The Lost Soul: Lethbridge Alberta Canada. Fifty K, Hundred K, Hundred Miler. Sept 14th and 15th (Friday and Saturday) Billed as the Toughest Race on the Prairie.
Never let it be said that the ultra runners of Alberta Canada do not give themselves a challenge of the highest degree. They call the Lost Soul 100 Miler the toughest race on the Prairie, and there is not doubt of that-- I can testify to the truth of this claim, and after enduring the course for over 33 hours feel confident that it that it will ultimately be ranked among the toughest 100 milers of North America.
On paper this race is not impressive. First of all the measurements are given in meters, and they just don’t relay height to a denizen of the south like feet. I looked at the total elevation gain and loss and the 3950 number didn’t seem that bad. Anyway how hard could climbing up and down rolling prairie be I reasoned? I had just completed the Teton 100 and that had some real mountains to climb. A prairie run? I arrived regarding it as a tuner for my next 100 miler.
The morning after my arrival I wandered over to the Lethbridge Lodge to check out some of the course as the race’s main aid station is in the Lodge’s parking lot. Well I have to admit it was a bit of a shock when I came out the rear door of the Lodge and wandered toward the river valley that sits at the back of the lot. The first thing that struck me was the incredibly high rail road trestle that spans the valley—a long thin black ribbon of rail supported by a black web of steel girders; a truly amazing and surprisingly beautiful structure. But what had me gulping was its height above the Old Man River that flowed under it deep down in the valley. Looking over the narrow valley I felt a sudden chill and a bit of panic when I realized the length of the valley was not lined with rolling prairie hills but Coulee’s, or as the Spanish would call them Arroyo’s, with deeply weathered sides, up and down which ran some of the steepest looking trails I ever imagined could run through prairie grasses. I stood there suddenly feeling that I had once again been a bit over confident, and had let a slight HURT arrogance get me into a very difficult venture.