Villeneuve rules Grizzly
Canmore’s Phil Villeneuve again proved why he’s king of the trail run, winning the inaugural Grizzly Ultra marathon on Sunday (Oct. 7) at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
The former cross-country skier conquered the gruelling 50-kilometre run in 4:05:33, 13 minutes ahead of second place Dr. Andy Reed (4:18:24) on a course that threw a little bit of everything at the racers.
“There wasn’t a lot of elevation compared to the other races I’ve done this year, so I’d call it a moderate 50 km,” Villeneuve said. “There was lots of variety and a leg to satisfy every type of runner.”
While the road runners blazed out of the gates for the first leg, Villeneuve grew stronger as the day went on, catching eventual third-place finisher Steven Griffith-Cochrane right before the technical single track section, and never looked back.
“I think the course suited me because it got harder and harder. The road runners go out crazy to start, but in the third and fourth leg you had to work harder to maintain a steady pace.”
Villeneuve was so fast, he kept pace with the relay teams for the entire run.
“I was glad to have the relay teams there. It’s nice to have someone to chase and have guys chase me. It’s a bit of a cat and mouse game,” he said.
This was his longest run since a 50 mile run in September. Achilles and IT band (iliotibial) problems meant he had to cram a lot of training into the week before.
“I run better with volume in my legs. It’s the opposite of most, but it works for me,” Villeneuve said.
Reed, coming off a fifth-place finish in the 100-mile Pine to Palm race in Oregon three weeks ago, said the course was in great shape.
“We figured sub 4:30 would win it today, but the first lap was super fast. Some guys were doing 3:50 kilometres, so we knew that wouldn’t last,” Reed said.
He kept close to Villeneuve, but lost him on the single-track sections, noting he now prefers the longer distances.
“I knew Phil looked strong and he’s superfast on single track,” Reed said. “The 100 mile is my distance. I’m not very fast.”
Amy Golumbia of Canmore won the women’s solo race in 4:52, ahead of Angela Bates (5:07:10). The 30-year-old holistic nutritionist had no expectations going into the race coming off an injury, but grew stronger as the race went on.
“I didn’t have a lot of pressure, since I knew I could always play the injury card. But I went faster as the race went on. I had a lot of pain on the third leg, but got better when I got to the aid station knowing there was only 12 kilometres to go,” Golumbia said.
This was her first attempt at a 50 km race in years and for most of the run she had no idea she was in first place.
“I was just happy to finish it,” she said.
“It was nice to have turkey dinner with the family after.”
Balancing work and family and recovering from two achilles heel injuries (Golumbia needed Platelet Rich Plasma injections from Dr. Rick Balharry over the summer), she does plan on completing more distance races next season – and beating a few more men in the process.
“When I ‘grow up’ I want to chick the guys like Ellie Greenwood,” Golumbia said.
Tri-It Multisport won the team race with a time of 4:02:38. Grant Thornton’s team was second (4:04:38) and Team R N B’s (4:07:04) was third. For complete results, visit www.winningtime.ca
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