The Niagara Ultra is one of my favorite races. The course is beautiful (even with this year's modification I refused to embrace...and thus ended up running 60+ km!). The course follows a recreation path along the Niagara River on the Canadian side of the River. It goes by several scenic and historic sites including monuments by Queenstown, the Botanical Gardens, the Spanish Aero Car, the Floral Clock. My extralong version also passed whirlpool rapids, Victoria Gardens, Clifton Hill (including a brief visit to Tim Hortons for a donut), the Secret Garden, and of course the American and Horseshoe Falls.
My husband and I have traveled to this race for the past 3 years and plan to continue for many years to come. So we are friendly with the race director and consider many of the runners our friends. This year because we stayed at one of the hotels at Niagara on the Lake, I even hung out with several of the runners the night before the race including: Diane, Addy, Iris, their respective spouses and a bunch of other ultra runners (and race directors) from the Canadian Ultra running community. I will be seeing many of these folks at the Vermont 100, which will be nice.
During the race, I ended up running into many of my new and old friends. For about 10 km (once I rejoined the course after my 4 a.m. start that took me all the way to the falls), I ran with my husband and Richard Takata. Richard had been the guiness book of world records holder for 7 marathons on 7 continents. Alas his record fell earlier this year. We had spent a bit of time with Richard when he drove to the JFK 50 miler in Fall 2007, including sharing a meal at the Reston Runners pre-race dinner. As per my suggestion, Richard started the 50 miler at 5 a.m. so every so often along the course we would run into each other and chat.
Finally, I ended up losing both Tristan and Richard as I went sightseeing and taking pictures of the pretty scenery. I actually thought I would be in last place (for the second year in a row), but in fact there was one other runner who took over 9 hours. In my defense considering my extra mileage to see the falls, the number of pictures, bathroom breaks (gotta look and smell fresh in a race!) and my little side trip for a donut, 9 hours is not that bad!
After finishing, I was able to spend a bit of time with all of my friends. It was nice to catch up and share stories of the run. I was a bit bummed out that Tristan and I had to rush back to USA after the race so we could catch a plane back home. The day after the Ultra, I was heading to a conference in Boston. After getting home about midnight, I had just 3 hours of sleep before the airport shuttle picked me up for this business trip. Guess this lack of sleep hopefully has prepared me for Vermont 100, which is now just under 2 weeks away!