Knee Knackering Experience

After a few days to sit back and soak it all in, I can happily say the 20th Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run (KKNSTR) was everything I dreamed it would be. Thanks to the countless hours put in by the organising committee and amazing bunch of volunteers, the day went off without a hitch. There was support all along the trail and well stocked aid stations, with a variety of gourmet delights (can’t beat boiled potatoes rolled in salt). We were in for a great day, with beautiful weather and of course the spectacular setting of Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains.

So without further ado, here is a detailed account of my Knee Knackering experience…

After a restless night of little sleep and analytically breaking down each section of the course, the day kicked off in the wee hours of Saturday morning. I hitched a ride with Mike and John to Horseshoe Bay and after plenty of nervous banter, we were on the start line ready to tackle the 20th KKNSTR.

My game plan had always been to start out easy and slowly build up throughout the race and I was determined to stick to this. I hooked up with my training buddy, Jonathan, and started the slow but steady climb up Black Mountain. The pace was perfect and I still had the time and energy to take in the spectacular views and chat about rugby union… trying not to think too much about the All Blacks’ loss to the South Africans :(.

The first minor aid station was right up the top of Black Mountain and notorious for mosquitoes. Dedicated volunteers were decked out in full beekeeping suits, so they could still remain sane while looking after the runners, a job they did well. I made a comment to Jonathan as we came to the station that the mosquitoes weren’t that bad, but after stopping for less than 5 seconds, what did I know (not much)!

We then started the descent down into the first major aid station at the Cypress Ski Field carpark. This is a fun section of steep scree trails with lots of switchbacks. Not being able to resist, I took off. I got to the first checkpoint in 1hr 52, in 67th place – nothing earth shattering, but happy at where I was. A quick hi to Tanya and Pricey (my trusty support team), a switch of bladders for my Camel pack and I was on my way to Cleveland Dam.

With over 7 miles of downhill in the stretch to Cleveland Dam, I felt it was time to up the ante. I knew the majority of this section well from my Wednesday and Sunday training runs, so felt confident I could pick up some places and make good time.

I ran into Cleveland Dam (halfway point) in 3hr 12 minutes – 55th place, so had managed to gain 12 places – so far so good! Another bladder change, a bite to eat and I was on my way up Nancy Green Way to the Grouse Mountain carpark.

This next leg from Cleveland Dam (Capilano River) to Lynn Valley is renowned as being one of the toughest on the course, both mentally and physically. You come off a long stretch of downhill from Cypress, where the quads have copped a pounding, only to then start a long climb up Grouse, with some technical sections thrown in for good measure. I ran/walked up the road to the Grouse Mountain carpark, took traffic control in my own hands, fought my way through the hoards of people heading up the Grouse Grind and was finally back on the quiet Baden Powell Trail.

All was going well, then I started to feel the calves tightening and the odd twinge of cramp (not a good sign!!). I caught up with John A (it would never have happened in a road race!), had a quick chat which lifted my spirits, and kept on putting one foot in front of the other. The next hour or so was the toughest part of the race for me. I kept telling myself I would get through it and knowing I was not the only competitor struggling kind of helped. I hooked up with another training buddy, Derek, and ran the last few ks with him into the third and last major checkpoint, arriving in 4hr 50, in 47th place. Along with giving me some salt tablets (which were a saviour), Derek really helped me pull out of a trough, so by the time I saw Tanya and Pricey again, I was able to smile and was ready to  tackle the fourth and final leg.

Having run this last leg many times, I knew what was in store and was confident I could go well. After leaving the final major checkpoint, I was able to really lift the tempo and felt surprisingly good for this far into the race. There was one more decent climb up the Seymour Grind and I knew once I was at the top of that, it was literally all downhill into Deep Cove. I passed a few more training colleagues along the way and hit the top of the Grind in 35th place – with 35 minutes left to break 6hr 30. I knew it was possible and being my favourite section of the course, I was going to leave nothing to chance. I don’t know where it came from, but I was able to fly down the trail. I had a couple of intense emotional moments, knowing that I was running the race of my life and all the training was paying off. After bit of self-imposed pep talk to pull myself together, only the final 2km of some up and down trail lay between me and the finish line. That last section was a bit of a blur, but I finished hard and crossed the line in 6hr 24, in 32nd place, well beyond my expectations. Of the 190 runners, I ran the 10th quickest last leg, something I am very proud of.

To have Tanya at the finish line was so important to me and I could see that she was proud of what I had achieved. My heartfelt thanks to her for putting up with all my trail talk and periods of exhaustion and bad moods. Also a big shout-out to Pricey, for giving up much of his Saturday to come and support me and make sure Tanya got to the checkpoints & finish line on time! The photos you see here were all taken by him and he has kindly supplied me with many others (Knee Knacker 2008 – Race Day Photos).

Finally, to be surrounded by my fellow runners and friends made for an electric atmosphere, especially with so many PBs being broken. All in all a day I will never forget!


6 Responses

  1. we read with enjoyment and I cried when you got to the finish! 🙂

    congrats again!

    -raky & chris

  2. Thanks guys, it was an amazing experince and glad you could come along for the ride. I have now signed up for a 50 mile trail race on August 9th, so I am sure there will be more stories to tell. Great to hear from you.

  3. Wow Campbell, what an amazing experience. Very inspiring. What a great idea to have documented it all too. Well done and keep up the good work. I may even get inspired to use by treadmill which is growing dusty in the garage 🙂

  4. Oh Campbell Well done!!!
    What a great read. I felt like I was running with you.. Ha fat chance of that ever happening.
    You are a legend. Just like Helen commented on you being an inspiration, you are.
    Good luck with everything else and looking forward to your New York Marathon

  5. Thanks Kylie and Helen, means a lot to me to hear such postive feedback from good friends. I look forward to sharing more adventures in the future with you.

  6. […] 26, 2008 · Filed Under Race Reports  · Pic from justrunning · Quoting: …With over 7 miles of downhill in the stretch to Cleveland Dam, I felt it was […]

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