For those unfamiliar with MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op), it is a lifestyle store that sells outdoor apparel and equipment, and hosts clinics for bikers, hikers and runners. Recently, MEC decided to branch into a running series across Canada. It is usually a low-key no frills running event which costs on average about $20 for a half marathon. For the ones who do not necessarily care about receiving running medals, they have carved a niche in the running/racing market.
I usually sign up for their races not too far in advance, depending on if my running schedule allows. So three weekends ago, I ran one of their races in Langley’s Campbell Valley. So many runners mistake Langley for being flat because it consists of mostly farmlands, which conveys an image of flat, barren lands. So most runners signing up for a Langley race are in for a surprise. Even me, I was fooled.
This one started at the Campbell Valley Trail speedway. It was an actual track which after researching, had hosted car-racing events back in the 60’s to the 80’s. The track still show crash marks from those events. Very interesting. Because the so-called speedway was simply a 400-metre running track, how on earth did those racing cars fit?
On the morning of the race, I got lost trying to get to the start, because where the speedway was located was quite hidden. After spotting a few red traffic cones nearby, I knew I was at the right location. It was a misty and chilly kind of morning. This race had a half, 10 & 5k.
About 25 or so people did the half. We took off from the speedway and onto this 1km forest trail. This part was quite technical as there were big tree branches literally fallen across the paths that I had to stop for and walk over them. I found this to be difficult, plus it was windy and the surface was extremely uneven. I must’ve fallen into last place with runners all passing me at this point. I had run in a real trail race a year ago in Washington State where I twisted and strained my ankle, so I have become very cautious ever since. I figured if the whole route was like that, I rather play it safe than risk an injury. On top of this, the path was super winding too. Naturally, I questioned why I signed up for this race?!
This trail is used amongst hikers, walkers, and horse-riders. As such, there were so many horse-gates that we had to leap over, which I also did not enjoy. And as the gates were pretty high in height, it seemed like I was running an obstacle-course with hurdles.
After getting out of the trail, it was an upward climb. We climbed up quite a bit in elevation before we came back down again. Some parts of the trail were really steep too. One runner, prior to the start of the race, advised me that with this course, we would be starting at the lowest point so the whole course meant there would be a lot of climbing to do. Oh, what a realization!
Every course has its own challenges, so you might not ever be 100% prepared, and there will always be elements which trip us up. But that is what makes racing fun – the unpredictable elements.
So with this one, I finally made it back in one piece. And with 200 metres to go, I was not sure whether to go clock-wise or counter-clockwise. Some runners went the other way. I suppose it worked out the same, but the race directors were screaming to some runners, “go the other way”. In big races, it might have made a difference. With a small race, it did not really matter.
One guy came in a turkey costume for fun. I chatted with him briefly at the end, and he said he was so over-heated wearing that thing. He almost couldn’t breathe. We all chuckled, poor guy!
No medals were given, but a few bananas were provided, and overall another race done. Took a few pictures and one was photo-bombed. Funny!
In hindsight, this race was tough because of the terrain and elevation, but definitely not one of the toughest I’ve run. Overall, a nice morning spent in the suburb of Langley.