Smoke doesn’t stop the Black Spur Ultra

The Black Spur Ultra Marathon went ahead in Kimberley over the weekend despite smoky skies.

“The smoke was brutal, even the race crew felt the effects of it,” said Kelsey Cox from Sinister Sports. “I can’t imagine how bad the runners felt. There were a lot of jokes made about everyone having a smoker’s cough now. I heard that someone burped and a puff of smoke came out, hahaha. We had a lot of DNF’s because of the smoke as well, so anyone who finished did a really great job of overcoming conditions that you can’t train for. Ultra running requires some stubbornness, and that was very apparent this year.”

53 competitors completed the full 108 K course and 87 finished the 54 K.

108 K men

Joren Titus, Calgary; 11:52

Scott Cooper, Calgary 12:40

Alexander Glenn, St. Isidore 13:21

Ryan Lakhram, Calgary 13:47

LIam Walke, Ottawa, 13:52

54K men

James Dalke, Ponoka, 5:20

Joedy Dalke, Ferintosh, 5:50

Andrew Lester, Calgary, 5:57

Benjamin Harper-Heir, Calgary 5:59

Jason Nicolai, 6:00

108 K Women

Emilie Mann, Fernie; 14:03

Mandi Goudie, Kimberley; 15:31

Jessica Laird, Edmonton; 15:45

Isobel Ross, Calgary; 16?07

Dennesha Ferguson, Hay River; 18:43

54 K Women

Abi Moore, Fernie: 6:11

Rhonda Backman-Loo, Lake Newell Resort; 6:43

Linzee Knowles, Red Deer; 7:00

Rebecca Heemeryck, Rocky Mountain House; 7:21

Tania Jacobs, Edmonton; 7:26

Runner Joshua Slykhuis, aka Canadian Ghostrunner, contributed another great blog this year, describing the brutal conditions and running in the smoke. Slykhuis did not the finish the 108K, the smoke doing him in at 72 kilometres.

“My legs felt fine, and the climb was quick, but when I would really start running, I’d get out of breath quickly, and then feel ‘go to bed’ tired. The run down the hill was not super fun this time, and my legs responded sluggishly. I found and marked every root, branch, and sticking up piece of shale with pieces of my flesh, as I fell numerous times. I was fairly light headed as I finished leg 3, and my mind was definitely not right (it never really is!),” he writes.

“The smoke was really messing me up at this point. I didn’t want to quit, as I was still having fun (fun, a relative term on these races). I only had 54km to go, and had only been out around 7 hours for the first 3 legs. So I did what any (in)sane person would do. I waited for my heart rate to regulate, my breathing to not hurt so much, took some pain pills, and carried on.

I ran the first half of leg 4 at a decent pace. I felt worse than I can ever remember feeling, but I wasn’t going to stop. I made it to the aid station, and noticed that swallowing was hurting, a lot. I’d been coughing for the first half of the leg pretty consistently, but I’m a phlegmy beast of a man, so sometimes I cough when I run. I was fine I told myself.

As I was sitting in my chair at the TA, I knew I have 14 hours to do the last 36km. The math to justify was going. I had a two week break between this race and my next 100 miler, lots of recovery time. At this point I knew I had to pull the pin. Throat and nose were on fire, and coughing felt like razors. Probably the only sane decision I’ve made this season. The smoke hadn’t bothered me much the last few weeks as I’d trained, but this day, it had my number.

You can read the whole blog here

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