32km isn’t that far. I have run longer. Around zero degrees isn’t that cold. I have run colder.
But it WAS far and it WAS cold and it WAS dark and it WAS tough.
I don’t know where to place this one among the 3 that I have done now. It was tough. Very tough. There were some dark moments out there. Particularly between 21-27km. Every step was painful, the wind was blowing in our faces. Energy levels were at a minimum but we kept moving. Mostly at a snails pace by this point. Trying to keep warm as the wind picked up. I hit 27km and headed towards Roberval and my legs completely cramped. Still I pushed on. I got that feeling of crossing the finish line. The feeling of success and relief and pride. The feeling that I didn’t get last year when I had to stop at 21km.
In the days leading up to the race we knew it wouldn’t be very cold. This wasn’t good news. It meant the snow would be wet and soft and it was still supposed to be windy. Really not a great combination. Colder would have been easier to manage. The snow would have been more firm and we would have less concerns about getting hot and wet early in the race and freezing in the dark and the wind later on. But that’s what makes this race what it is. It’s a physical challenge for sure but it’s really the mental and the logistics that make or break this race. Right from the first few steps It was already apparent that we would be in for a long day. The snow was soft and we had a long way to go. I knew that I would finish though. Unfortunately I knew I would suffer to do it.
I love this race. It’s tough. It’s physical but more mental. It takes you to some bad places… but then there is the cause and the people. The amazing people. The other runners, the volunteers, the organizers and the young people that have seen the benefits of the foundation first hand. And that is what makes this race incredible.
And that’s why next February I will be back in Roberval. It’s too early to say whether I will run or volunteer but I will be there. There is something about this race, this community and this foundation that keeps me coming back.