Road to Seek the Peak: Week 1

Each week we’ll be featuring posts from special guests designed to help get you ready for the big day. From nutrition info, to training tips, to motivational stories – each post will have valuable info to support your journey, all the way to the Peak!

Morikke Espenhain

When I began to think about participating in Seek the Peak (STP) last year I considered a few things: I can already run 16 km - check! I can climb the Grind – it’s exhausting but manageable. I can climb up to the Peak and back down, no problem. But when I started thinking about combining all those parts together… it just seemed crazy!  So I decided to join the STP training clinic and “think” about doing the actual race. After many weeks of training (up and down many hills) I finally committed to the 4,100ft climb. But, as the run drew closer I realized I needed additional support so I reached out to my closest friends and family to be my cheering squad on race day, to help bring me through the finish line. 

On race day I awoke to a glorious, sunny day. Feeling somewhat anxious and jittery I powered up with a good breakfast and headed for the start.  The flats of Ambleside were filled with nervous and excited racers, each with their own reason for taking on this challenge. I was still in the process of defining my own reason for racing but I’d didn’t have much time to think about; it was go time.

As I started off through the balloon archway I felt good; really good. So good in fact, that I forgot my plan to power-walk the Nancy Greene Way section of the race. Instead I ran it.  It was tough and seemed to go on forever but, I had practiced it many times during training so I knew I could do it. When I entered the Grind section I was tired but still feeling good and slightly ahead of my predicted time. As I started climbing however, things began to change. Not even 5 minutes up those steps and I started to think; I can’t do this, I don’t want to do this any more. But I knew I had to get to the top since going down would be worse, and I couldn’t let down my family and friends waiting at the top. I decided somewhere around the one quarter mark that I would just get through the Grind and then quit. Then I started thinking about my Mom.  She died 7 years ago from a rare form of cancer in her gallbladder.  I thought about how she never quit.  In fact, she never even complained about the pain and struggle she had to endure for an entire year, instead putting on a brave face and tackling her own grind the best she could. So many people are battling cancer and here I am, healthy and strong, participating in this race to help with that fight. It was a humbling thought – one that inspired me to keep climbing

I made it to the top of the Grind filled with renewed hope and a new goal. I was not going to quit, instead I was going to try to beat the time I had set in my head.  So off I ran on very wobbly legs to tackle the Peak. Up and down I went; at this point, longing to see the finish line.  As I rounded the final corner, there were my friends and family cheering me on. Their hoots and holler’s gave me the last bit of energy I needed to sprint across the finish line and into the waiting arms of my husband and my Dad. I remember looking up at my Dad and saying, “that was for Mom”.  I could see the tears of sadness, remembrance and pride in his eyes. My reason for running had become clear out on the course – it was for my Mom and for all the people who battling cancer.  They gave me the strength to keep going.

Now, every time I lace up my runners to hit the trails and roads of North Vancouver, I hope to get better and stronger.  This is my hope for all those battling cancer.  I hope that they too will get better and stronger, ready to seek their next peak.