Saturday, 24 August 2013

TNF Banff 3 Peaks Challenge - 21st of August 2013

A couple of months ago I had an idea of doing something out of the ordinary before I left Canada. 

I came up with the idea of running from The North Face Banff store in town out to Norquay Ski Resort then to the summit of Cascade Mountain then back down to the store for a refuel station then out to the top of top to pick up the trail to summit Mt Rundle before descending and finishing off with a summit of Sulphur Mountain, and finish where I had started in town outside The North Face store.. As far as we knew after doing some research and asking around this was going to be a first for this challenge and many others had ran the 3 peaks but used a car to get in between each trail head. This made it more exciting for me to know if I completed the challenge I would have the fastest known time!
Route/Elevation data..  

The summer didn't go to well for me with a injury to my hamstring, I ended up not running for 5 weeks before I competed in this years TNF Canadian Death Race. Therefore I had really not given this new challenge any though with time running out and recovery from my race... Until last week I was speaking to my manager Randy about this weeks rota and he mentioned I could have Wednesday off to try my challenge.. Well this got my mind thinking could I put everything in place and get my mind into the frame of doing this challenge in a matter of 5 days and only two and a half weeks after race TNFCDR! It was easier than I thought all I had to do was sort my self out.. The support I received before running was amazing, I had a number of people jump at me to become my support crew which was amazing as I was never going to get it done with out them! The amount of messages I received was out of this world! And I thank each and every one who did take the time to help me out and send me messages of good luck on my Facebook and Twitter this is truly what got me though the day! 

  • Cascade Mt - Shawn and Conor
  • Mt Rundle - Jason
  • Sulphur Mt - My little Gem / Randy

Spot the runner!.. My descent from Cascade Mt.

Wednesday the 21st of August come round so quick.. 5:00am start and I was off! I was nervous about doing Cascade Mountain as with being injured over the summer I hadn't had time to go up and see the mountain/route.. And this was the longest and highest of the 3 peaks.. I set off down Banff Avenue with a good clear positive mind of giving this challenge a good go! I wasn't going to not finish and fail twice while being in Canada after my DNF in the Fernie 80k Ultra. After leaving Banff town it was a bit of a road run up to Norquay Ski resort where the trail for Cascade Mountain started. Once onto this trail I was feeling much happier running on undulating single file tracks till I hit the river crossing where I knew (after looking the day before) that there was no way around this and I had to take my shoes and socks off and walk through freezing cold water at 6:00am to continue up Cascade! But it could of been worse my support crew Conor and Shawn had all ready had to cross at 4:00am in the morning to get up onto the top ridge before I made it there to offer me some food and water as fuel. After running for a further 1:20 I caught up to the guys on the false summit ridge.. by this time the sun had started to rise and the views were out of this world! I continued up to the summit before descending back down the ridge to get some food and drink of the guys before heading back to the ski resort. The summit was so cold! The wind was really strong and I had to pick my route really well to save getting to close to the edges along the way.. After re-fueling with the guys I left them and headed down, crossed the river and bumped into two black bears along the trail! Only in Canada.. This was an amazing experience and strangely gave me a little boost. On reaching the car park again for the ski resort I noticed I had a good solid run hitting summit and back in 3hours 54minutes! Down the road I went and back to The North Face store in Banff to collect some fresh water and take on some fuel to ready me for the second peak Mt Rundle. 

I decided to take a good 15 minutes in store to recover and get some good fuel on board before I headed off as the weather was getting well above 25 degrees by now and I need to take on as much water and food as possible.. 25minutes later down some trails I had the trail head for Mt Rundle and started to climb, this trail just goes up from the start and just gets steeper along the way. I was feeling so warm and dehydrated once I had been climbing for an hour, I started to drinking my water like it was going out of fashion.. That was the worst mistake I was every going to do! 30 minutes later I was on the dragons back of Mt Rundle and still had a lot of climbing to do to hit the summit I ran out of water! I had drank all 2L I had in my pack and I was just getting to the most exposed area with the sun. Different to Cascade, Rundle had no wind at all just sun beaming down on me and I am never good in the heat. 3/4 of the way to the summit I really started to loose control a little and had to keep sitting down on the scree slope as I was loosing focus and my vision was even blur!! I started to panic a little as I knew I wasn't in a great place to be loosing control and I was a long way from Jason (my next support crew) I managed to reach the summit somehow and just took a lengthy break while sat on the summit I started to hallucinating that there was bears on the summit with me?? Crazy I know! I have never ever been so dehydrated that it has got that bad, I took my bladder out of my pack took the top off and tried to tip anything out I had into my mouth, this was nothing! The bladder was bone dry and nothing left in the tube either, my mouth was like a desert by this time. The only I could think was open my tub of Vaseline I had and rub some on the inside of my mouth and on my tongue to give it some moisture. The other down side to my mouth being so dry I couldn't take any fuel/food on board as it just stuck to my mouth like glue. After a very very long and slow descent down to the forest trail I finally bumped into Jason 3 hours later! I have never been so happy so him ha! I think he could tell straight away something was wrong with how pale I looked and my whole body language was down, I breifly explained what had happened and took a full bottle of water on board followed by a bottle of coke and then a second bottle of water while Jason filled my bladder up with water also. Little did I know at the time he had given me all his water to me too! (Thanks man, but that was crazy! You should of kept some too) I felt a different man after spending 20 minutes with Jason just eating and drinking. Shortly after I contiuned down the trail to head over to Sulphur Mountain my 3rd and final peak of the day before heading back into town to stop the watch. My total time for up and down Mt Rundle to trail head was my slowest ever, but I was glad just to be down and off the mountain safely - 6Hours and 15 Minutes. 

Climbing up to summit one.
After a run from the trail behind the Fairmont hotel up to the Gondola for Sulphur I had hit the trail head to tackle Sulphur Mountain, with it taking so long unfortunately I had missed Randy my next part of my support crew as he was looking after his baby. (Thanks for waiting around for 40 minutes for me anyway Randy!) Sulphur Mountain is totally different to the first two peak as there is no exposed areas and it is switch backs all the way up in the trees to the board walk to the summit. I was really struggling by this point with my legs feeling so heavy and I just felt like I didn't have much energy left. I really started to notice that The Canadian Death Race 125k Ultra from two and a half weeks ago was clearly still in my legs and was making things a lot harder. But after what felt like a real long climb I had reached my final summit! And was starting to make my way back town the trail before running back into town to finish my challenge, half way down the trail I was met by my little monkey Gem who had finished work and ran out to run me in for the last few miles! This was a great little boost for me and I started to run a little quicker down into town. Jason had also drove up to see me on my final road into the finish to offer the last bit of support too. After 15 Hours and 32 minutes I was final back at the store and the challenge was complete!! I had done it, not sure how but I had completed what I had set out to do from 5:00am that morning. It was great to reach the store and see many friendly faces I was greeted by some good friends who was working Marie, Kayla and Josh and also Shawn, Conor and Jason was all in store too. The feeling inside was amazing I felt I had done something big and I had all this buzzing energy from finishing... 

We had asked around a lot before the challenge about who had done this before and it came about that many had done the three peaks in 24hours before but had drove in between each trail head but not the way I had done it, and as far as we know I had just set the fastest know time for this challenge with running in-between each trail heads.. :-) 

Again a huge thank you to everyone who got involved to support me by coming out on the day or sending me good luck and well messages! It all means a lot to me... 
Finished! 15hr 32mins later...

I have put a very small video together (on the link below) of some footage I took throughout the day for people to see if your interested.. (But no laughing at my commentary along the way, not sure what I was doing!) 

Thanks for reading 
Paul x

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