Volunteering at Five Peaks – Alice Lake

One of my goals for this year was to volunteer at more races.

I think I said I would try to volunteer at one race per month, but I definitely missed the first three months of the year. But better late than never – and I’m officially 1/1 for April (and 1/4 for 2017).

Last weekend, the first race in the 5 Peaks BC series took place just down the road from us, at Alice Lake. When I was planning my own race schedule, I seriously considered signing up for this race – I was torn between it and the Loop the Lakes race that takes place in May, also around Alice Lake. When I found out that a couple of friends were signing up for Loop the Lakes, I made the executive decision to go with that one. Thank GOODNESS, because there is NO WAY I would have been able to run even the sport distance with my current ankle drama. More on that later.

Cedric agreed to volunteer with me, and I’m glad he did because otherwise, it would have been a little lonely. We were course marshals, stationed at an intersection where the enduro racers would pop out after completing a bonus loop, and which the sport racers were to bypass entirely. Complicated stuff – but we were there to keep things under control.

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PUPPY

After we checked in, we took a shortcut trail and walked about 2 kilometers to our designated zone. We were plenty early, so we decided to walk the loop that the enduro racers would get to run. It was a really cool loop with some fancy looking bike features and plenty of rubber chickens pegged to trees. I later learned that these chickens are indicators of intense bike features ahead – and if you’re a chicken (get it?), you might want to go around it. This is probably common knowledge for biker types, but I found it novel.

The morning had been rainy and the forecast looked like it could swing either way. But by the time we made it back to our station, the rain had stopped and you could almost see the sun trying to burn its way through the grey sky.

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Arrows! Flags! Signage!

Shortly after, the first few runners appeared. After that, they trickled through somewhat steadily – sometimes one by one, other times in small clusters. We cheered and pointed everyone in the right direction, and nobody got lost on our watch. Woohoo!

When the sweeping crew dismissed us, we walked back towards the finish, picked up the race swag (sweet running mittens – perks of being a volly!), then decided to enjoy the weather and walk the trails back home.

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We made this cool stump chair but it was hard to capture in photographic form, I guess.

It feels lame to say this, but this was the most mileage I’d covered on foot since I hurt my ankle. When I got home, it felt sore. I felt like I regressed in my physio exercises, and a new knee pain had emerged (I’m not even sure if this is related to the ankle, but I’m guessing it’s all connected).

So frustrating. I hadn’t run at all – I’d only walked what, 12 or 13 k in total? I’ll admit to thinking: “How the HECK am I supposed to RUN 21 k in just four weeks if I can’t even walk half that without hurting?”

Eventually, I came back down to earth. I’ve made so much progress in the past four weeks, and I’m sure I’ll continue to make big strides in the four to come. It’s certainly not optimal, but there’s hope yet that it’ll all work out.

Today (two days after 5 Peaks), I ran 7.25 km on the road doing 5 minutes running followed by 1 minute walking. It wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t a breeze either. One day at a time – that’s what I keep telling myself.

A perk of volunteering is that in return for your time, you get free entry for another 5 Peaks race. I think I will use it to run next year’s event at Alice Lake. Even Cedric – who typically prefers to tackle the trails by mountain bike, not by running shoe – said he’d like to give it a go next year.

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