Monday, March 9, 2015

Athlete's Corner: Dirty Duo 50K with Tara Berry


Tara Berry taking 3rd place female at Gorge Waterfall 100K in 2013

When: March 7, 2015
Where: Jaycee House 1251 Lillooet Rd, North Vancouver, BC
Distance: 50K
Elevation Gain: 3304.3 m
Time limit: 8.5 hrs
Full race results: (here)

Tara finished in 1st place overall female, T: 5:16:30


A run at Chuckanut 


Chloé: Tara, you’ve been running strong, with progressively more impressive results. Tell us about your athletic background and how you got into the ultra scene.

Tara: The first ultra I entered was Chuckanut 50K in Washington in 2012. I signed up because a good friend of mine convinced me that I would be able to finish even though I had never ran further than 30K, ever. I had only done one other trail race before (the Iron Knee), and a few road half marathons.

My best friend and I (Alicia Woodside) decided to run our first ultra together which made it a lot of fun as we were both in unknown territory. Our goal was to finish together. We both had GI issues towards the end but just took our time, made it through and found the whole experience to be a lot of fun! We hiked a lot of the hills and had a blast running downhill and the technical sections! The Chuckanut Ridge trail was my favourite with the amazing view. The views from that race, and ultras that I’ve done since then, is what got me hooked on trail running. There was also snow that year which also made the road sections look beautiful!

As for my background, I played soccer up to university. I enjoyed running on the field more than handling the ball. Once I figured that out, I ran more and eventually stopped soccer. Other than trail running and hiking, I complement with biking (slowly on the seawall) or go to the gym, occasionally some yoga or other fitness classes. In the winter I’m usually snowboarding as much as I can when there is snow!


Snow at Chuckanut, 2012


Chloé:  How were you feeling going into the Dirty Duo? Tell us more about your preparation leading up to race day.

There’s been nagging injuries since Orcas Island 50K, but I’ve been able to do a few shorter runs, spacing them out, as to not over aggravate my Achilles. I hadn’t done any long runs since, and wanted to do Dirty Duo to test whether I could now run 50K, no matter how fast or how slow.


Going for the win at Orcas 50K, 2015


Chloé: Was Dirty Duo 50K a goal race? What were your key objectives or strategies for this particular run?

Tara: I wanted to use this race as training for Gorge Waterfalls 100K happening in a few weeks.  I like hills and the dirty duo course is mostly runnable, so I wasn’t sure how I would do on the flat and rolling sections. It was actually a good thing that there were those runnable sections, I needed a break from hills after Orcas! Coming down Ned’s I was cautious as there were a lot of rocks. I didn’t want to roll an ankle or fall and further injure myself. For fuel I used mainly Vega Gels, and at the aid stations some chips, mini Mars bars and cookies. Oreos yum! Alicia and I ran together for part of the first loop, which was fun and made time go by fast.


With Katie Wadden before Orcas 50K


Chloé:  How did it go?

Tara: Alicia and I had planned on running together, but she took off faster than I wanted to go. Since she was doing the relay, I decided to just hang back. I’m used to running the Baden Powell trail and love it. I don’t usually run that Old Buck / Ned’s area very often, but will start now that I know that trail better! I saw Alicia again as we started going up Old Buck and we ran together up to the turn off for the second loop. The second loop felt tougher on the up-hills, especially going up Seymour working my way to Ned’s. Because I started pretty easy, I felt good towards the end and picked up the pace a bit.

I’ve ran all of the Mountain Madness races in 2014 (Iron Knee, Fat Dog relay, Phantom, Hallows’ Eve). They are always well organized and I love the atmosphere of all of their events. I’ll definitely be continuing to sign up for more in the future!


Alex, Katie, Alicia and Tara on a training run

Chloé: What’s next for you?

Tara: After Gorge Waterfalls 100K, the main ones will be The Knee Knacker 30mi and Squamish 50K. I’m also on the waitlist for Cascade Crest and from what I hear, I’ll likely get in. So if that’s the case I’ll be training for my first 100 miler!


More info on Tara:

Ultra Signup (results)
Blog with multiple contributors: notrunningforgold.com 
Instagram: Tara.Berry.Outdooradventures
Facebook: Tara Berry


Deception Pass, 2013

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Winter postponed



I made the best of this cross-country ski season, which for me started on December 24th and concluded on February 21st. The two venues, Whistler Olympic Park and Callaghan Valley combined, invested a lot of effort to maximize trail conditions, despite capricious weather and scarce snowfall. Because Cypress Nordic wasn’t an option this year due to poor snow, I skied only a couple hundred kilometers total, which is nearly half the volume compared to past winters. It was heartbreaking but no surprise that my key race, the Payak50k, was cancelled. My aspirations of Nordic glory therefore postponed to 2016.


Whistler Olympic Park, my last ski :(

 Family Day run with Pascal Gray, on the return from
St Mark's on the HSCT ... making the best of early melt.
Finally completed the full Dilly Dally loop - Photo by Joel Payeur

Return to the tribe

And so with all my snow gear promptly packed away, a new set of gear emerges out of storage to facilitate my transition to summer play, and with this a whole new training routine and a giddy return to my trail running tribe.

I’m not registered for the Squamish50 races this year, but I make a point of joining their scheduled group training runs. These are quality, well-organized runs … and basically all “my people” are there. It’s fun. I make new connections at every outing. New running friends, translates to more access (invitations) and ideas (new routes) to future adventures, invigorating an endless bucket list.


105 runners at the first SQ50 orientation run (23K)

We shared excuses about sandbagging the run a little bit, tired/sore, it was simply pleasant
to chat and take photos, with Dave Melanson and Nicola Gildersleeve

Next up

I’ve never done the Gorge Waterfalls 50K, though I’ve ran in that beautiful area a few years ago. With only 6000ft elevation gain, and otherwise pretty flat non-technical terrain, I don’t expect to show a great performance there, it's not my kind of course. I don’t typically register to “running” races, but was looking for a low-pressure season opener – essentially, a scenic group run with aid stations and festive atmosphere.

After Gorge, I’ll be doing a lot of doubles and back-to-backs (double doubles), with some epic adventures in between, as prep for Vancouver100.


A dusting of snow on Crown MTN with Pascal and Joel see (video)

As a side bar, I’m addicted to smoothies. Here’s a favourite:

1 tbs nut butter (roasted almond is yum)
1 cup chocolate almond milk
3 stalks organic chard, kale, or beet leaves (spine removed)
1 frozen banana*
1 tbs maple syrup
Optional: 1 tsp Udo oil/other
*if you don’t have chopped frozen bananas handy, use a fresh one, along with 3-4 ice cubes.