This was not the first 50 mile I’d attempted and I had a monkey on my back about the distance. I’d attempted the 84km Molesworth Run in November last year just prior to moving to Canada and that run foundered in 30 degree heat and no shade ending with dehydration and bad blisters after 8 hours and 64km.

I’d been very nervous about taking Stormy on. I’d vacillated over it for weeks. The day after the 50km Knee Knacker, my friend Ross and I decided to do the relay as a 2 person team. That intent only lasted until I convinced myself that the 50M was doable and told Ross I wanted to do it as long as I didn’t leave him in the lurch. He, silly man that he is, eventually decided to do the 50M too. He accuses me of emotional blackmail – I don’t think he minded too much…

I made plans to fix the problems of Molesworth. There was a possiblity that it would be 30 degrees in Squamish and the course had some significant uncovered sections so I got myself a sun cap with a desert flap and some special blister reduction socks. I should thank the ultra list for the recommendations!

On the day, the forecast turned out to be overcast with a high of 20 degrees which I was happy with. The race started pretty well and Ross and I ran together. I told him that it was just over 20 years since my father died and that I was dedicating my race to him. One of my memories of my father was running through the Auckland Domain following his boots while we run up a tiny stream. It’s largely because of his death from a heart attack that I run.

It was Ross’ plan to run with me at the start so when he got excited I pulled him back…again and again. I told him I didn’t want to be his dad but he seemed happy with the arrangement. This went right up until the 53rd minute when Ross had a serious vomit on the side of the trail. We worked out that it was probably breakfast too late so we kept on. I got him drinking a sip at a time and then a few more to get his stomach restarted until he asked if a gel was a good idea. I told him to take it with lots of water – and then kept on reminding him every few minutes to take some more fluid.

We ran together for about 20km until Ross put his iPod on and just went. It was like watching a knight pull down his visor and prepare to do battle. I saw him at the next aid station and he followed me out for awhile and then went past at a particularly high boulder and was gone. He told me later that he had intended to get to half way and then drop. He got there, felt alright, and kept going.

I did just fine getting through the first half. The first goal was to get to the start of leg 6 well before the cut off. Leg 6 starts at about 54km and has a 11km hill going up and about the same back down (it’s called 9 Mile Hill but isn’t). I got into the aid station at the 6 hour mark well ahead of the cut off at 8:30. I’d started feeling a little niggle on my left foot so I stopped at the aid station and my good friends from Pacific Road Runners came over and helped me sort the almost blister out and refilled my Camelbak. I’d been carrying my special hat but it was an overcast day; I didn’t need it so I dropped it into my drop bag along with the extra drink powder I’d been carrying.

Off I went up that hill. I mostly walked it, ran the flats and the downhills. Spent some time talking with a fellow runner called Allie. She was just about to start her last year at high school and was attempting a 50 miler. That’s what?, 17 years old, and deciding to run 50 miles. Very impressive and I thought *I* was nuts!

Finally got to the top and started my way down. My legs were feeling very tired at this point so I just kept things ticking over down that hill. To my surprise I kept going past people who were walking. I got down to the leg 6 aid station at about 10 hours – 30 minutes ahead of the cut off and leaving me 2 hours to get through the 13ish km to the finish.

Now I was really tired and watching my GPS to try and keep myself ahead of the final cutoff. I was walking uphills and running gently through the downhills. I would normally be smoking terrain like that and get it done in 1:30 or faster but that definitely wasn’t happening today. Fortunately it was mostly downhill. I came past the last aid station and they told me there was 6km to go except my watch claimed I had 9km to go. I know it’s inaccurate around trees and mountains so I was hoping for the former distance but ran as if it were the latter. Eventually my watch ran out of charge at about 11:30 leaving me with no idea how I was doing.

I kept on motoring and worrying until I came out of the trees above Squamish and could see the finish line a little way ahead. To my surprise there was one final aid station and they told me I had a mile to go.

It took a while to get through the final trail which frustratingly twisted and turned instead of taking me straight there but eventually I was through it, turned the corner and could see the finish line. A great big enormous smile came across my face as I crossed and everybody was cheering. All my PRR friends came over and high-fived me and I sat down on the grass – until another runner started coming through the finish so I got myself up and out of there way.

Final time: 11:53. Cutoff time for the finish 12:00. That was a very close run thing!

My friends were so kind. They got me a camp chair and waited in the line for some food for me and were otherwise very solicitous. Ross had a few more stomach issues but finished in 10 hours.

It was also marvelous to kill the Molesworth monkey. As I said the my friend Sukhi, “Molesworth is vanquished!”.

Thanks to the Race Director and volunteers for putting on such a great race, to Pacific Road Runners for helping so much and, finally, to Ross for being silly enough to take on the challenge with me.

In memoriam Andrew Edward Ross Pegg 10/08/1944 – 04/08/1989 Requiscat in pace

(C) Copyright Edward Sargisson 2009