Ultrarunners and their loved ones put heart and grit into training and racing. Training for a 100-mile race means focusing for months or years on one objective. For Lisa Large, 47, that objective was Orcas 100. When the race was cancelled just a few days before the start, her loved ones magically morphed into race directors to create The Love Train 100 mile race in Victoria, B.C.
On Wednesday, February 6, Large had just finished taco night with her friends and family. She was fuelling and preparing for her 100 mile race on Orcas Island, WA. An avid volunteer for Orcas 100, Large was keen to run the race herself this time. But a violent storm had taken down trees and destroyed a building at the start and finish area. Another storm was due during the race over the weekend. The race was announced cancelled. Large knew it was the right decision, but “she was gutted.”
A few texts later, the Victoria, B.C. trail running community joined forces to create the Love Train 100 mile run in lieu of Orcas 100. Within an hour, Large had thirty volunteers to help pace, crew, and execute this impromptu event. Spearheaded by Kathy MacRae with the collaborative brain power of Lori Herron, Randy Duncan, Andrew Barclay, David Morlor, Jeff Large, and other locals, the team drafted detailed spreadsheets, aid stations, and evacuation areas taking into account the potential for extreme weather. At 7:52 a.m. on Friday February 7, Large began the 100 mile Love Train.
The weather on Friday was not ideal for running on the planned route, which included exposed ridges and mountain tops. After 70K, changes were necessary. Large ran the last 90K in 5K loops on Thetis Lake trails. Large was overwhelmed by the experience. “The high points were many, the best being that any time I wanted to quit, someone new would show up to run a loop with me. The lows were inevitable. The thing that emerged from the whole experience is that people in the trail community are endless wells of love. This was a truly heart opening experience.”
On Sunday February 10, Large completed 160.8K with 5,579 metres of elevation gain in a time of 39 hours and 54 minutes. She was the first place finisher in the Love Train 100. In order to make it official, the Victoria trail running community awarded Large with a locally designed belt buckle. Grit gets ultrarunners to the finish line, but love always wins.