Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Envisioning The Possible - The Oracle Trail 2016

Envisioning The Possible - The Oracle Trail Race 2016

What’s your favourite things to do on a frigid winter day?  Curl up with a book?  Have a hot tea near a fire?  Turn on a rerun movie and turn up the furnace?  

Go for a trail run with 149 of your friends?

Wait, what?

Let me ask you this; what stops you?  What lets doubt enter your mind?  What ‘boundaries’ do you allow in your life? When your alarm goes off at stupid o’clock and you have an instant to decide up and out, or back to sleep, what do you think about?  What weighs your decisions?  Is the weather?  How late you were up watching TV the night before?  How much work you have to do? Whether or not your prosthetic leg will rub abrasively against your skin in the cold air?  How long your all terrain wheelchair will hold a charge in the current humidity?  If your guide runner was up all night with food poisoning?  If you could navigate the trees and rocks in the days offered cloud cover?  

Wait, what?

I’ve said this a million times; boundaries are imaginary, they are EXACTLY where we perceive them to be.  If you’ve placed one directly between yourself and the next pushing of your snooze button, I promise, that’s where you’ll find it.  So what’s holding you back?  What boundary or limitation is not serving you?

On February 13 2016, we challenged you to come run with us in Durham Forest and Walker Woods.  Family Day weekend is traditionally the coldest day of the year.  This year was no exception, the weekend previous offering a balmy -7C and the one after a 8C high.  But race day?  

How’s -29C?  Not cold enough to create doubt?  How about adding in a windchill making it -41C?

Approximately 150 people braved the elements and joined the ranks of ‘brave’, ‘stubborn’, ‘audacious’ and ran, shuffled, walked, wheeled the Oracle Trail Race.  This was Envisions first attempt at a fund raiser.  Our goal is simple; create inclusion in sport for all levels of ability.  We hoped at the Oracle Trail Race to create a competitive and fun atmosphere for all.  We had Achilles representatives, Precious Minds representatives, Huskies Special Needs Hockey representatives, a few brave blindfolded runners and a push all terrain wheelchair amongst our participants.  We also had amazing trail runners from the area come join in.

Our day started at 6:30am with a trip to Durham Forest to set up our start / finish line.  Delivery of accessible portapots at 7:30am and parka clad volunteers graced our team to start registration by 8am.  Most of our participants waited for their races to begin in the shelter of their cars.  (Mental note made, indoor shelter would go a long way).  Our early start, for our blindfolded teams and other racers who requested it, began at 9am.  Our 25K began promptly at 9:30am.  The downfall of waiting in warm vehicles until the race start, is you often miss critical race directions.  Our 15k course began at 10am.  And our 5k course (which was run on the more level double wide track) began at 10:30am.  Our kids 1k run had no takers given the days temperatures.  

The trails were in wonderful conditions, the crowds loved the atmosphere.  Even those who shifted off course from the single track onto the 5km mid confusing intersection seemed forgiving of our lack of marshals.  We had lost a number of volunteers last minute given the chill.  We were amazingly lucky to have several fat tire bikers on course to help correct all the runners as the race continued.   Our Aid Stations were overstocked with frozen water and slushy ginger ale and maple syrup shots.  We had wonderful help from the Barrie MEC store, the trail running community came out in droves to assist us.  And gratefully we had St Johns Ambulance there for any cases of frostbite.  

We all rejoiced with warm chilli and a finishers scarf during wrap up.  No one hung around.  it was far too cold.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the day.  The forest was beautiful.  The other'abled athletes that came out all expressed their enthusiasm for being able to participate.  This is the piece Envisions is trying to install in mainstream sport.  Inclusion requires a little shifting of thought, a little move towards more accessible, a huge jump in understanding... and as my dear friend says..."There's always a way to participate"

We hope to make the Oracle Trail Race an annual event.  Thank you to our sponsors for their involvement!  Thank you to our volunteers for freezing their fingers off all day.  Thank you to the brave souls who came out to run one frozen day in February.

Please share our video... and together we can change the shape of dialogue around Disability and Sport.  (THANK YOU LISA FOR FILMING!)The Oracle Trail 2016

ps.  The part that perhaps you missed on race day that still makes me giggle.  About 10 minutes into the 5k event, i headed out with Thom to walk the 5k course backwards, to try and see where the long coursers were being misled.  Another 10 minutes later Thom was called back to assist at the start finish.  This left me (by choice) to continue my journey along the course in reverse direction.  Thankfully I had spent the day before marking the course with friends and knew the frequency of the flags.  The orange to me is invisible and at several turns I could be found stumbling along the edge of the trail on all fours feeling whether that was a flag or a twig.  Grateful my phone didn't freeze so I could keep in contact with the team all over the course.  However.. it wasn't lost on me that alone on course I was still at the mercy of the 'limitations' I put myself within.  And yes... I did eventually find my way out.  Effectively sweeping the course at the same time.