Broken River King of the Mountain

“You guys are so underground, you’re what bouldering wishes it was”  I had to agree with StevieE, the sport of ski mountaineering racing is extremely underground in NZ. After a short existence between 2006- 2009 when I was organising a series of races the only event has been a super low key race in QT, part of the Winter Festival, that is a short skin up Coronet Peak. For some reason this race is more or less not at all promoted and I have even been told it is “really just a race for locals”?? So yes, the sport is underground, but to my delight a day or 2 before I took off to Canada I got an e-mail from Barrett at Broken River Ski Area telling me there was going to be a race and could I spread the word- could I ever! Well I tried to anyways.

Barrett explains the course- the boot pack up Margo’s is directly above his head

Race day dawned sunny and calm which helped make up for the less than desirable snow conditions. I was thinking and with no disrespect to anyone, that I would have a fun little skin around and win the “race” (I was looking at it as more of a social occasion) pretty easy- then right before the brief a guy in a one piece suit turns up- great, I was going to have to try now. Barrett counted down and we all took off- well Chillis and the guy in the one piece lycra did. I chased and took over the lead as we started the climb up the main basin and with no skin track- it was way too firm for that- we tacked like a yacht race up to the bottom of Margo’s to the boot pack. I arrived just in front and lead up and chatted with the lycra clad man. “I have heard of you”– that is never good, “Chris, Chris Forne”. I replied saying we are even cause I had heard of Chris, he is after all a pretty big deal in adventure racing and orienteering circles, like a really big deal. This had me worried as we booted up cause I knew I was not gonna drop Chris, he is way too strong and I was already feeling like I needed to puke. Into the transition and out in less than a minute, Chris however, could not say the same, fumbling with boots, bindings and skins. Even with having to stop on the ski down due to a lack of flagging I built a good 90sec+ buffer. I held this on the short next climb and skied back to Palmer Lodge. A packed deck of people waiting for the snow to soften, aided by a lack of any finish line timer, had no idea I was winning the race as I crossed the line. Knowing this I decided it would be funny (at least to me) to pump my fists in the air and yell. This was of course was greeted with many a strange look until a lady asked if I had just won the race and then people clapped- Yes, we are underground.

the usual suspects post race


Chris was about 2mins back and Tim Ensor had a blinder rounding out the podium. Huge thanks to Barrett and the Broken River crew for hosting this great little race. I really hope this event is back next winter and we can get a few more folks turning out.

Here is my “Move”from the race- it was just a wee fella

My Owsome CDR Trip

My Owsome CDR Trip

Marcelo, myself, Julia and Jeremy pre CDR. Photo PV

“Go Death Racer…”– Jeremy randomly yelled as we dodged mud puddles early in the race. To our amusement an unseen runner behind us responded with great enthusiasm – “GO DEATH RACER!”. It wasn’t until about 13hrs later, when I hit 104th St in Grande Cache, that I smiled like that again when hearing those words…. During those 13hrs I experienced the highs and lows that one would expect during an ultra, but unfortunately for me I was experiencing then in what felt like a sauna. Jeremy and I run 2nd and 3rd together into the 19km check point a few mins down on last years runner-up Ricky Reusser. I was feeling good and quickly (and unexpectedly) pulled away from Jeremy early into the 2nd leg. I run most of the climb to Flood and Grand mountain, unlike last year when I walk most of these climbs, and arrived back into Grande Cache in 4hr30, about 4mins down on Ricky. These 1st 2 legs of the race I run pretty easy and felt great apart from my toes that got mashed from the steep descents. During the next stage I stopped at every one of the small creeks to throw water over my self, wet my hat and fill a bottle that I used to pour over my self. I was surprised to catch a glimpse of Ricky ahead and despite to a few more times at streams I was catching him with ease.We walked a hill together and Ricky told me his quads where trashed from the descent from Grand. As we crest the hill I started running and made a gap – it was strange I was leading that race, something I haven’t done in a long time. About 55km into a 125km race I was leading. I let that sink in and at the same time told my self it didn’t matter to how I wanted to run the rest of the race. I made sure to make a good break on Ricky as I was expecting him to come back and he did pass me as I was running up the highway – he was in a car having pulled the pin on the race. Hmm, that changed things, but Jeremy was still behind me and he had put 1hr on me in 50km at the HK100 in February so I knew I still had a race on my hands. I got into the 65km check point well up on my time from last year and feeling OK, but I was starting to get very hot. The climb up Hamel was pretty slow going, slower than I run it last year, but not as slow as Jeremy (unknown to me at the time) and I put some more time on him. At 88km there is a 5km loop which I did in about 30mins + the time I spend fueling at the aid station I knew I had at least 35mins on 2nd, now with not much more than 30km to go. I was starting to get excited that I might just have this thing. But it wasn’t smooth sailing as my toes where really hurting and the heat was crushing me. Coming from winter and training in freezing temps on snow-covered trails to 27+ degree temps with a warm wind was hard going, even having dumped about 8L of water of myself during the day.

Leaving CP5 and on my way to “getting er done”. Photo- PV

At the final check point I was greeted by Phil and Marcelo who had been taking great care of me all day – Phil was always sure to hurry me out and not let me hang out. I changed in to my SpeedCross3, had some coke and left with multi caffeinated gels and red bull. I was well up on my time from last year at this point, and was excited about what is the best bit of single track in the whole race from CP5 to the river. Last year I closed well but this year I knew I was going to just be trying to hang on, still not 100% how far back Jeremy was. I was surprised to get to the river more or less the same as last year, despite a large amount of walking. The short jet boat ride was fun and I could have just stayed sitting on that boat knowing the steep climb that lay a head – the final stretch home was a bit of a blow out. I was greeted by Ricky Reusser who had hiked in a wee way to see me finishing, I felt like crying when he said 5km to go, but a few minutes later I popped out on a dirt road where 3x CDR winner Jack Cook was hanging out. Jack told me 2.5km togo and offered me “beer or coke”- I went with the coke and hooked into the final km’s. I popped out onto 104th St where every other house had people sitting outside, bbqing, partying and yelling “Go

Satisfied to say the least! Photo- PV

Death Race”- Thats when I really smiled again. I crossed in 13hr27, about 20mins faster than last year. I had hopped to go faster, but very happy with that time on what I found to be a very hot day. I felt really beat down from the heat in the 2nd half of the race even after dunking my head in every creek on that course.

This trip to Canada has been pretty special. Its been a real fun time getting to hang out with fellow Salomon team mates Jeremy and Julia, as well as our owsome guide and Salomon brand ambassador Phil.We have had a bunch of laughs and taking 3 podium spots made for a succesful weekend for Salomon Running. Jeremy had a hard day of it, but hang in and finished 2nd, while Julia lead the womans race from start to finish!

“Thanks you’s”- Have to give a huge thank you to Phil, Julia and Jeremy for a great trip, as well as Salomon Running for the huge support in getting me here and also Suunto Australia and Udo’s Oil. Thank you so much for the support! And Jane for putting up with and being so supportive of my training and running.

A little relaxing and time with my 2 lovely girls awaits and maybe even a little ski mountaineering race at Broken River in 1 week. Then next running race is Yurrebilla Trail Ultra, a 56km race in the hills behind Adelaide in South Australia in about 5 weeks time. This looks to be a  great little race on some sweet trails – I can’t wait!


Laying Low In Canmore

After the long, but thankful smooth, trip to Calgary I was greeted by Phil at the airport and when then headed to Canmore, along with Julia who has travelled from Germany (Jeremy travelling from Hong Kong was delayed). After visiting a few coffee spots with Julia I visited a dentist to get a x-ray on  a tooth that started giving me grief the day before I left home and are now taking some anti-bioethics. Less than idea, but better than a tooth infection I guess. Jeremy arrived and Phil gave us a guided run on some sweet single track. We have been filtering through the massage therapist and more or less repeated our first day here again- coffee hang outs and easy runs.

We are taking off today on the long, but extremely scenic drive to Grande Cache, which will be transformed into one big ultra-running/festival town by the time we arrive. Race day temps could be around 25degress- not bad if you have spent the summer in those temps, but less than ideal if you have had the last few months in freezing temps like I have.

I have been posting photo’s here and Phil will be doing race updates on Twitter @S_FlightCrew and @SalomonRunning and likely Facebook also. You can check out the race web site here Canadian Death Race