It's a tough stage, which takes place at a ski hill, but I do enjoy the course. Well, most of the course.
Here's a rambly course description for you:
Start, run to the first uphill, a long gradual gravel service road that winds up the side of the hill, turning twice, with a fair bit of loose gravel this year and a lot of erosion, so it was a little tricky to find good spots to run near the top of the hill. Once arriving at the top, run straight ahead, then turn right into the first trail section, which starts with a fairly steep sandy downhill. Run across the bottom, then windy your way back up through the trails, pop out the top and head back the way you came, but before reaching the service road, turn right and run straight down a ski hill (something I love to do), across the bottom and over to the bottom of another ski hill, turn and run (or "run") straight up this ski hill. Once reaching the top, run across and down some cinder block steps into another trail section (my favourite part), for some windy single track down, and then back up the hill. Hang a right out of this section and run to another ski hill to run straight down. At the bottom, nip into another trail section. This section is flat, but includes a lot of mountain bike boardwalks, which were missing some boards, some were bouncy, and some were breaking under our feet (I broke one, but luckily it happened when pushing off, not when stepping on the board). After the flat section, it's back up the hill via Goat Trail, out the top, over the top of the hill, and straight down. Hang a left at the bottom of this hill, and run through the start/finish line. That is one loop, so do that another 4 times.
The race went well for me. I ran the first lap quicker than I intended to, but I had been ahead of Angela for about half of the lap and didn't want to give that up too quickly. After the start of the second lap, ran my own race. The quick first lap didn't seem to affect my overall race, so that was good. I still felt strong and was relatively consistent for the remaining 4 laps. My splits were as follows: 31:13, 32:47, 33:24, 33:02, 33:03.
My finish time was 2:43:29, which was over 14 minutes faster than last year! I'm definitely happy about how it went.