To you all that don’t know me I am William Urton or better known as Wapoose. Endurance sports have always been a part of my life. I can remember my first big endurance event being the 55km Saskaloppet ski race when I was twelve years old. Now twenty-three I continue to push my body’s mental and physical limits. My parents’ avid cross country skiers had me doing regular 10km skis at our Ranch north of Duck Lake by the age of six. I feel from doing endurance based sports for so many years my body starts to crave these physical and mental challenges. The satisfaction gained from pushing your body as far as it can go gives me a high that I have not found with anything else.
(The Urton boys on the way to Grey Owl’s Cabin)
Ben Rempel and I go back a long ways. I can remember our first event together. I believe we were thirteen years old and competing in the Frank Dunn Triathlon. We were both doing the cycling leg which to you who are not familiar is a 63km bike through Waskesiu National Park. From here cycling has been a big part of our friendship. From the annual spring Penticton road bike training camp to battling it out at Canada games to where we are now.
(Very oldschool picture I dug up and scanned onto my computer of Wapoose and I before the road race of the 2005 Canada Summer Games)
(Wapoose hammering at the start of the Canada Games Time Trial)
I have always been into running and started doing ultra type of runs when I was 14 by completing the Grey Owl Run in Waskesiu in five hours. This run is a 45km run through Waskesiu’s wilderness. From this point on ultra running was in my blood.
I told Ben that I would give a post about my most recent “living in the shit” moment. Let me tell you I have never lived in the shit like this before. This was the 2012 Grande Cache North Face Death Race. 125km of single track mountain terrain over 18000 ft of gruelling vertical. I have to admit I felt completely unprepared for this race due to my career of flying Twin Otters in Northern Saskatchewan taking up most of my summertime. Nonetheless I thought I would give it a go and see what my body could pull out.
(Right before the start of the 2012 Death Race)
Leg 1 (19 km of rolling single track trail): Known as one of the easier legs is approx 20km. Ben and I ran most of the time together setting an easy jogging pace. All felt good so far but with 105km to go that does not mean much.
Leg 2 (27 km including 2 mountain summits): This section of the race known as slug fest takes you through creek beds and some of the deepest mud I have run through with two mountain passes to be conquered. About mid way through this stage my body started feeling the previous months of sitting in the cockpit stationary. I could feel slight spasms of cramping that would not subside and pain in my quad’s when descending any hill. Running towards the final stretch before the feed station I was seriously thinking that my body was not going to let me do it this year.
Leg 3 (21 km of rolling technical single and double track trail): Sitting in the feed station I had a stunned look on my face. Scott Cranston and my dad which was my pit crew were shoving salt tablets and Advil down my throat. I sat there for about 10 minutes before saying, “Fuck it I got to get moving.” I think it was more that I was angry at myself that I kept moving. I started off on this stage walking and limping down the hills. Back at the feed station Scott and my dad were talking and saying I think Wapoose is done after this leg. My dad has seen me in many of my races and said he hadn’t seen hurt on my face like that before. About 30 min into this stage I started feeling like I was coming back from the dead and started a slow jog. I was able to run the rest of this leg without stopping right to the next feed station.
(Proof of Wapoose eating Chunky soup, this video is right before Leg 4 from the 2010 Canadian Death Race where he proceeded to set the 5th fastest ascent up Mt. Hamel. Too bad we didn’t have my little brother to videotape this year’s race! Also proof that you don’t need a GPS to run long distances… or even a stop-watch for that matter. Haha.)
Leg 4 (38 km including Mt. Hamel, the definitive mountain summit of the Death Race): Chowing on a filthy can of Chicken noodle soup and a few salt tablets I was thinking holy shit I might be ok. My dad said he thought they would be hauling me out of there by this feed station. Starting off on this 38km leg up Mt. Hamel I was already 70km into the race which had taken me 9 hours. Starting the ascent up Hamel I started feeling the familiar pain that I had felt in the second stage. My legs were tighter than they have ever been and my body felt extremely taxed. This 15 km ascent up Hamel took me 2.5 hours. I felt pumped to be at the top knowing it was mostly downhill and flat towards the fifth stage. Well this all felt awesome until I started descending and realized the uphills were easier on the legs than going down. My quads were on fire and I had a long ways to go. I started walking backwards down the hills to save my legs a bit. I had no idea what to do but keep going. I thought if I could make it to the little feed station 100km in that I could drop out there and catch a ride to town on a little mountain road. It began to get dark out and my head was in a strange place. I felt at peace and kept a steady pace knowing that I just needed to get to that feed station. I finally got there at 10:00pm. When I got there I thought fuck it lets push the envelope a bit more. There was a 5km loop that needed to be completed before starting the 10km descent to the fifth stage. During this loop my body started fading fast. Tripping and falling every 10 min I was starting to feel worried and felt anxiety like I’ve never felt before. I got back to the feed station at 11:00pm. I’m not sure what I was thinking but I decided to attempt the final 10km to the feed station where my dad and Scott were waiting for me. Down this hill I did whatever I could to keep going. Food was not an option due to my stomach being ruined. Knowing that this is all I had in the tank and that I would not be going farther than this I gave it my all. This last 10km took me 2 hours and let me tell you I don’t think I have ever pushed my body so far. My dad and scott being concerned walked down the trail about 1 km to see where I was and found me staggering along to the feed station. I got there sat down and said boys I don’t think I can do anymore. I had reached 105 km by 1:30 in the morning. Being out there for 18 hours my body was totalled. My legs started going into spasms and my dad threw a good pound of A535 on my legs. After about 15 min of sitting there I went to get up to walk to the truck but my legs wouldn’t move so Scott and my dad lifted me up and hauled me into the truck and when we got back to our place hauled me into the trailer.
You would think I would be disappointed with myself but I was amazed at what my body let me do. Thinking I was screwed 40km into the race but yet letting my body take me to 105km gave me great satisfaction. Although I was in pain I thought look at what a person’s body can do if they let it. All the pain I was feeling gave me a high by reminding me that few people get to push their bodies this far.
(Wapoose hammering at a cross-country ski race)
I’m sitting here in La Ronge right now where I live writing this and smiling. None of these memories are bad at all. They may sound gruesome and not enjoyable but because of the person I live off experiences like this. I’m looking at my feet seeing some of the aftermath of this race with a few toenails still wanting to fall off. All I can think of right now is doing it again next year. This story is my definition of “living in the shit”. For those of you who have not lived in it I suggest getting stinky. You won’t regret it. I am William Wapoose Urton and I truly love living in the shit!
(Ben Rempel, Wapoose, and the Herbavoire checking out the course for the Death Race, already can’t wait for next year!)
(Wapooose doing what he does best… ‘Living In The Shit’)