Rubble Creek Classic

Fog over the Cheakamus River at the Start Line
I ran the Rubble Creek Classic on Sunday as my last race of the season. A beautiful, challenging 25k in Garibaldi Provincial Park, the route takes runners up the Helm Creek trail in Whistler, across the cinder flats at the base of Black Tusk, through Taylor Meadows, and down the Garibaldi Lake trail switchbacks. When I say "up" and "down", here's what I'm talking about:
Rubble Creek Classic elevation profile (trailhungr.com)
It's not a race for the faint of heart, nor for the weak of knees, for that matter. I finished in 2 hrs 49, which put me at 11th woman (again!) and 37th overall. I definitely was not in race mode for this event; I hadn't run much since the 50k last month and, although I still feel like I have lots of endurance, I don't have that spring in my legs that comes with targeted training. I went into this with the goal of simply enjoying myself, and I must say: if there is an event to do for the pure joy of trail running, it is this one. Here are a few pictures I took along that top flat-ish section of the course, a well-worn trail through alpine scrub and the otherworldly moonscape of the cinder flats:
View of Black Tusk
As the photos show, it was an absolutely perfect day and the scenery was breathtaking. It was incredible to emerge from 1.5 hours of uphill running through a dense forest into this completely different landscape ... I couldn't help but to stop and take the pictures (this is an unsupported race - i.e. no aid stations or course markers - so a phone was recommended as part of the gear to carry. Handy for photo opps!). Shortly after this section was the first creek crossing I've had to do in a race. It was pretty hilarious to see runners trying to pick their lines across the water and hopscotch over small and slippery rocks. I witnessed one full-body wipeout into the creek, but I luckily made it across with only a foot soaker.
The Cinder Flats
This race was an amazing experience for a number of reasons. I think that this kind of alpine trail running might be my favourite: you have to work  - hard - to get to see these kinds of landscapes, but then the running up there is cruisy, beautiful and serene. I could have run along that trail forever. I also loved that the course took us through such varied environments; here are some pics (taken on a previous hike) of Taylor Meadows and the switchbacks back down to the finish:

Taylor Meadows (Black Tusk is just visible in the distance)
This doesn't do justice to how steep the switchbacks are -
My quads are still sore 2 days later!
The relaxed vibe of the event was also perfect for my season-ender. The race is limited to only 80 entrants; there were no bibs, no chips, no aid stations ... and the finish line consisted of race organizer James Retty standing at the trailhead saying "Great job! What's your name?" All of these pieces put together made it feel more like a Sunday run with friends than a competitive race (that said, there were some blazing fast times by the front runners). 

I admit that in the weeks leading up to this, part of me was regretting signing up: I knew that I wouldn't be fast, and I wasn't totally convinced that I wanted to spend my Sunday morning getting up at 5:30 to run for 3 hours. You'd think that at this point, I'd know myself better than that. Of course I loved it, because this is exactly what I love to do. Of course I'm glad I did it, because this week I'm heading into surgery and, in the accompanying forced down time from running, I'll be wishing I could be out there. And I will be, as soon as I possibly can. 

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