Sutton 22km Trail Race

Written by Olivier

The following weekend was the Xtrail Race in Mt Sutton in the Eastern Townships. This is such a nice trail race as it’s 98% single tracks with lots of climbs and technical downhills. Last year, I won the 12km and I thought I would try the 22km this year. It would be my first time racing such a distance and carrying water (using a camel pack) to stay hydrated throughout the race, since only one water station was present on the entire course.

Off the start there’s a small section on the road to stretch out the runners before getting in the single tracks. As you get in the single tracks so start to climb for a while (I think its 2km) so you have to be smart and listen to your body as you still have about 20km to go…I felt good during the first hour of the race and ran in 2nd place behind my training partner Nick Best. A few minutes later, we got passed by another strong Ottawa based runner Gareth Davies and I thought should I stay on him now or is it too early to push the pace. My GPS was dead so I didn’t know how much was left so I ended up staying with Nick another 10 minutes then went after Gareth. We reached the only water station after a long steep climb on the ski hill and I stayed at the top to drink a few cups of cold water (as mine was really hot since it was 30 degrees) and then attacked the last section (someone on the top of the mountain yelled “ keep it up you have 5km to go but it’s all downhill from here”). I was quite aggressive on the downhills since I knew that’s where I could buy some time on my opponents. I ended up passing Gareth and never looked back. I finished just under 2 hours for the first win of the season. I was happy with the result but upon my return to Ottawa felt a sharp pain under my right foot and around my right ankle. I thought it would go away with time but it was not the case…2-3 weeks went by (I know not smart on my part) until I saw someone…I was told that it was probably my cuboid (a bone in my foot) that was moved/twisted and the muscles attached on it and around it where inflamed as a result. I saw a health professional (Steve Pelletier, Chiropractor) who did a quick manipulation and instantly I felt the bone move and the pain went away luckily. I slowly began running again but in the end I had lost 3 weeks of specific training (I did do some maintenance work like weights, cycling and pool running but no running) to get ready for the North American Mountain Running Championships for I did not consult right away 🙁 My fault that’s all I can say.

My dad told me during the rehab period: “Sure, it’s great that you won the race that Saturday…but your goal should always be to be able to train again on Monday”. That’s so true as sometimes you get caught in the moment and you sacrifice your body just to win a race. In this case, I over did it on the technical rocky downhill sections and created an unnecessary 2 minutes lead. Sure, I could have slowed down but I did not see it that way during the race. In the end, I was probably unlucky on one of the thousand steps I took in that race and my bone got twisted as result. That’s part of the game and I have to live with the consequences but I learned my lesson and will reassess next time I’m in a similar situation.

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