Agassiz trail runner Marina Striker continues pushing herself to the next level.
Striker was set for the ultra-race Fat Dog 120 last month, but the event was canceled. Instead, she created her own route in the Chilliwack area that would be of a similar difficulty to challenge herself, calling it “Marina’s Colossal 100” in a Facebook post.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but wow, I’m feeling super perplexed by how this whole run just came together,” Striker said.
Striker prepared for the 100-mile journey by training with 80-kilometre runs. She mentally broke the route down into four chunks. Her goal was to finish a 100-mile race in 32 to 34 hours, and with her pacers, supplies and tracker, she was set.
The weather help up nicely for the weekend of the run, Striker said. Her run began at 5:30 a.m. that Saturday and would take her on a 100-mile loop to and from Vedder Park in Chilliwack.
The route started out with some of her favourite scenery on the Mount Mercer Trail (rated “black diamond” or very difficult by Trailforks.com).
“Continuous, stellar, panoramic views of the Cheam range,” Striker said. “If you’ve never done it, you need to! It’s beautiful.”
Her goal was to summit the Mount McGuire trail (also rated very difficult) by 6 p.m. that day, and she made it half an hour ahead. The race continued into the night when Striker hit a proverbial wall around the 104-kilometre mark, which placed heron the way to Windy Knob (rated very difficult).
“No food was appealing anymore and I knew deep inside this wasn’t going to be good,” Striker said. “I’d like to believe I was loud enough to scare all the wildlife as we never did see any red eyes at all during the night, but then, I don’t like to glance around anyhow in case I do see some.”
She tried to take a bit of nutritional gel, but this didn’t sit well with her. She rallied after a few minutes, but there was still a literal and figurative uphill battle ahead.
Striker was concerned about the Windy Knob area and knew it was a gamble to go in “without doing the homework,” but she and her pacer team kept it up until they reached their breakfast rest stop.
After 20 minutes of rest and replenishment, the group was off again.
“The night was done, and the new, sunny day definitely gave me a hard reset,” Striker recalled. She came through the Cultus Lake area on her final stretch. Though the stretch leading up to Columbia Valley Road was smooth sailing, heading for the finish, Striker said, “Felt like the longest 800-metre stretch.”
With tears of joy and celebratory champagne, Striker finished her 100-mile journey at about 31.5 hours – half an hour faster than her best estimated time.
“I was ecstatic to finish under my predicted time I cried as I finished,” Striker recalled. “Tears of joy, tears of emotion, accomplishment, and serious sleep deprivation!”
Striker is an accomplished trail runner with dozens of accolades to her name, including top female in the International Strava Elevation Challenge (April 2019), Second place female finisher in the Fat Dog 120 (Aug. 2019 at 35:45 hours) and 1st place female in the Frost 50 in Manning Park (Sept. 2017).
Looking ahead, Striker’s name has been drawn with 349 others to compete in the HURT (Hawaii Ultra Running Team) 100, a 100-mile race through the jungles of Hawaii scheduled for Jan. 15, 2022.