Jul 26 2013

5 Peaks Albion Hills Trail Race

I decided to give this a try when looking for something to fill the calendar in July. With road running slowly becoming same-old-same-old boring, this seemed like a good idea.

There is no real trails to train where I live in Mississauga, so I could only hope my base would carry me through the 11 odd kilometres.

Pre Race

There was not much in the race kit, but I got a useful handheld water bottle holder/cooling sleeve, Vega recovery protein mix which I blended myself with their staionary bike powered blender at the Vega booth after the race, and a pack of Kicking Horse coffee beans.

There was a Salomon booth that allowed people to try out their line of trail shoes. I jogged a loop with apparently their top of the line race shoe that cost almost $200. I was actually allowed to use them in the race, but decided against new gear in a new environment.

Race Start

There is not a lot of space to pass in the single tracks, so the race start was in self-seeded waves, staggered at every 5 minutes – those going for overall victory would line for the the first wave, while those who wanted a nice Saturday stroll would be at the back.

I seeded myself in the second wave just in case. As part of the briefing, we were told that anyone we pass from the first wave would be counted as a “kill”!

Loop 1

About 100 metres after the start/finish line, the course immediately turned towards the single tracks. There really was no room to pass, but fortunately, everyone seemed to seed themselves properly, and everyone moved along at a good pace without leaving any significant gaps.

Being so close to the racer ahead, I needed to be especially vigilant with tree stumps, rocks, and other obstacles. I would not want to bring down everyone behind along with myself.

While I managed the climbs and flatter sections just fine from the start, descents felt sketchy, but it was just something I needed to get used to.

Gaps did start to open up halfway through the first loop, where I took advantage of the occasional wider sections to pass people. I don’t think I got any kills yet though.

Eventually, I ended up behind a gentleman in yellow shirt, and he ended up pacing me to the end of the lap.

All this climbing and descending was really having toll on my legs. My calves and quads were beginning to get tired already.

Lap 2

I took a small break at the turnaround point to replenish some electrolytes. The temperature was really getting warm by this point. Fortunately, most of the courses were shaded by the forest.

I remembered entering the same set of single tracks at the beginning of Lap 1, but this time, there was no one in front. It became almost a completely different experience, picking my own line instead of following the person in front, and seeing things I didn’t notice at all during the first lap.

Just over 1km into lap 2, I caught up to the yellow shirt guy again, and paced behind him. He had slowed down a little bit from the first lap, but I didn’t mind at this point.

Then he tripped over a tree stump, went into the bushes, and nearly took me down with him, but he somehow stayed up and carried on.

At one of the longer inclines, I finally decided to kick in a bit of effort while I still had some juice remaining. That distanced the yellow shirt guy, and didn’t see him again until after finish.

Halfway throught lap 2, my calves started to cramp, and it flaired up during hard uphill efforts, steep downhill sections, and when I landed hard. So, for the rest of the race, I kept as smooth as possible, and periodically flick my leg to keep it going. Even then, it got progressively worse, so the finish couldn’t come soon enough.


My final time was 1:05:58, which is about 5:48/km over 11.4km. Slow compared to a normal road race for sure, but in terms of effort, it was close to a half marathon, in my opinion.

There was plenty of bananas, bagels, cookies, and Cheetos(!) for everyone. The Vega booth has one of those hippie bike blenders where one could blend the protein mix from the race kit for a post-race drink.

Besides the awards, there were plenty of draw prizes for everyone. Obviously, my number was not drawn.

But fear not. There were still a few bags of mysterious white powder remaining on the prize table at the end. They turned out to be electrolyte powder and not what you think. So now I have a big bag of powder sitting in my pantry.


The next time, delayed onset muscle soreness was fully realized, and my legs were as sore as after pacing the full marathon earlier this year. My calves were especially tight, and that took at least until mid-week to be back to normal.

This had to do with lack of training in this type of terrain, and is the primary cause of the cramps during the race.

I will do these runs again, but would like to be more prepared next time. I wonder where can I go to train?

1 comment

  1. Paul Radcliffe

    Great report! You should thank yellow-shirt guy!

    I hear Run For The Toad is a good trail race

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