From the moment I arrived in Sayward, B.C., I felt the warmth of the community as it welcomed me as one of the almost five hundred participants who took part in the 2014 Kusam Klimb. The friendly host at the Cable House Cafe prepared me coffee and chicken salad before I picked up my race number, and the kind staff at the Kelsey Rec Centre went out of their way to give us a comfortable night's sleep (for the $20 we paid to stay there we had use of the rec centre swimming pool, whirlpool, and TV room.)
The descent was a slimy process as the rain and melting snow created a series of challenging mud holes. I almost lost my left shoe gaiter to one of them. I was glad to see they had ropes to help us down the steeper slippery places. At a snowy decline where I chose to sit and slide around ten metres I lost a Nathan drink bottle. By the time I realized it was gone, I was too far down to make an attempt at reclaiming it. On the ropes I met a lady who remembered me from the year before when I had offered aid to her husband who was cramped up and dehydrated. I had given him two S-caps which enabled him to finish. She commented on how weeks later she had read about the incident in my blog. Just then, the fellow behind us, listening in on our conversation, said he forgot to bring his S-caps on the run and he could use some. I happened to have extra with me, so I gave him a couple before continuing on with my descent.
I picked up speed after leaving the snow and muck, and once we were out of the woods I was able to keep a steady pace running down the winding snake ridge to the 3rd aid station where a spread of Nanaimo bars was waiting laid out. One of the aid volunteers filled my drink bottle with Gatorade as I attempted to adjust my left shoe gaiter which was about to fall off. I scarfed a Nanaimo bar, as I waved goodbye.
I passed several runners over the last ten kilometers, stopping once to give Advil to a lady who was hurting. The continuous downhills put a strong pounding on the quads. The last aid station had a Hawaiian theme, the ladies tending it had grass skirts on, and were dancing the hula as I approached. I commented there that I would be heading to Hawaii in two weeks time as I took one of the pineapples they offered on a serving tray. Checking my watch as I left, I saw that I might be able to finish in under 4 hours. I picked up speed when I heard rock music playing, and the amplified voice of an announcer echoing up the hill. It was 3:52 as I rounded the last corner, on the paved road toward the finish. I could just make it. I crossed the finish line at 3:58. Almost 1/2 an hour faster than I had run the Kusam Klimb the previous year.
While waiting for the evening after race buffet, we took advantage of Kelsey Rec Centre's offer to let us use their pool and hot tub to soothe our aching muscles (a bonus for those of us who had paid to spend the night there). Other racers were welcome as well but they had to pay a small fee. We made friends with some of the local children at the pool who dared us old goats to go down the kiddy slide. Never too old for fun, Louis Nadeau and I took up the challenge to the amusement of all.
Later, I joined over a hundred hungry runners as we filled our bellies at the buffet in the Sayward Community Hall. Awards, and door prizes, were given out. The festivities ended around 8:30 p.m.. Since it was Summer Saltice there was still plenty of sunshine left in the day to light my drive home to the Comox Valley.