The name Elliot Cardin may ring a bell since this young Quebecer from Bromont is one of our elite endurance athletes. Elliot started racing a few years ago and has never given up. Trail running has become a passion for him and today, our Näak ambassador shares with us his best racing memory: his achievement at the Black Canyon Ultra 100k 2020.
Näak : Why did you choose the Black Canyon Ultra?
Elliot Cardin: Training for ultra marathons while working in masonry is far from relaxing. 2019 was a difficult year for me: after being fired and disappointing running performance, I wanted to start 2020 on the right foot. Since being on unemployment from December, I was able to start accumulating mileage and training seriously. I was in super good shape at the beginning of the year, which made me want to compete abroad. I wanted a race with a certain standard of calibre in order to see my level compared to the best.
I quickly came across the 100K in Black Canyon, Arizona. It is one of the four races that offers the possibility of getting an entry for the Western State 100 via a golden ticket. The Western State is like the Super Bowl of trail running in the U.S. and is only possible to participate in via a draw, a selection of the ultra trail world tour or by winning the golden ticket.
This attraction makes the race more popular every year because professionals appear in order to get a ticket. There are two golden tickets available: one for both first and second place for men and women. In short, it was the perfect race that I was looking for but unfortunately the race was sold out... I took a chance, wrote to the organization and asked for a place in the race and fortunately, they agreed to let me in.
"My best racing memory is clearly my finish sprint with Charlie Ware at Black Canyon Ultra 100k this winter." Elliot Cardin
Elliot Cardin: In this 2020 edition, we expected no one other than Hayden Hawks, one of the best American trail runners, to win. Several other big names were also on the list of runners such as Tyler Sigl, Charlie Ware and Mario Mendoza, holder of the 50k treadmill record. To be first or second among these seasoned racers seemed impossible. My goal was just to see where I stood among these great racers; I knew that I barely had a chance of getting the golden ticket.
Before the race
Elliot Cardin : I arrived with my mother five days before the race, which gave me time to explore a bit. My thirst for adventure and exploration made me do some crazy things. I trained all four days at an altitude of over 2000m and two days before the race, I couldn't resist going down into the grand canyon and experiencing the brutal ascent of it.
I panicked a little afterwards: my legs were destroyed. I thought that a good day of recuperation would be enough to freshen my legs for race day, but I was wrong. The day before I made the mistake of putting too much anti-inflammatory cream with capsaicin to try to minimize the damage. My legs got crazy hot for hours when I was supposed to be preparing my gear to go to bed early and limit stress before the race... total failure.
" My thirst for adventure and exploration made me do some crazy things." Elliot Cardin
Elliot Cardin : We departed at 7:00 am. It was 3 degrees outside and I was pretty sore. Regardless of the circumstances, I knew I had to give it my all. As expected, I had a quick start. Pacing at 3:40/km, with Hayden Hawks in the lead, I made sure to stay close to the leaders. For the first twenty kilometers, I was in 6th place. I remained patient; my plan was to attack once I reached the halfway point.
By the thirtieth kilometer, everything was fine: I was well warmed up and felt less aches and pains, but was accidentally misled by a rider behind me. I heard him shout "wrong way" so I stopped and looked further and saw no markings. I turned back and finally see another runner who assured me that I was on the right path and that the other guy had just lost his cell. I now realize that he probably said "NO WAY" and not "WRONG WAY"... cheers to my mediocre English.
That was when I started speeding up even though it was still early. Between the 30th and 60th kilometer, I moved up the ranks and settled in 3rd place. The sensations were very good so I continued to accelerate despite the heat and the climbs that awaited me in the canyon. At 70k, there was still no sign of the 2nd place and I started to suffer from the heat. I felt nauseous and had difficulty eating, but I felt attached like never before to my 3rd place position which would have assured me the golden ticket. Hayden Hawks already secured his place on the Western State with the ultra trail world tour, so the tickets in this case would go to 2nd and 3rd place.
It was only at the penultimate ravito, 5k before the finish line, that I was informed that the 2nd place was close. I gave everything I had to try and close the gap. It was a kilometer from the finish line when I finally saw the second place: Charlie Ware. The race ended in a sprint that I lost to by 8 seconds. Still, it was pretty epic for a 100k finish. It was crazy the amount of joy I felt getting my golden ticket, but even more crazy to know that I was able to compete among the best. I still have a lot more to gain and learn in order to be among the professionals, but to finish 24 minutes behind Hayden Hawks and to have one of the best times on this course (8h19) gave me a good boost of motivation. I could barely imagine getting that golden ticket, but there I stood on the podium.
"That third place is the performance I'm most proud of." Elliot Cardin