With reinforcements came rain

And a deep distant thunder,

Which we met with disdain:

“We’re not made of sugar!”

Yes the clouds had rolled in,

But their one silver lining

Was that we missed Seymour’s hail;

The wrong place, the right timing.

For what did we find,

When we reached Seymour’s Grind?

Drifts of those pellets that infuriate minds.

 

New blood brought new synergy,

But the night slowly thwarted

And deflated the energy

Our new friends had afforded.

I myself now retreated,

Pulling deeper inside,

With an earbud inserted,

Adding beats to my strides.

Heads down, we pushed on,

Running towards dawn.

 

That faint purple glow,

Which soon silhouetted

Distant Mount Seymour,

Towards which we were headed.

The glow promised dawn,

And the night had been awful.

Weary warriors with focus on breakfast

Of coffee, bacon and waffles.

 

But with morning came complaints of a curious kind.

From our pacers no less, I couldn’t find

Explanation for Hannah and Al’ to be falling asleep;

They were 30km in!  The toll not yet steep.

My suspicions were raised:

“Was this all a troll?”

Statements of exhaustion with nefarious role?

But by their sallow complexions and the depth of their pouts,

I think they were truly about to pass out!

 

Around 11am, our wish was fulfilled:

Deep Cove smelled of bacon being grilled!

And Tasha was there just raring to join.

But first we must rest, eat and enjoy!

It was then that I made my second mistake:

Which discovered my first, for my socks I did take

Off before eating, to my great terror.

“I should have swapped socks long before here!”

I scolded myself for my rookie error.

Mottled whiteness and macerated.

A sight from which appetite evaporated.

At least until Christine had the waffles plated,

And I forgot all about feet and masticated!

 

“Hey, wanna run a 50k?” Says Erik quite chipper,

Feigning fresh as a daisy, as if right at the start.

Instead of reality, decidedly grimmer:

25 hours in, with wavering hearts.

“Every step we do now, we don’t do again.”

“The final lap, 50ish k to the end.”

“Every descent we run down,

We won’t later ascend.”

“It’s all in our rear-view-mirror,

And when we finally drag our butts to the end, 

We don’t have to ever again come near here.

 

Back on the trail with Tasha now leading.

New-to-her trails, yet still did she guide

Unfairly fresh legs found starkly contrasting

To my hovercraft shuffle-step stride.

Coiled compressed springs launched her strongly up stairs,

Only to look back and find we were not there.

She’d stop, we’d catch up, and then off she would streak.

Definitely an interesting pacing technique!

I could never catch her, as hard as I tried;

Until I saw my chance on her right-hand-side,

And suddenly sprinted on legs that were fried!

-Catching her off-guard, for a moment I’d passed!

But a moment was all that my glory would last.

 

At Cleveland Dam, third time’s the charm:

Greeted by chowder found pleasantly warm.

But more satisfying yet, before taking my spoon,

Bathroom facilities where I ‘created some room’.

Now my tummy felt great, and the food was a treat!

My only issue was my burning trench-foot feet.

But I began to notice an odd effect:

After stopping they’d hurt as one would expect,

But after running a while, the pain would fade;

Still there but muted, as though a choice was made,

To simply ignore it, or hear and discard it.

As though the rhythm of running

Itself was numbing, and preventing succumbing.

 

Leaving Cleveland, we got some bad news:

Our good buddy Hannah was singing the blues.

She’d decided to drop, and all kidding aside,

Hannah is tough as they come; she’d confide

That her head and her heart weren’t in it this time.

She had more important things on her mind.

It’s not like she didn’t complete it last year,

And her car was parked conveniently near.

Lessons were learned, and a new rule will bind:

‘No more parking her car anywhere but the finish line.’

 

As we were moving, at random intervals,

Tourette’s-like it came; some form of battle-call:

“Jorts!” would be heard, sometimes loud, sometimes soft,

And echoes by teammates would carry aloft.

A hiker might think it an unusual bear-call.

Yes a fondness for Jorts sure pervaded us all. 

But through all the fanfare, I felt second class

In my faux-Jorts, when Alan had the real deal on his ass.

 

I think the event-host Craig Moore was also a fan.

And how could one *not* enjoy Jorts on a man?

We crossed paths with Craig after many a mile,

In Hollyburn Chute, and he was wearing a smile.

Was it the Jorts?  It’s difficult to say.

Ironically the fourth time passing his name ‘today’.

(There’s a street called ‘Craigmohr.’

Yes the spelling’s astray, 

But let’s humour him please;

It seems to just make his day.)

 

Our final aid at Cypress, once more approaching night,

Featured lovely apple pie, our blankets wrapped quite tight.

And if it seems that my focus is on eating,

It’s because support crew was so key

To our success, and they were treating

Us with so many treats that they all can’t be included,

But to think that we would finish this without them is deluded.

And please consider the old ultrarunning adage,

That it’s less about your actual training mileage,

Quality, or quantity, when it comes to a race,

And more about the sheer quantity of food

That you can comfortably stuff down your face.

 

Despite blankets and tight turnover, while sitting we got chilled,

So Matthew led out fast, working hard as he up-hilled

Towards the peak of Black, up its slick snowy surface;

Jacking up the heart rate, stoking up the furnace.

Faintly foggy but single minded,

Our team stoically grinded

Up our last significant climb and

“Where are the other headlamps?”

“I count three.”

(How many beams of light should there be?)

There they glow, far below in the snow.

As it turns out, Mama had a low.

But not much further to go.

 

We took a moment on the summit, little said.

Fatigue was taking over, and the dread

Of the boulder-fields awaiting, sharp and slick;

We expected our descent would not be quick.

Another moment at the Bluffs, 

But upon taking his seat,

Erik announced that he must move or fall asleep.

So we took one last look at the city lights arrayed,

Then took a step, and another, like the blade

That slowly pares the pear, we sliced away, 

At the diminishing distance still before us; 

Descending through slabs, boulders,

And finally into forest.

 

But before barely getting started going down, 

A headlamp coming up:  “It’s Jason Brown!”

Another Van100 hopeful from our town,

And he looked about to lay down on the ground.

Mama’s instincts immediately took charge

And she loomed up like a Mama-bear at large,

“We’re taking you home, Jason!  You’re coming with us!”

Directing him back down the perilous precipice.

I said, “Hold on Mama, that doesn’t make sense!

I’d take a 3k ski-run cruise over a massive sketch descent.

He’ll be with his crew at Cypress long before we’re done.”

(This all was discussed with much confusion.

Our trusty thinking thingies just weren’t thinking at optimum.)

 

Fighting to hold focus, but starting to break down.

Sleep is a limiting factor, we definitely found.

Forcing concentration, for one misstep

Would be a SAR call in the making.

Weary legs are shaking 

As feet are planted carefully;

Testing, not trusting

A body that’s carried us this far.

Descending so much further than last time.

Forever descending; 

So technical, so treacherous.  

Just get it done.

 

“Alan and Tasha are still back there somewhere?”

“Should we wait?  Do we have to?”

A selfishness upon us: (Just get it done.)

The thought of stopping somehow feels terrible, unthinkable.

A terrible way to think, but survival instinct;

Fight or flight shit, everything screaming

For the finish line, so close.

Stopping lets the pain rush back to the surface;

Keep on moving, cocooned in sluggish numbing rhythms.

But we stop and wait nonetheless,

And they aren’t far behind.

 

The mind getting more creative, seeing things differently?

Not hallucinations, but the next best thing:

A leaning jagged stump looks like a giant Elk head,

With great protruding antlers.

And sure enough it does, even when examined,

But I would never have noticed,

If not in this state.

Half expecting to see underwear hanging from trees,

Like our strange nocturnal visitor on these very slopes

Had claimed, 24 hours prior.

Matthew takes a dump 500 meters from the end.

This time we didn’t wait.

Ten days removed and looking back,

I must say that I’m impressed

That those of us who formed The Pact

All passed this hundred miler’s test.

Impressed but not surprised, that is;

Our trio’s 11 month desire

Prepared us for the pain, the conditions and ‘the tired’.

I know that had I been alone, I’d most definitely drop,

But commitment to my friends precluded necessity to stop.

A force beside which, it would seem, that even ego pales;

For ego may have got me 2+ laps before the fail.

Yes, we completed our tall task,

A rare Triple Baden-Powell!

Without throwing in the towel,

To the finish line we clawed!

But I caution you, my friend,

Unless looking for a scowl,

Don’t you fucking dare to ask

To make a pact to do the Quad.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Van 160 “Race Report” Part 2

  1. You all did fantastic. Enjoyed reading about your experiences on this journey. Good job Ryan. You express your thoughts well.

    • Ryan Shephard says:

      Hi Chris, thank you so much for reading! I’m glad that you enjoyed it! An epic poem for an epic adventure, haha.

  2. Tabitha Mann says:

    Am incredible feat by all of you!!
    I loved reading through this with all of its quirky humour.
    I feel like I was there (defs not there ?) with your imagery!

    I know this isn’t 400 words, but it’s all I’ve got at 11pm ?

    Do a quad 😉
    Hehe

  3. Loved your tale…I kind of could feel the pain but also could not even imagine running 100 miles on the Baden Powell…good job Marina and your buddies.

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