We had a great time down in Crowsnest Pass this last weekend. We were thinking we could perhaps be top 5, or even top 3 if all went well. Well guess what – completely unexpected, we managed to win the Sinister 7 relay! How did that happen? Read on.
First of all, what the heck is Sinister 7? Let me explain. Sinister 7 is a 146 kilometer ultra marathon race. The course takes the runners through the most rugged and beautiful terrain in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Because the course has over 5,050m of elevation gain across the course, this race is hard, if you haven’t prepared. Racers have 27 hours to complete the course, and the relay is split in to 7 stages.
Our Cool Running, finished first of the teams, and it was a complete surprise to everyone. After the first stage, we were among the slower half of the teams. After stage 2, I think we moved up a bit, but we were still way off the top 5. I am guessing we were somewhere around 70th place after the first 2 stages.
Next, our marathon star Brendan ran the 33 km long stage 3, and when he handed over to me, we were in 5th spot. Yeah, Brendan can sure move! However, we were still 1:30 behind the leaders, and there was another team way ahead of us as well. Needless to say, we were not expecting to catch the top 2 teams this day, but perhaps 3rd place could be a possibility, since 3 and 4 started just a few minutes ahead of me.
On stage 4, I started chasing the two runners ahead of me, and it didn’t take that long until I went by them. I probably went a bit too had in the beginning. My quads were burning…
At the first water station, they said I was the first runner to come by. I was thinking, hmm, you must have just started your shift buddy, since I knew the two top teams went by here an hour and a half ago or so. There’s no way I could be first. I kept plugging away best I could – I knew there was a lot of work ahead of me.
This was a long, hot and hard stage to run – 32 km in mountainous terrain. I struggled a bit at the end, and my feet were hurting pretty bad from running over the hard rocks. When I finally saw the end of my stage, I was very happy to have it over with.
As I passed the timing stick to the next runner, they announced me as the first runner to come in. What? It turned out that both the top 2 teams took the wrong turn at the first water station, and ended up running half of leg 3! Uffda! That meant a 50+ km run for them, and several hours added. This meant we were now in first place, with a 36 minute lead over the next team.
We were all of course a bit nervous during the next 3 stages, but our last runner came into the finish in Blairmore with a comfortable lead, and we ended up WINNING the Sinister 7 by a margin of 20 minutes or so. It was so surprising, and it shows that when it comes to relay events, anything can happen.
We received gift certificates and the team earned a $1,000 check for placing 1st. A good weekend! We will be back again next year.