Monday, August 1, 2016

Winning Isn't Everything...But It Sure Is Fun!

The awards ceremony for the Canadian Death Race caps off the race festivities with a Monday morning breakfast, but the Death Fest Sunday night party may be the real culmination of the week-end for some. We didn't make it to Death Fest last night - I was in no shape to drink, dance, or party - but we went to sleep listening to the rock music blasting a few blocks away. In the wee hours of the morning, we were once again pulled into the Death Fest atmosphere as we listened to some poor soul retching and vomiting outside. Ugh! To each his own. That was somebody's way to celebrate the event; mine was this morning's awards ceremony.

Mindy and I arrived at the Grande Cache arena for the last time this week-end, stiff-legged and limping.  We hardly looked like people who had run fast...or, at least reasonably fast...36 hours before. First stop was the results list.  We knew our placing, but this was the first we got to see how the rest of the field compared. 

The conditions atop Mount Hamel turned ugly on Saturday evening, with hail, lightning, and bitter cold winds. The completion rate this year for the 125km was low even by Death Race standards. The hospitalization rate, unfortunately, was on the high side.

Next, we moved on to the photography table. Beautiful shots of the race with stunning landscapes....and progressively more tired and worn out looking people. We bought them all - all of us, that is. This is most certainly a week-end worth commemorating. Photoscapes by Margaret, Inc. also had a treat in store for us with a couple of candid shots of the finish line proposal. Margaret gave us those as an engagement gift (but only in hard copy, so I can't add them here).

The Canadian Death Race video, played for the arena, captured a taste of every runner's struggles.  It was startling to see some of the conditions we had run through. It was also touching to see the first few moments of our time as fiance/e captured on video! (Check back at if you want to see the video.  It is not posted yet...) The supportive and generous crowd of ultra runners around us gave resounding applause; I suppose for many of them this was the first they would have seen the culmination of Mindy's and my races. I hope they got a kick out of it, as Mindy and I were completely thrilled by the display! 

Finally, recognition of the winners. Ladies first!

Prior to calling up the 125km race winners, the announcer asked that all those who had completed the Death Race in previous years line up in front of the stage. As winners were announced and presented with their trophies, they were then invited to shake hands with their Death Race brethren and join the exclusive club of finishers. I have so much respect for anyone who can complete this event. I gladly shook hands with each person there.  Many of them kindly offered kudos for my win - and more importantly for my engagement.

Grande Cache - the town, the race, and the engagement - have been an incredible experience.  The expression is "I wouldn't trade that for the world", but given that I can't walk properly right now, that would be hyperbole.  I can say that I would think long and hard before trading this week-end for anything. Now that the week-end is complete, though, it was time to move on.

Shortly after we entered Jasper National Park, we took a winding road off the main highway to Miette Hot Springs.

The first thing we saw in the Miette parking lot?

(Psst! Buddy, if you hang out right beside the car, they will know you caused the damage!)

The hot springs, themselves, afforded incredible views of the surrounding mountains. The healing waters seemed to have a positive effect on my Death Race legs, as after a good soak, I was almost able to walk down stairs. (Small victories.)

As we returned to the car, we bid farewell to the Miette Hot Springs and the long-horn sheep.

Back on the highway, we made a quick detour into the actual town of Jasper - quaint and small.  Then we headed south toward the Ice Fields Parkway.  Between stops for stunning scenery along the way, we began to talk about our wedding - where, when, and what we might want to do. A little unreal, yet very exciting.

Athabasca Falls:

Sunwapta Falls:

A black bear:

I did use a bit of telephoto, but it kept on walking toward us.  It got to within 10 feet of the car.  A little unnerving!

As light was failing, we made it to the Columbia Ice Field.  A massive (though shrinking) store of ice dating back to the last ice age!

As dusk turned to night, Mindy and I were on hyper alert for wildlife at the side of the road. Surprisingly, given what I've read of the area, we didn't see any. Although it would have been a thrill to see an elk or a grizzly, I was happy enough that we avoided the dangers of night driving through Banff. It was dark and late when we got to The Crossing, our accommodations for the night. After three nights on a tolerable double bed in Grande Cache, this California King sized, pillow-top bed with extra pillows was complete luxury for our aching, tired bodies.

Good night!

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