G-G-G-Gunner!

Saturday morning, a group of Lions Gate Road Runners who accepted the Gunner Shaw cross-club invitation from the Prairie Inn Harriers set out for Victoria. The weatherman’s forecast during the week leading up to the event threatened typical cold and wet conditions, seeing as last year’s runners were dusted with snowfall, but luck or no luck (depending on how you viewed it), we were given sunny and dry conditions.

The Gunner Shaw in Victoria has been toted as one of the toughest cross-country races in Canada so what better way to break in this cross-country virgin than with a race with such a reputation!

So the following Lions Gaters accepted the challenge alongside me – Frank Stebner, Jim Swadling, Rae Gordon, Mark Williams, Michael Campbell-Burns, Greg Welwood (NEW member!), Robert Haines, Paul Newton (another x-country virgin!), Christine Blanchette, and Mark Sherman (?new member?). Members from the Island – Stephanie Keane and Larry McMahon – came out to represent LGRR. Our travelling cheerleader Carlos Gaspar also made the trek over on his bike to witness LGRR’s feat.

Bob Reid from the Prairie Inn Harriers made a few announcements before the start of the race and announced that a group of Lions Gate Road Runners made our way over from the mainland to run the race, giving special mention of Jim Swadling, who still holds the M50+ record on the course!

So, with a countown from 5, the race began! Up hills, down hills, under and over .. we ran our hearts out .. and our legs into the ground.

Wikipedia describes Cross Country Running as a sport in which teams of runners compete to complete a course over open or rough terrain faster than other teams. The courses used at these events may include grass, mud, woodlands, and water.

So let’s take a look at the last element described – water. Fine, I had been forewarned of some foul-smelling swamp pit that we had to run through and thank goodness i was warned but that was just ridiculous, no? Comical, in hind sight, as you can picture runners of all shapes and sizes trudging through water of up to 2 feet with varying expressions on their face as the methane gas is released from around you and surrounds your very being until you escape at the other end. Lucky for the tall guys where the water only hit up to about their knee … bummer for the rest of us vertically-challenged beings who were trapped in mid-thigh height water.

But I digress … back to the event. So hippity hop out of the “puddle”, and onward. Ever wonder what it feels like to run on stumps? Well, here’s your chance! Feet and calves frozen from being submersed in bone-chilling water and remembering that you’re still in a race .. so upward and onward, under and over .. hills upon hills upon hills … up and over roots, around trees .. the trail seemed endless. But alas, what was that I hear and see? Some sun peeking through the trees and crowds cheering .. i’m almost done!! Near delirious and physically spent, i run down the last bit of the trail and i see the beach! And then I see the finish line! Oh .. and then I see the last 100m … you’re routed out of the trail onto the beach and onto the dock (yes, I said dock) .. and into the lake you go! Yuppers, another 2 feet of water to wade through to the finish line.

I can only sit back and laugh at how ridiculous it was .. in a good way. This definitely opened my eyes to the world of cross-country running and although i had many fleeting moments of quitting running the race, quitting running altogether, laying down to take a nap, crying, jumping on the back of the guy in front of me (which would have been terrible because at that time, it was a 10 year old boy in front of me and i’m sure he would not have appreciated it) .. so although i had many thoughts pass through my head, i can’t wait to go back.

I’m not converting from a road runner to a x-country runner but am definitely looking forward to next year’s season!

As far as the results are concerned, Jim Swadling SMASHED the M60+ record – by how many, i don’t know but that’s what Bob Reid’s report read. Rae Gordon and Christine Blanchette also came in 5th in their respective age groups.

Mark Sherman – 33:57
Jim Swadling – 36:15
Greg Welwood – 38:19
Mark Williams – 39:46
Rae Gordon – 39:54
Michael Campbell-Burns – 42:23
Paul Newton – 42:27
Robert Haines – 42:53
Christine Blanchette – 43:27
Larry McMahon – 44:22
Stephanie Keane – 45:21
Linda Wong – 47:05
Frank Stebner – 54:29

As mentioned earlier, LGRR accepted a cross-club invitation to run the Victoria Gunner Shaw and PIH will be sending a group to the Vancouver Gunner Shaw. Although our event is smaller, let’s get out there and show them who the LGRR’s are and what kind of event we can put on. So if you can volunteer for the event on Saturday, please email Roger or slap on your LGRR singlet, strap on your runners, and let’s go run our hearts out!

For full results, check out: http://pih.bc.ca/results/2007/gunnershaw.html

Happy reading and happy running!

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