The Legion already saw Josh Ferenc run quite the race at Loon, placing 15th in by far the most loaded field the LMR has every presented. But little did we know that the Wild Man took home a title at an international trail marathon a week earlier at the Ultra Trail du Mont Albert Sky Marathon. Now thatâ€™s On the Level! Hereâ€™s Joshâ€™s race report of what went on in the Gaspeâ€™ Peninsula Canadian National Park:
by Josh Ferenc (from his blog Wild Neoteny)
After a day of buzzing around the peninsula and reflecting, a decent nights sleep, I felt ready to take on the mental piece of the Sky Running Marathon. There was to be over 2000 meters of elevation gain on the out and back course. The elevation profile looked honest and runnable.
I had my Ultimate Direction pack ready with hydration (1 16oz hard UD bottle, 1 17 oz soft flask, 1 12 oz soft flask and 1 6 oz soft flask). I donâ€™t like the design of having the bottles on my chest, as I feel like it gives me breasticles, so I put then in the back (where the should cussing go!). I also loaded up on GUâ€™s (salted caramel) and one mint chocolate Clif Bar. I didnâ€™t eat a breakfast really (half a bagel and a blueberry Redbull), but felt full already before the race even started.
On the race line I could tell that the field was… Limited (77% of all entered would drop out).
The weather was hot, 93, and I opted to start the race with my jersey on. As soon as the race started though, I had to stop 3 min in to adjust my number then take the shirt off and tie it to my pack. I worried that I would chafe but never did over the whole course. My skin is just too awesome and gnarly.
The first 8k was a winding, very rooty, single track that was very gradual and runnable. My philosophy for this race going in was to run fast when I could, be smart when I should. This section allowed for running fast. At the end of this section the trail switched to some steeper climbs to above tree line and just under Mt Xalibu, this is where the footing would be horrendous. A lot of scree that looked wicked sharp and was even more loose then it looked when you stepped on it. The rocks were the size of shoe boxes and this made for tough footing and a lot of concentration.
At the point of Mt Xalibu I was just over an hour into the race and had only really been climbing for 25 min. The scree field would be much of the course above the tree line from here to the turn around.
After cresting Xalibu we go back down the other side to where the 8 mile marker was. The trail then would dip, dive, duck, dodge and dodge itself for 2 miles. Here there were a lot of wooden plank bridges and the start of a small snowfield to run across. That part was fun and exciting. Short loved but very cool. The next 3 miles was 2.5 miles of clinging in wicked loose and large scree rocks to the summit of Mt Jaques-Cartier. This is a beautiful mtn top with large stretches of highland meadows on top. Very cool. Upon getting to the top I began to really feel the heat. I had been 2 hours of running and was very welcoming of the tune around. The turn around however was down a small grade of baseball sized, razor shape, rocks. While at the top of Jaques-Cartier I could see the turn around and it looked like a shimmering mirage very very very far away. Thank my kind it only took 6 min to get too!
I was 2:14 at the turn around, where there was ice cold Pepsi. Slammed 6 oz of that, refilled all my bottles (as I was empty) and headed back. I didnâ€™t run into another runner until the exact top of Jaques-Cartier which meant I had a solid 12 min. Like one of my goals, I totally shut it down and played it safe down all the scree fields. They were too dangerous for me to try and pick too hard. I had a nice lead and with 8k if runnable trail, ainâ€™t no way I will be getting caught! The scree was about 45 min of the next hour, then it was smooth sailings the rest of the way.
I did have a couple close calls as I ran out of water very fast on the way back and was starting to overheat. The sun rises at 4 am here and it gets hot at 7-8 am. By 11 it was cooking hot and I still had an hour or more to go. Every stream I would stop and refill the hard bottle with very cold water and wash my mouth out and douse my head and neck with. I did this about 5 times the last hour of running which was crucial. Had I not I could have been in trouble. (Side note: on the way out I beat very aid station to being ready, so, that sucked in part of getting fluids but cool I was faster than they expected).
I ran the last 8k very honest and was able to win a marathon, a trail race and a Sky Running Marathon in 4:26!
I came to this race to punch my Sky Running ticket for the future and was able to procure a ticket to Europe next year! Very excited to get the A goal. Â Hopefully I can rest and recover a little and give the USA Mtn Running Championships a shot at Loon Mt next week. I truly think I can fight (or fought) for a top 6 spot if ready and rested. This race wasnâ€™t the best for that cause the week before, but Iâ€™ll have no excuses and give everything I have in the tank on race day! Bc when the race starts, ainâ€™t nobody going to give a cuss about what I did a week before, itâ€™s all about the day of the race!!! The playing fields are fair and Iâ€™m ready to fight…Â Cuss yea!!!
Be sure to check out Joshâ€™s race report from Loon as well!