talking trying to impress his girlfriend about how much of a man he was.
I urged Sean to get moving again, and we were on our way, heading toward Sombrio Beach. We eventually made it and we happy once again to be on a beach section, even though running it was nothing short of impossible.
As we got onto the beach, I saw a shelter that had a stereo, speakers and an amp. It appeared that some party, or band had been there. As we staggered along the beach, I saw a familiar face wave at me from the side. It was Steve Murenbeeld (aka Merm). He asked us how things were going and offered us a free beer. I could see a sparkle in Sean's eye, and perhaps a hint of drool. He then looked at me and with hesitation, reluctantly declined. This was for the best. There was no cause for celebration, as we only just were passed the half way point. 2 hours and 40 minutes. The leaders were 10 minutes infront.
As we ran again, we found a small, flat rock path that was etched into Sombrio Beach. This was the only mechanism for moving along what was simply crappy terrain.
I was then surprised to see yet another familiar face calling out to us from ahead. It was my running coach, Bob Reid. He was telling us to get inland where there was apparently a nice trail. Well, a nice flat trail sounded a hell of a lot better than the beach, so we gambled and went off the beach. In my previous runs, I had never gone this way before. But, it was hugely successful, and we found a flat piece of awesome trail that took us 600m to the top end of Sombrio.
At the top end, we were forced once again onto the beach, but the bypass trail had likely made us some time for Sean and I.
We were now moving along slippery rocks, just trying to keep from falling. Running wasn't happening along this stretch and we just simply tried to keep moving and gaining some ground. It seemed to take a long time before we finally found the trailhead once again. We were very pleased to get off the beach, and this would be the end of the beach running for us this day. With a quick motivation and mental check, we hit the muddy trail once again at Kilometre 30.
This next section of the trail, for me, is the toughest. Not a whole lot is runnable, and it just seems to beat you up. My body was beginning to resist a little and I could feel things diminishing somewhat. I had bombed out before twice on this section of the trail, and I was going to do everything in my power to not let this happen again.
On the other hand, Sean was now leading and seemed to be as strong as ever. His lead pulled me through the difficult times on this stretch and we eventually made it up to Payzant at Kilometre 37. I can't tell you why this last section is so tough. It seems to come at a time when your body is pretty much obliterated. And as tough as it always seems to be, the one thing I knew this time, is that I had never done it so well.
So now with only 10k to go, we were now on the home stretch. I could just tell that Sean was feeling strong and he had been checking over his shoulder to see if I was with him for the past couple of k's.
I told Sean that it was time. It was time for him to leave me and finish strong. I was lagging and he had a finishing kick inside of him. We checked our watches and we knew that it was possible for him to finish under 6 hours if he went hard. I lumbered ahead and then eventually at Kilometre 38, Sean zipped by and was out of sight in no time.
The final stretch for me was a test of how well I could hang on. The trail in this section now becomes flatter, but the boardwalks that were along the trail (and there are many in this section) were as slippery as ice. I had to be careful not to fall down. My body was cramping in many different muscles now, but it wasn't too bad. I had experienced far worse.
I was hanging on nicely now, and even though my stride was short and my range of motion was a bare minimum, I was covering ground.
With only 3k to go, I checked my watch. Running time was 5:39. I quickly did the math: I had 3k to go and 21 minutes to do it. 7 minutes per kilometre seemed easy enough, so I decided to go for it. A sub 6 time for me would be ridiculous.
The next kilometre went fast, but not fast enough. I covered it in 9 minutes, so now I had to do the last 2k in 12 minutes. But, I knew the last 2k were pretty easy. I still had a chance.
Kilometre 46 went by in 6 minutes. I had done well, and I thought I could do it.
I was now on the finishing road up to the parking lot and I had 6 minutes to get to the top.
But, I couldn't quite do it. The ground was easy enough to run upon, but the uphill at this point was not easily run. I tried desperately to run up it, but met alot of resistance.
I made it to the finish at 6:01.
It was a heck of a day for me. I had come off a 2 week taper after Nootka and nailed my best run on the JdF Trail. A 24 minute improvement from that of last year. And, I didn't feel horrible at the end. I was extremely proud of myself. In any other year, this would be a major course record.
However, as good as my day was, some people out there also had epic runs.
Shawn Nelson ran strong throughout and finished in 5:28.
Shane Ruljancich ran strong for most of it, but bombed out in the last 10k to finish at 5:51.
Sean Chester hammered his last 10k after leaving me and finished in 5:43.
Full results can be viewed here.
In the end, all 21 runners survived and had a great time out there on the trail. Some went fast, and some just tried to survive the distance.
So, now I leave the JdF behind me. Mission accomplished.
Next race is 4 weeks away, where I will do the 56k Great Lake Walk.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

40k Nootka Trail Run - Aug. 8th, 2009

The Nootka Trail Run was a run that was actually intended for last year. However, logistically and financially it simply did not happen in time for me last summer. Once again, my buddy Bob Wall would be joining me for this epic adventure.
So for over a year I have been planning, training, and gearing up for this one special day. This day would mark the conclusion of the "West Coast Conquest". Completing this run, would make Bob and I the only people to have run the 4 major coastal trails of Vancouver Island (JdF, WCT, NCT, and Nootka). Unlike the other trails, there is not much information on the Nootka Trail really out there. A good map was difficult to find, but eventually one was found and once again, I took the liberty of studying the map and the guidebook thoroughly in preparation for the big day.
A few days before the run, there was some concern as to the state of Gold River. The town was on evacuation standby, as a forest fire was within 2k of the city and withing 400m of the city's powerlines.

Friday (Pre-Run)
The day before the run, my parents picked me up just after lunch and we zipped up to Campbell River to pick up Bob. Bob and his wife, Tammy, picked out a pasta joint where we all had dinner. After loading up on a chipotle-blue cheese-bison pasta, we hit the open road and made our way towards Gold River.
As we rounded Buttle Lake, we kept our eyes peeled for any signs of the forest fire. Coming this far, we didn't want to be stopped short of our upcoming run. About 5k away from the city, we smelled smoke and could see the hillside in smoke. It did not seem that bad, and in no time at all, we were at our hotel in Gold River.
We checked into our hotel, and made a group decision to take the 13k drive to the port of Gold River, which would be where we were catching the floatplane at 6:30 am the next morning. It was an easy drive and there was not much to see at the dock, except for an active mill and a few Air Nootka floatplanes in the water.
On our way back however, something caught my eye. I could see our hotel from a distance and it really looked like the top of the hotel was on fire. Smoke was bellowing up behind our hotel, and it was shocking how close this fire was to our hotel.
Our hotel was full that night. Full of firefighters. Their gear was all hanging from the railings outside the hotel, and it really hit home that this town was in trouble.
In the hotel room, Bob and I got all our gear sorted out. We spent a while figuring out exactly what would go in our bag (we called it "The Finishing Bag") that would be there with my parents at the finish.
It was about then that I heard Bob say, "Oh Sh!t!".
I said, "What?"
He said, "I forgot my shorts."
I said, "Are you serious?"
After getting over the initial shock of having no shorts, Bob now recollected himself and decided he would go in style for the run. He was going to run in his boxer shorts.
I took a few digs at him immediately and I told him that I'd make sure that the people back at home would soon know how an ex-national level runner could make such a stupid mistake.
We then went to bed, and in no time at all, it was race day.

Saturday (Run Day)
We met Brad from Air Nootka at 6:25 am and we boarded the small Beaver floatplane. For my parents, it was an opportunity to sightsee Nootka Sound from an aerial viewpoint, something that they had wanted to do for years. For Bob and myself, it was time to mentally prepare for the endurance event that lay ahead.
The plane trip was nothing short of phenomenal. Although the weather was foggy and drizzly, the plane flew very low to the ground and we could see just how scenic this area truly was. The plane trip took us completely up the distance of the Nootka Trail, so we got to see it before we had to run it. At the top end of the trail, the plane took a sharp right turn and then started it's decent. The only problem now I could see is that the plane was descending into a forest, rather than water. However, at the last minute the trees disappeared and we descended into a place called Starfish Lagoon. I had never landed in a floatplane before, so I was expecting a hard landing. However, it was as soft as anything, and after landing, pilot Brad turned off the engine and we coasted up to the shore. As we did this, I looked into the water and now realised why it was called Starfish Lagoon. It was brilliant seeing all the hundreds of different Starfish and Batstars under the coasting plane.
Bob and I then thanked the pilot, said goodbye to my parents, then hopped into the knee-deep ocean water and began our run at the flagging tape that marked the beginning of the trail.
And I do not know why, but I expected the trail to be fairly well travelled initially. I imagined something like a gentle chip trail guiding us in the first couple of kilometres from Starfish Lagoon down to Third Beach. However, the opposite happened.
The trail was rugged and gnarly. There was lots of blowdown logs to cross, foliage to forage through and roots galore. Flagging tape guided us a short ways down a river, but I was surprised to see us come out to Third Beach in 10 minutes.
Third Beach was beautiful. Open sand and beautiful marine coastline marked what is the Nootka Trail. We kept the ocean now to our right and skirted along the shore, not needing the high tide headland trail. The tides worked perfectly here. The tide was out and would be that way for much of the run. The planning had paid off.
However, it was not long before the beach ended and we were forced into the trail. This for me was unexpected. The map I studied so carefully showed coastline running here, and for a good, long while were battled through the gnarly trail. And it wasn't easy. We did our best to get in a few running strides here and there, but we were mostly just speed hiking now through the coastal rainforest. Cedar Trees, 10 foot salal, mud and roots seemed to be the theme.
I led the pace with Bob trailing behind. I kept the pace firm, but around one corner, I smashed the side of my Nathan Hydropak into a skinny tree. The tree ripped at one of my pouches, and I was now forced to carry my gels in my short pockets.
Soon enough, we were now back on the beach. The tide was way out now, and Bob and I found the marine shelf perfect for running on. Perfect, except for the fact that it was damn slippery and one false step into a tiny tidepool could mean the end of the journey.
Algae of all kinds coated the shelf and rocks. Some of them were just fine for running on, while others (the brown shiny one) may the surface just like ice...and we had to reduce our pace accordingly.
I was feeling good at this point. The weather was ideal for running, and we were certainly covering some ground. Where the shelf became too slippery or too rocky, we headed up to the beach for some running. It was not always possible to run the beach, but we did our damndest to keep moving. It was also hard to tell exactly where we were on the trail. It was so easy to tell with a map and also by air, but now on the ground, it all just looked like endless beach running. And it kinda was.
The nutrition plan was consistent with all my long runs: stop every hour, take an S-Cap and a Gel, and take sips of my diluted Carbo-Pro Water along the way. Bob had a similar plan as well, except he preferred to eat Cliff Bars along the way instead of going with all gels.
We eventually hit a hard packed beach and saw a landmark, you could not miss: Calvin Falls. We knew now that we were about half way through our journey. After a few token photos, we ran on, following the footprints of three bears in the sand.
The sight of bear prints in the sand did not scare or, nor surprise us. The prints were going the same way as we were, and provided that we just kept our heads up, we would be fine.
We carried along at the standard pace, and the scenery was now getting a little monotonous with seeing ocean on our right, beach on our left, and the combination of rocks and shelf infront of us. At one point, we thought we saw a sealion in the distance, but alas, as we got closer, it was just a rock that looked exactly like a sealion. A marine mirage. Later we would hear that this corner was actually Bajo Point, just past the half way point.
Occasionally, we would cross a small river along the way, but we found it really difficult to relate where we were in conjunction with the map. However, we eventually got to a bay that had two rustic native dwellings on it (with solar panels!), so we knew that we were at Beano Creek. This was the final stretch of beach running, and the inland trail lay only about 1k ahead.
Shortly after Beano Creek though, something then happened I will remember for the rest of my life. As we were running the shelf, I planted my left foot on a rock that can only be described as a 45 degree skateboard ramp. The ramp dropped on the other side. As I planted, I completely slipped on that foot (and my entire weight was on that foot), and I went down. And went down hard. As I fell, I got my hands down to cushion my fall and pretty much got my face drenched in saltwater. I felt an acute pain in my leg and Bob asked me if I was ok. I told him that I needed a minute and I was now clutching my leg. Bob asked me if I was hurt and I said I thought my leg was hurt. I then took a look at my hands briefly only to see them covered in blood. I took about 2 minutes to put direct pressure on my leg. Without a first aid kit, direct pressure was about the only strategy I had to stop the bleeding.
Bob and I now took a look at my leg and it was a small puncture wound that went deep all the way into my tibia. Apparently it now appeared that my leg smashed against the skateboard ramp that had a barnacle placed on it.
While my leg was the main concern, I was also bleeding outta both palms. Bracing my fall meant driving my hands into a couple of the local periwinkles. My left hand wasn't bad at all, but my right hand had a deep cut on it. Cool. More blood.
It was only sheer luck that I decided to wear a long-sleeve running shirt that day. Now, Bob was using the edge of a mussel shell to cut open my shirt along the seam. The plan worked, and we now had a bandage that I tied tightly to my leg.
I got up and tried walking.
I could walk. There certainly was pain from my leg, but it wasn't too too bad.
After a minute, I tried jogging and I could do it. At this point, I had regained hope that I was going to finish the trail. For a moment there lying on the shelf, I had my doubts.
We now followed bear prints again in the sand that took us to the inland trail marker.
The trail was again similar to the previous inland trails. There was maybe a little more runnable terrain now, but there was certainly enough blowdown to keep us from getting a good pace on. Also did I mention ropes? Well there were around 12 of them in this section, and you needed most of them going up and down the scramble sections.
My leg only hurt when I had to jump down (and this was fairly often), and my right hand would not stop bleeding. This run required your hands to navigate through the trail. I was relieved that in about an hour, my right hand finally settled down and stopped bleeding.
The rest of the Nootka Trail now was sections of hilly trail and small pocket beaches. I think I counted about 8 pocket beaches in total.
We got excited when we saw a sign that said Maquinna Point, because we thought we must be close to the end. However, as is the case in many long runs, the end is always a little further than one would always like. So on we slogged.
In fact, as the trail got on, my leg became a non-issue. I was feeling great physically, and my body was showing little sign of fatigue and no sign of cramping. I still led, and bob now looked like he was lagging a little behind me. Perhaps it was because I knew the end was near, but I was actually ready to hammer the last little stretch of trail.
We passed a few hikers at this point, and I assumed that they were hiking their way out to the ferry. This only encouraged me more.
But as the trail popped out of the woods, we were now at the edge of a river, and Bob and I questioned if we had taken a wrong turn somewhere. The trail was not completely obvious to us which way to go. We backtracked slightly and tried to follow some footprints, but it didn't help us much.
We decided that we had to cross the river, and it was deep. At the deepest point, it came up to my hips, but we did make it across. Now across the river, we followed some footprints up to a trail that now went inland. We followed this trail for quite some time now, and came to a saltwater lagoon. The trail now, was nowhere to be seen and we had no idea where we were.
Bob was tempted to bushwhack through the forest in the obvious direction, but I was the voice of reason, and led the way back to where we crossed the river.
We now took the direction of the beach and before too long, we saw footprints again headed the same way as us. Shortly thereafter, we could see people ahead in the distance and a lighthouse way in behind them.
We passed the people, ignoring the strange looks we were given, and found an old ATV/Quad Trail that seemed to be going the right direction. We saw more people now, and we were definitely on the home stretch. I could now see an old church now at the end of the road and my parents were up there, now excited to see us.
We finished the trail in 5:40. With the exception of the viscous fall I took, it was an extremely strong run for me. Now, the dream was complete. The 4 major coastal trails had been completed.
We took the ceremonial finishing photo, then got on some warm clothes and refuelled with some bagels and Powerade.
The ride home on the UChuck III boat was relaxing and scenic, but also very slow. At this point, I was keen to just get home and rest. And eventually, I did just that.
The nootka Trail was 40k in distance. I'd say it was 3/4 beach running and 1/4 trail running. The trail sections resembled the North Coast Trail more than anything else (ie. hard), while the beach sections were more like the West Coast Trail (ie. manageable).
Now with this trail complete, it only begs the question: What is next?