What a day for the Team Over The Top runners of coach Jeff in yesterday’s Egg Nog Jog road race in Terra Cotta, Ontario, Canada! The morning broke cold (-13C with wind chill) and sunny with no wind, snow nor ice on the course – in other words, WAY too good conditions for North America’s toughest rated 10.8 kilometre race. When you are used to doing the ENJ in a blizzard with ice and snow-packed roads, yesterday’s conditions were indeed ridiculously good. Having said that, it’s STILL a brutally challenging run – even for the world’s best mid-distance and cross-country runners…let alone the masses of average runners who decide to fill up the 600 runner field.
The course takes you up and down (mainly up) tough stretches of the Niagara Escarpment as you run in a box around the Terra Cotta Conservation Area. It used to be a race that attracted only the hard core elites of all age groups (maximum 200 entrants) for most of its 31 year history. Only in the past 5 years have the mid to back-packers jumped into the fray, causing the organizers (Georgetown Runners Club) to cap the field at 600. With this, the average finishing time has jumped from 49 minutes to 54 minutes. It still takes a special runner to go under 50 minutes…there just aren’t proportionately as many of them anymore.
That’s why I am so proud of my TOTT runners who trained on the course 5 times this fall along with intense mid-week track or hill sessions to get ready for the challenge. The focused training obviously paid off. Check out the results:
- Terry Rasmussen – 46:48 (4th in his age group and 27th out of 600!)
- Kerry Howse – 51:16 (3rd in her age group…and 2 months pregnant with baby #2!)
- Sohail Nejat – 53:19 (4th in his age group)
- Paige Belo – 55:41 (2nd in her age group and only 16 years old!). Her 1st time racing the ENJ
- Mark Lacoste – 57:01 (18th out of 38). His 1st time racing the ENJ
- Paula Bucci – 57:35 (9th out of 42)
- Annette Carter – 1:02:28 (9th out of 33) with MANY stops due to foot cramps – of all things…
- Stephanie Canestraro – 1:04:01 (22nd out of 44). Her 1st time racing ENJ with virtually NO training
- Kimberly Rosehart – 1:13:55 (27th out of 33 and 5 months pregnant expecting baby #1 with Hubby Terry Rasmussen – see him listed above)
- Michelle Bolhuis – 1:27:20 (32nd out of 33 AND the only barefoot runner in the field – heck, the only barefoot runner in the 31 year history of the race!). Due to a torn ACL, Michelle can only run pain-free barefoot. She normally trains and runs in Florida. Thus, doing so in -13C temps over ripped up asphalt & sharp stones is a minor miracle!
I must mention that this was also the 1st time in the race’s history that TWO expectant moms (Kerry finished the race whilst expecting her 1st child 3 years ago!) not only did the ENJ but ran the whole thing and finished strong! As you could gather, these are not your average moms-to-be!
The coach ran the course barefoot as well BUT I was in a support role. This was my 5th time doing so but my 15th time at the ENJ race. It still intimidates the HECK out of me even after all these years. The Valley of Death II is a brutal 2-phased climb. In and of itself, this would make any race difficult. Combine it with another 10 body-beating climbs along with 8 vicious downhills…well, you get the picture of what makes the ENJ race anything but a “jog’!
A special congrats to all of my TOTT gang who raced so well – AND NEVER WALKED – not even on the Valley of Death II! Here’s also to the other 12 team members who could not do the race for a variety of reasons.
I leave you with a quote from Nelson Mandela (God rest his soul!):
“The greatest glory in living lies NOT in never falling, BUT in rising every time we fall!”
Here’s to always RISING!