A Whitehorse ultra-runner is 50 kilometres closer to his target mileage and already has one race under his belt after completing the Gorge Waterfalls 50K last weekend in Oregon.
Ben Yu Schott, completed the course, which takes racers past waterfalls in the Benson State Recreational Area, in eight hours, 30 minutes and 48 seconds. He was 195th overall.
“I honestly went into it with no time goal at all,” he said this morning from Portland, Oregon. “All I cared about was finishing.”
In the early-season race, Yu Schott said he was just trying to stay ahead of the aid station cut-off times.
Forty people of the roughly 300 who started the 50K event did not finish.
“I’m a finisher, not a racer,” said the 38-year-old. “I have fun [and] enjoy as much as one can.”
The race in Oregon was unique, with numerous waterfalls crisscrossing the course.
At about the 30K mark, Yu Schott was feeling the pain of running an ultra.
“You always suffer in ultras like this,” he said. “I came around the corner and there was this massive waterfall.
“It was a really good pick-me-up.”
It also featured a handful of minor creek crossings.
Yu Schott didn’t use his normal strategy of swapping out shoes mid-way through the race and used different socks than normal. With the damp conditions, his feet were feeling rugged by the end of the race, his heels bloody.
“My feet did suffer a bit,” he said, but not as bad as they have in the past.
Race day was a runner’s perfect 14 degrees, with no rain – uncommon spring weather in those parts – and sun at times.
For the most part, the trail was clear, with a dusting of snow on some parts. The first half of the course was smooth trail and became more technical with sharper rocks and more mud on the second half.
Yu Schott said he enjoys the headspace that ultra running offers athletes.
“When I’ve been on my feet for six hours, my head is nice and clear,” he said. “I’m just in it.”
He also enjoys travelling to other locales and getting to meet like-minded runners.
Normally when choosing a race, Yu Schott likes to stay within a one-flight radius of Whitehorse. But this course, with its “waterfall cachet” seemed like an interesting one to try. There was a lottery to enter, and he also wasn’t expecting to
gain a spot.
The early-season race has afforded Yu Schott a 50K bump in his mileage and the opportunity to run on new trails in the Portland area.
This season, he also plans to run the new local Reckless Raven Ultra as a relay with a friend, North Vancouver’s Buck’in Hell Ultra and B.C.’s Golden Ultra, for the third year in a row.