On Saturday, I ran the Stewart Mountain Ten Mile Cross Country Challenge on Vancouver Island at Thetis Lake Provincial Park. The Office decided to have its Christmas Party in Victoria this year. I had ideas of running the Juan De Fuca Trail, but then learned of this wonderful race, with its convenient 12 PM start time.
Stewart Mountain was a blast, largely because the course was flooded by recent rains, creating several knee-deep water crossings. Some of the splash zones went on for 10 or 20 meters. The feet were going to get wet, no matter what you did, and by the end of the race, I was running/wading right through the middle of each pool. It was a real crack-up.
The course is fast--relatively flat most of the time, with many short ups and downs. Almost all trail, mostly wide single track. There’s a sustained climb midway, up Stewart Mountain presumably, through moss covered rocks, with long views from the top, though they were limited by clouds on Saturday. After that, it’s a lot of slippery down, and then back through the water holes. The course finishes around beautiful Thetis Lake, with three small hills, as you look out at an island in the middle of the lake, and hear and see the finish line across the way.
I ran the first half kind of slow, warming up and taking pictures, and then picked things up a bit in the second half. I probably could’ve pushed harder and gotten a bit better overall time, as well as a tougher workout, but I didn't want to rush through the park too much. This was only my second time on the Island, and I get distracted by stuff. The trails struck me as similar to those out in Anacortes. I think the course would make a great 50k, just by extending it two more laps. But it's a great long-speed workout as is.
The volunteers were terrific and out in force—marshals all over the course. And special thanks to the RD Bob, who was kind enough to save me one of the limited tech shirts. There are lots of fast people on the Island—I understand a lot of triathletes call Victoria home. The local running club, the Prairie Inn Harriers, puts the race on, as the third and longest race of their end of the year cross-country series.
Afterwards, it was off to wander Victoria. The Parliament Building is lighted up. Pineapple Express type rains kind of detracted from the visit, but I was able to get the lay of the land, and have a nice dinner. Stayed the night, and returned by the Sydney-Anacortes ferry, which is an absolutely gorgeous tour of the islands. I liked Sydney. And I liked clearing immigration in Skagit County, rather than waiting forever at Blaine.
"Louisiana Woman Mississippi Man" with Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty on the radio. Love the Sunday Night Classic Country show. Getting ready for the week to come.