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Monday, November 9, 2009

Mantario trail (aka test #2)

Mario at about the 10 hour mark of our South to North run of the Mantario trail on Nov 7th. 

When we dropped off our bikes at the north trailhead at 10 pm and studied the trailhead sign I was feeling a bit smug.  It noted that the trail was "very challenging" and would require most experienced hikers nearly 26 hours to complete, necessitating an average pace of 2.5 km per hour.  They must be catering to some pretty out of shape folk, i thought - i could walk backwards faster than that.....

the trail was about 63+ km long.  we took a wrong turn for 1.5 km that required backtracking and made one other unintentional side-trip, finding ourselves at an oddly familiar sign after another 1.5 km or so, for a total distance of about 68 k (nearly 42 miles).    Since it took us 14 hours to complete the journey, that put our pace at just less than double my backwards speed.  i no longer feel smug.

The trail was brutal.  We ran at a good clip whenever we could. i figure we were probably actually 'running' about 60% of the total distance, give or take.  sometimes we'd run for several km at a time, but more often that not we'd encounter a beaver dam, swampy section, un-runnable climb or descent, or just get lost several times for every km covered.  

Mario was a champ - he physically pushed me enough so that i'd welcome the forced 'breaks' - or 'pace killers' as we called them.  As it began to get dark he became single minded in his determination to log as much distance before headlamps were necessary and drove me relentlessly on - running over the granite tops of the hills and through the forests that were untouched by the fading rays of sunset.  

We ran only very occasionally after this - the flat white LED white and difficult trail combined to demand focused attention to the ground immediately before the feet so that spotting the trail markers at the same time was all but impossible.  after getting lost several times we decided we'd be faster walking at a quick clip and focusing on our route.
All in all it was an amazing experience with a great partner and another bit of personal validation that my training is effective.  Now its time to go take a nap.

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