Sunday, June 27, 2010

Photographic Journey through a Mount Douglas Gutbuster training run (a slight variation) Trail Running Victoria, BC

On Father's day this year I decided to take my camera along with me on my run. This is not a simple task since my camera is not that compact. It has a 12x zoom and is pretty bulky. I have been wanting to document my average training run for quite some time so I finally decided to give it a go. It really didn't slow me down that much or make running that much more difficult but it did add about 20 minutes since I had to stop for each of the 200 photos I took. I held the camera the whole time and wrapped the strap around my wrist so I wouldn't drop it. So here is the course. The only variation is I start at point 26 on the map instead of point 1. This only changes the distance by less than 100 meters.

First I will post a video for people who prefer to see a trail live with music.

This is my starting point of my training run (point 26 on the map). I then head north or in the case of this photo follow the hiker on the sign on the Norn trail.

The first length of trail is very smooth and flat this is about 100 meters into the run at a place I call "the dip".

This stretch of trail is a rooty portion halfway between points 28 and 29 on the Norn trail. This length of trail has a very gently grade upward but is hardly noticeable.

Slight downward grade with some swerves between points 29 and 4.

Once again a narrow winding portion of trail between points 29 and 4. This portion of trail is flooded throughout the winter spring and after summer rainstorms.

This is the conjunction of Norn and Whitaker at point 4. The trail now gently climbs a shallow grade as it heads to the South-Southwest.

Just after point 4 and shows the typical trail conditions for the next couple hundred meters.

The trail now gives way to older growth Douglas Firs and more rocks and ferns and often has water flowing down the trail or standing water in the Spring and after storms.

The trail next climbs in a spot I call "the ferns". It is a short steep hill obviously drown in ferns just about to point 5.

You keep climbing toward point 5.

Classic stretch of flattish trail as you approach point 5.

You next have to "bob and weave" around these two arbutus trees between points 5 and 6.

A little climb leading to point 6.

A steep short climb onto the Churchill road crossing after point 6.

Point 7 begins the Irvine Climb.

This is where it starts climbing just after point 7.

Classic Irvine Climb

A nice stretch of trail next to a ledge with great views to the East towards Gordon Head and even Mount Baker.

Here is the view looking out.

The trail gets rocky as you approach point 9.

I call this slab the "rock ramp" can be quite slippy in the rain.

More climbing after the rock ramp.

This is the last steep stretch until the summit nicknamed the "Stone Staircase".

After the stone staircase there is a winding asphalt path that leads to the crow's nest at the summit. Approximately 500 feet of vertical elevation gained from the start of the run until the summit

Self timed summit shot with the gulf islands and mainland BC behind me across the Georgia Straight.

Summit shot without my mug in the view.

After the summit at point 10 you begin a rapid descent off the Northwest face of Doug know as the "Bedrock buster". A barren glacial scoured diorite face. This is a treacherous and technical trail and is where I am the most cautious. A miscalculation on this trail could seriously injure you. Rain only makes it worse and you have to move that much slower.

Typical footing and trail conditions as you descend the "Bedrock Buster".

Descending the buster

A stretch of trees along the Buster.

Last steep descent to point 11. Super steep here.

The trail between points 11 and 12 has slight uphill grade but is nice slice of rooty rocky single track.

Rocky approach to point 12 and starts the ascent of Little Mount Doug.

Begin climbing the short and steep north face of Little Doug.

Short and sweet climb up to LD.

The summit of Little Mount Doug with a lone arbutus tree. Big Doug through the branches of the Arbutus. Lastly a timer shot of me getting ready to take the plunge down the steep south face of LD.

Rocky and steep descent.

This is the last shot before I ate it and hit my camera lens on the ground. I was not happy but I think everything is OK.

Point 13 after running off from Little Doug.

The trail begins to head toward the trees at point 14. This is typical of the stretch between points 13 and 14. Rocky and barren with a slight decline. You can actually run this pretty fast if you pick the right line.

Average stretch of trail between points 14 and 15 and at point 15 the trail dives back into the forest.

When you enter back into the forest after point 15 you enter into a nice stretch of single track called Mercer. The trail has a steady decline that doesn't trash your quads but instead lets you really crank up the speed.

Classic Mercer!

Approaching point 17 along Madock.

Steep stretch between points 19 and 20 along the Whitaker Trail.


At point 21 you begin your final climb up Big Doug via a steep rocky gulley up the South face.

The climb starts out very loose and sandy and then changes into a rocky almost stair-like climb.

Here is where it gets rockier.

Almost to the summit.

Some stairs leading to point 22 and the second Summit of Big Doug.

After summiting you begin your descent of the "powerline" trail but the top bit is quite overgrown this time of year.

Here is some footage of me running down the powerline grind. The video sucks because the lens cap was clicking against the mic (so turn the sound off) and also the video gets very dark when I reach the forest. The actual video wasn't so dark but once I uploaded it, it turned black. It does illustrate the section of trail somewhat but it definitely won't win any awards for best cinematography.

"I now have been running for just over 10 kms, this is my last km."
"I am going to try to record my last descent of Mount Doug."
"This trails pretty overgrown."
"The most technical part of it."
"The next section is pretty steep and smooth, only a few roots get in the way."
"You can't tell how steep most of this stuff is because I have to hold the camera at a downhill angle just to see the trail. It's actually pretty steep. A lot of the photos I took earlier don't really do them justice at all."
"Just about done, only a few more hundred meters to the car, and it is basically just flat single track."

After the powerline descent there is just a few hundred more meters until you are back at the car. This stretch of trail tends to stay wet and muddy .

Last log to hurdle.

Bust out of the trail and ferns into the parking lot.

Back where I started. 11 km later, 2 summits of Big Doug and 1 of little Doug.

This is a day in my life. I think that the variability of terrain and scenery make this a perfect spot to train. It really is amazing that this is what lies just beyond my doorstep and I get to play in one of the most beautiful playgrounds in the world. Perhaps the main thing the course lacks is searing heat, and some of the dusty rocky trails with loose gravel so many of the Western US ultras have. I would like to have a longer climb like 1,000 feet at least, I feel the mountain with 500 feet is a bit short. I do repeats but that still works different parts of your legs on the down instead of solid 3,000 feet of up hill and solid 3,000 feet of descent. There are some areas close by on the Island with bigger climbs but still nothing compared to what I had at my doorstep in Utah.

On a different note I followed the Western States 100 miler off and on yesterday on various web sites. What an awesome year. Two people beat Jurek's 2006 record of 15:36. Geoff Roes came in at 15:07 with an amazing awe-inspiring first place victory. Tony Krupicka came in 6 minutes behind him at 15:13 and still smashed Jurek's 4 year record. What a show! I don't know how I faired on the contest to guess the top 10 places of the runners but I do know several of my top 5 of both men's and women's didn't start so I doubt I won. Tracy Garneau won the women's with a strong race, there was a mistake at an earlier aid station leading many to believe she dropped but she was the winner. Ann Trason's record still held though. Just amazing to see these awesome records fall. Only the utmost respect for these titans of the trails.