Friday, October 4, 2013

A Winter of Discontent and a distant Odyssey

This is my second winter in the US, but somehow seems like the first. It's the first time here when I've transitioned from summer to winter, and it's been a quick transition. Having a week off where I didn't have to run early before work made it seem more sudden, but the fading light, heavy rain and less sunshine makes running the trails harder and less fun.
Running over the many Portland bridges, in the dark, is fun. Once in a while!
Before this year my percentage of trail running was probably between 10-20% of mileage, maybe lower. This year its at about 70%, so the prospect of running back on the lit streets of Portland is really not very appealling. There are plenty of streets, but at the end of the day they dont have the variety and beauty of the trails here. They also don't have the hills, which is something else I've increased this year, from an average of 5000m a month in 2012 to over 9000m in 2013. I can't say I LOVE hills yet, but I do hate not knowing they'll be any climbing on a run. It seems cheating, on a training run.

So how to keep motivated during winter? I seem to race more out of summer time, and I'll do more track session if I can fit them in around races. A decent headtorch is on the shopping list, as are lightweight gloves. More weekends on different trails, and try and keep my hill metres up.

There's also a joy to be out there in mucky weather when the trails are quieter and you can come back with evidence that you've run off road. The muddy shoes and legs, the sweaty Buff, steam sometimes rising from your body.

Odyssey Buff still giving good service
A post from an SA running friend with a picture of a route marker from the Cape Odyssey trail race in 2007 brought back lots of great memories. The Odyssey was pretty much the first multi day stage race aimed at the 'normal' runner (ie you didn't have to carry your supplies on your back for multiple days). Even so the first year it was pretty brutal for those of us used to one day races. Five days of, according to my logbook 32k, 60k, 42k, 39k and 37k, with those last two days taking us a combined time of over 11 hours! Add in heat, climbs over mountains and big gaps between aid stations, and it still remains the toughest race I've done. The first year, with my partner Moyra, we won the first 4 stages, but I blew on both the long day (60k and 6 hours 40 mins) and the last day, and shuffled to the finish. The second year I only blew on the last day when we managed to almost lose over an hour lead. Only really being saved by shortening of the last day's stage and re-routing it onto road!

This route marker made it to someones garage
The Odyssey (as with other Kevin Vermaak events) was ahead of it's time and maybe a bit TOO tough, as it only lasted two years. Now we have African X, Southern Cross, and many other multi day stage races, which by virtue of their distances are even more accessible to runners. The pace is definitely quicker and the competition hotter than when it all started in 2007. Trail running was always a community, and it feels more so then ever, both here in the US and back in SA.


  1. The Odyssey was fun wasn't it, would love to have had Mr Garmin with me back then...

    I wonder if the Video footage of that race is avaible somewhere.. would be fun to watch. I have lots of pictures...

    1. I an only find day 3 2008 on you tube. You can tell it was 5 days, we;re all going v v slowly!