Running the Bruce Trail End to End: Beaver Valley Section

I’ve now completed 7 sections of the Bruce Trail (there are 9)!

What’s the Bruce Trail? According to the Bruce Trail Conservancy website, the Bruce Trail is “Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath. Running along the Niagara Escarpment in southern Ontario from Niagara to Tobermory, the Bruce Trail spans more than 890 km of main Trail and over 400 km of associated side trails.”

Such pretty creeks and waterfalls in this section.

BEAVER VALLEY SECTION

Started the Beaver Valley section: September 14, 2019

Finished the Beaver Valley section: October 31, 2020

Run details

September 14, 2019 – Beaver Valley Ski Club to Beaver Valley Ski Club as part of the Happy Trails Falling Water marathon – covered Wodehouse Karst to Grey County Road 13 – 42k (with Kris)

September 19, 2020 – Maple Lane in Ravenna to Kolapore Grey County Road 2 – 24k (with Kris)

October 3, 2020 – Kolapore Grey County Road 2 to Grey County Road 13 – 30k (with Kris)

October 17, 2020 – Wodehouse Karst Management Area to Webwood Falls Nature Reserve – 25k (with Kris)

October 31, 2020 – Webwood Falls Nature Reserve to Walter’s Falls side trail – 24k (with Kris)

Unique “stepped” creek.

Run stats

  • # runs: 5
  • # solo runs: 0
  • # runs with my husband Alasdair: 0
  • # runs with friends: 5 (Kris!)
  • shortest run: 24k
  • longest run: 42k
  • average length of run: 29k

Run highlights

Most difficult day: The most difficult day was definitely the day my friend Kris and I covered 42k of road and trail as part of the Happy Trails Falling Water marathon. We ran (and walked!) about 31k of the main trail that day, with the rest of the race being on side trails. It was our first time racing together, and a first trail marathon for each of us. Read all about it and see pictures here.

Wildlife encounters: Other than cows, horses, birds, squirrels and dogs, we spotted a grouse in this section. And speaking of cows, we climbed a stile into a farmer’s field and were immediately approached by a very vocal cow who didn’t seem too happy to see us walking through the field. We had the cows approaching from the left and an electric fence on the right. Some kind words and a steady pace got us to the stile at the other end of the field!

One annoyed cow!

Coolest plant matter: fungi galore!

Favourite part of this section (which is one of my favourite sections so far): the waterfalls! I loved stumbling across so many unexpected cute little waterfalls, almost all of which we got to enjoy completely on our own.

Fall splendour: I covered this section entirely in the fall, with some of the lookouts providing amazing views of changing tree colours.

Some tiny flowers were still holding on for dear life…in the frost.

Best trail snack: a pear on the forest floor!

Yum.

Something I’ll remember this section for: the elevation changes! Up, down, up, down, and repeat.

Thank you volunteers for keeping us safe!

Progress so far: I was surprised to discover that I am now about 3/4 of the way along the trail!

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Running the Bruce Trail End to End: Blue Mountains Section

I’ve now completed 6 sections of the Bruce Trail (there are 9)!

What’s the Bruce Trail? According to the Bruce Trail Conservancy website, the Bruce Trail is “Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath. Running along the Niagara Escarpment in southern Ontario from Niagara to Tobermory, the Bruce Trail spans more than 890 km of main Trail and over 400 km of associated side trails.”

The forest felt a little spooky on this wet, overcast day.
Giant puffball.

BLUE MOUNTAINS SECTION

Started the Blue Mountains section: October 19, 2019

Finished the Blue Mountains section: December 8, 2019

Run details

October 19, 2019 – 20th Sideroad/Prince of Wales Road to Lavender cemetery – 18 km (with Kris)

October 27, 2019 – Lavender cemetery to Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area – 22.1 km (with Kris)

November 30, 2019 – Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area to Nottawasaga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve – 21.4 km (with Kris)

December 8, 2019 – Nottawasaga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve to Maple Lane in Ravenna – 25.2 km (with Kris)

Run stats

  • # runs: 4
  • # solo runs: 0
  • # runs with my husband Alasdair: 0
  • # runs with friends: 4 (Kris)
  • shortest run: 18 km
  • longest run: 25.2 km
  • average length of run: 21.7 km

Run highlights

Near the Nottawasaga Lookout Provincial Nature Reserve

Prettiest sunrise: The sunrise was so pretty that I had to pull over and take a picture. This was just a couple of kilometres from our end point for the run, where we met to leave one car – not too far from Maple Lane in Ravenna.

Barred owl in the centre of the picture (see brown blob!).

Wildlife sightings: A missed blaze and an accidental short trek off-trail near the Nottawasaga Bluffs meant that my friend Kris and I were led right to a Barred Owl! It was my first time seeing one in the wild (though I have heard many while backcountry camping), and first time ever seeing an owl while I was running (or walking!) – once I saw one while in a moving vehicle. It was beautiful, and had a huge wingspan. Sadly, we couldn’t get too close for a picture, but I promise you, the owl is in the picture! 

Whee!

Most non-running fun/neat finds: Not far from one of the ski lifts at Blue Mountain we found a rope swing, which just begged to be used!

Best natural art: I spotted this on the side of the road as we ran by on a very windy day!

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Race report: Raid the Hammer 2019

This year’s Don’t Get Lost Raid the Hammer was to be my first time doing the “full” Raid – in previous years, I have always done the “half”. It was also the first time that Rebecca and I would race with Heidi (in preparation for Wilderness Traverse 2020). However, Rebecca was sick on race morning, so our team of 3 became a team of 2, which meant we weren’t able to do the full Raid and be included in the official results. We had two options: 1) full Raid (unranked), or 2) half Raid (ranked). We chose #1!

We picked up our race maps at St. Ann Catholic Elementary School in Hamilton (3 of 4 maps – one would be given out during the race), and planned our route. Given that I ran the Happy Trails The Beav 25k trail race the day before, we planned to run as smart a race as we could, nailing the navigation to make up for my tired legs!

Pre-race with Heidi.

Map 1

Matrix

When the race began, Heidi and I took off in different directions. In the Matrix, teammates could stick together or split up to find the 10 checkpoints (A to I). This section could be done at the beginning of the race, at the end of the race, or a mix of the two. We planned to do it at the beginning. We decided that Heidi would do the 4 controls north of Wilson Street, and I would do the 6 to the south, with slightly less running. At these checkpoints, we had to answer a question about the feature that was there (e.g. number on hydro pole, name of person on bench). With the exception of the first one, where I ended up on the wrong side of the creek to start with, I found all of these easily. No compass was required. I was hoping to beat Heidi to our meeting point so that I could rest briefly, but she beat me by less than a minute!

After running along the Bruce Trail over Highway 403, we were onto map 2.

Maps 1 and 2 (of 4).

Map 2

Game of Thorns (CP1 to CP2)

In this section, we needed our compass, and an ability to scour a forest for “a distinct tree”. We found the controls, but none of the trees jumped out at us!

Blackout (CP3 to CP8)

In this section, trails were removed from the map, but we were able to use some anyway to find the controls. Our navigation continued to be bang on!

Maps 3 and 4 (of 4).

Map 3

Gnarly Run and Photo Shoot (CP9)

It was a 3k run along the Bruce Trail to Sherman Falls, where we would be photographed with our teammates (instead of inserting our SI stick into an SI reader).

A very springy bridge, which felt super wonky when 2 people ran on it at the same time!
At Sherman Falls.

Dundas Valley Traverse I (CP10 to CP11)

From here we headed into the Dundas Valley Conservation Area, where we found CP10 and then CP11 (the aid station). We each had to show that we were carrying a whistle and an emergency blanket, and then we were given map 4. We grabbed some of the snacks at the aid station, and then studied the map briefly to decide which 5 of the 7 controls we wanted to get.

Map 4

Scramble (CP12 to CP 18)

We opted for 18 and then 15, which were just off a main trail down steep hills. From there we ran along trails for a short while before crossing a log over a creek. While we managed to stay dry, we found out after the race that at least one person went for an unintentional swim here!

We climbed yet another steep hill to find 14 – in fact, this entire map involved lots of ups and downs. My tired legs were slow on the uphills!

From the time we hit 17 until almost the end of the race, we kept running into the same team at the controls, though we would choose different routes and yet still arrive almost at the same time.

After control 12 we looked for the least steep part of the hill to climb down to the creek, and then climbed up the hills on the other side. We then followed a trail all the way back to the aid station. We handed in our hand-punched map, ate some more aid station goodies, and then went back to map 3.

Map 3 (continued)

Dundas Valley Traverse II (CP20 to 24)

To get to CP 20, we opted to run a longer distance along trails, because bushwhacking directly there would have involved significant ups and downs, and more potential to get lost. From there, we again set out on trails, but planned to bushwhack a couple of times on our way to CP 21, down a steep hill, through a creek, up the steep bank on the other side, and then later, following a contour line and keeping a creek in sight. It worked!

Then it was a trail run to the “brawn” or “brain” section, where we had to choose which CP22 to do (climb all the way up the hill for an easy to find control, or half way up for a harder to find one). We chose the latter.

At this point, we knew that we had just 2 more controls to find before a 2k run to the finish line.

After CP23, we spotted the race photographer at CP24, and then it was a final push to the finish line!

Heidi making sure I’m still with her!
At this point, I had covered 51k in about the last 28 hours.
Just a 2k run left!

Unfortunately, the 2k run back was a net uphill. My legs were pretty tired at this point, 26k into the race, so I had to take some walking breaks!

But after 5 hours, 2 minutes and 55 seconds, Heidi and I crossed the finish line! We had covered 28k, and 1400m of elevation gain.

Post-race!

We worked really well together, and our navigation was near perfect! It was super fun! I’m looking forward to racing with Heidi again. And look out Tree Huggers, we’re coming for you!!

Our race route – 28k through Ancaster.

After the race, it was time for some well deserved food! Yum!

Delicious post-race food from Johnny Blonde food truck.

Race results:

  • Time: 5:02:55
  • Placing: Unranked, since we were a team of 2, but had we been a team of 3 females, we would have been 2nd! Woot!

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Race report: The Beav 25k trail race 2019

The 2019 edition of The Beav 25k trail race put on by Happy Trails kicked off a big weekend of racing for me, with a 25-30k adventure race on the schedule for the next day (Don’t Get Lost Raid the Hammer).

To avoid my right knee acting up (which I’ve been doing physio for since the Falling Water marathon), I set a blanket down in the gravel parking lot and rolled my quad out, then used a massage ball on my IT band.

Pre-race with Rebecca.

This race starts and ends at Hilton Falls Conservation Area in Milton. It’s a mixture of Bruce Trail, Bruce Trail side trails, and other trails just outside the conservation area. There is single track trail, double track, mud, and very technical rocky terrain, with potentially lethal drop-offs (not quite as dramatic as that sounds)!

In fact, this year’s race occurred during the legal bow hunt and shotgun hunt, so pre-race we were warned that if we were wearing a hat with antlers on it, we might want to remove it!

Rebecca and I decided to run the race together. Neither of us wanted to go too hard knowing that we had another race the next day!

[Photo by Sue Sitki Photography]

After a bit of a conga line at the start of the race (climbing the biggest hill of the entire course), runners spread out quite quickly, and Rebecca and I were running alone at times. At 4.5k we hit the first aid station, and at 8k the second. There were lots of sweet and salty snacks, water, Skratch, and other drinks. From here we set out on a 9k loop on the Beaver Dam trail.

Such a pretty forest! The fallen leaves made rocks and roots hard to spot, but we managed to stay upright.

Somewhere around 10k, Rebecca began pulling away from me. It was getting harder and harder to keep up. I could see her ahead for quite a while, but eventually, I lost her.

One of my favourite parts of the course is the single track section in this loop, which looks like it would be super fun to ride!

When I returned to the aid station at the end of the 9k loop (and 17k into the race), Rebecca was there waiting for me.

At some point I accidentally kicked a rock and my calf very briefly cramped.

[Photo by Sue Sitki photography]

We ran the rest of the race together. At the final aid station (also the 4.5k aid station), volunteers were making s’mores on a campfire for runners, but at that point I just wanted to keep running. I would have loved one after the race though!

As one runner said near the end of the race, “hardest 3k ever”. It’s amazing how far one kilometre can seem when your legs are tired and you just want to be done! In this section, my right calf started cramping off and on.

In the last 500m of the race, we climbed a stile.

We were so close to the finish line! My left calf decided to start cramping too, but my right calf went crazy in the last 200-300m. I managed to continue running and hit the finish line in 3:13:55, a little more than a minute faster than the 2018 race.

Awesome race hoodie and race medal.

The post-race cup of noodle soup went down nicely!

Race course starting and ending at Hilton Falls Conservation Area.

I was relieved to not have knee issues during the race. I felt it briefly at 14k, and that was pretty much it!

Thank you Happy Trails for another great race!

Race stats:

  • Time: 3:13:55
  • Placing women 40-59: 17/66
  • Placing all women: 26/90
  • Placing all runners: 75/162

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Running the Bruce Trail End to End: Dufferin Hi-Land Section

I’ve now completed 5 sections of the Bruce Trail (there are 9)!

What’s the Bruce Trail? According to the Bruce Trail Conservancy website, the Bruce Trail is “Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath. Running along the Niagara Escarpment in southern Ontario from Niagara to Tobermory, the Bruce Trail spans more than 890 km of main Trail and over 400 km of associated side trails.”

DUFFERIN HI-LAND SECTION

Started the Dufferin Hi-Land section: June 3, 2019

Finished the Dufferin Hi-Land section: October 19, 2019

Lush green of a June forest.

Run details

June 3, 2019 – Hockley Road to Highway 89 – 25k (solo)

June 29, 2019 – Highway 89 to 20 Sideroad/Prince of Wales Road – 27.4k (with Kris)

October 19, 2019 – 20 Sideroad/Prince of Wales Road to 2k north of the Mulmur-Nottawasaga Townline parking and back to the parking by the cemetary – 18k (with Kris)

Climbing a stile.

Run stats

  • # runs: 3
  • # solo runs: 1
  • # runs with my husband Alasdair: 0
  • # runs with friends: 2 (Kris!)
  • shortest run: 18k
  • longest run: 27.4k
  • average length of run: 21.1k

Run highlights

Perfect running conditions: On June 3 the ground was almost completely dry, there were no bugs, the sun was shining, the wind was blowing, and the temperature was a comfortable 15C or so!

Wrong turns: My friend Kris and I were clearly too engrossed in conversation to follow the blazes. We missed trail turns a couple of times, running a little more than we needed to!

Pretty valley!

Best post-run cooling station: The little waterfall at 20 Sideroad/Prince of Wales Road! We doused our faces with cold water. So refreshing. 

Most gorgeous fall colours: Starting around 8 AM, it was around -2C on October 19 at 20 Sideroad/Prince of Wales Road. The frost just added to the beautiful fall colours!

Love those fall colours!

Wildlife sightings: The most memorable wildlife sighting in this section of the Bruce Trail was a Great Crested Flycatcher – I had no idea what kind of bird it was when I spotted it, but found out through some google searching. I also sought confirmation from other members of the Bruce Trail Facebook group.

Great Crested Flycatcher!

Single vehicle run: My husband dropped me just south of Hockley Valley and then parked at my end point just south of Boyne Valley Provincial Park, and then while I ran 25k, he biked and then ran, with me picking him up at his end point. Most of the time, my runs have involved a running companion and 2 cars.

Neat finds:  A Bruce Trail log book!

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Race report: Bruce Peninsula Multisport Race Long Course 2019

“Let the waters of Georgian Bay be calm.” In the months, days and weeks leading up to the Bruce Peninsula Multisport Race, my longest solo race to date, this was my biggest hope for race morning. I knew that if I could get through the 16k kayak, I should be able to complete the rest of the race (a 32k mountain bike ride, 8k trail run, 24k mountain bike ride, and then 16k trail run) within the 12 hour time limit. It wouldn’t be easy, but I thought it was doable (after doing some math with the time cut-offs), even though this would be my first time racing the long course (I did the short course in 2017 and 2018 in a team of 2 females). I might be chasing the time cut-offs, but I was hopeful that I could do it. This was my main goal for the day – finish within the 12 hour time limit.

The 2018 edition of the long course race saw many kayaks flipping in choppy waters. And while I did get kayak training in before the race, none of it involved big waves. Given that I used to whitewater kayak, big waves shouldn’t really scare me, but I wasn’t quite sure how well I’d do climbing back into a kayak in the middle of Georgian Bay!

Friday night race check-in and gear drop

Here I am front right with my bike checking in with 2 volunteers.

On the Friday night, I went through the check-in process at the Wiarton arena, picking up my race kit in the process (which included a race buff, a pair of compression socks, and race stickers to put on various stuff). I verified with volunteers that I had the mandatory gear, left my bike to be loaded onto a truck, and left the kayak I would be using (which belonged to the friend of a friend) and most paddling gear to be transported to the race start.

First time camping right on the Bruce Trail! See the white blazes on the tree. That’s Georgian Bay in the background.

Saturday – race day!

My race day 4 AM alarm was a rude awakening after a very short sleep in my tent. Loud non-racing neighbours at the Bluewater Park Campground in Wiarton (where the race would end) kept me awake, despite me wearing earplugs. Lesson learned. My 5 minute walk to the arena and busses didn’t make up for my lack of sleep!

Just before 5 AM – and before the sun was up – I boarded a school bus with my kayak paddle and lots of other racers!

Once at the race site, I was relieved to see that the water didn’t look too bad at all! No whitecaps! I was feeling better about the paddle segment already.

Sun rising on Georgian Bay.

I found a bush to pee in, and then got in a lineup for the sole portapotty when I learned there was one (it was still dark when we arrived and I didn’t see it). I was in the line when race organizers told us to start unloading the kayaks from the trailers. I didn’t leave the line! Later I found my kayak at the water’s edge, got everything organized, put my PFD on, and then listened to the pre-race briefing. We were told – in no uncertain terms – that we could face bears, snakes, and steep cliffs during the race, and that no one was making us do the race! We could skip the paddle and hop on our bikes when the first racers started biking. We could quit the race at any time.

16k kayak

When it was time to get into the kayaks, racer #41 helped me by holding the kayak while I got in, and then pushing me out into deeper water. Thank you again!

I’m on the far left.

I chatted with other racers while we waited for the race to start. Somehow I ended up waiting near the front of all the racers, which wasn’t where I wanted to be! I knew I wouldn’t be one of the faster paddlers. Thankfully, I managed to drop back a bit before the race began.

I’m on far left on the bottom.

On the count of “3, 2, 1, risk!” (no kidding), the race began, and I managed to avoid the bumper boats going on around me. Apparently one boat did flip, but I didn’t know that until I saw a picture after the race.

The kayak leg started with a 3k paddle to a volunteer standing on a dock where we had to call out our bib #. Next we paddled another 5k to the turnaround point.

Love this pic of me paddling as the sun was rising!

At times on the 1st half of the paddle I had trouble keeping the boat straight, having to continually paddle only on one side. When I made the turn at the half-way point (after around 1 hour 2 minutes), I thought, “Wow! It’s easier going this way.” But it didn’t take long to realize I was wrong. While the kayak tracked better on the way back, I was actually paddling into the wind. I was tiring and my butt fell asleep, so the 2nd half of the paddle was actually harder! I was also so thirsty, but didn’t want to stop paddling to take a sip from my water bottle. I did drink eventually. At times there were pretty big waves coming from multiple directions at once. I tried to straighten my legs and shift around, but nothing could fix my numb butt!

There were 10 or so kayaks behind me, including at least one tandem. I paddled back to the volunteer on the dock, and then with 3k to go, I headed for the take-out. This part seemed to take forever. I was so ready to be done the paddle. By this time, I also really had to pee!

After a total of around 2 hours and 25 minutes, I was done the paddle. The awesome volunteers held the boat while I got out, then took it away, making sure I had whatever I needed from it (I had to grab my mandatory gear, which included my first aid kit).

Getting gear out of the kayak while a volunteer holds it.

In transition I used the portapotty, ate, put my bike shoes and helmet on, put my paddling gear in “Bag A” (which would be transported to the finish line), grabbed food from Bag A and put it in my bike frame bag, and set out for my first ride of the day!

32k mountain bike leg

The bike started out okay, on a country road. But before long, we turned into a trail. From there the ride was a mix of road (paved and gravel) and trail, with the most technical riding I’ve ever done. There were rocks, roots, logs, mud, steep hills, and combinations of these things all at once. Not too far into the ride I realized I was carrying too much water in my camelbak (too heavy!), so I stopped and dumped some out. Much better. For most of this leg, I felt like I was riding alone. At times I could see someone ahead of me or behind me, which was reassuring when I wasn’t sure I was going the right way and I spotted another racer ahead (or someone followed me).

At one point, I noticed that the quick release on my rear tire was loose, so I tightened it. Later, on the last, steepest descent, which I was walking my bike down, I heard a noise, and noticed that my rear wheel wasn’t turning. I lifted the back of my bike up, and the wheel fell off!! Thankfully, it happened while I was walking my bike. I tried to get the wheel back into place but wasn’t having any luck. Thankfully, another racer appeared at the top of the hill, and very graciously stopped to help me (THANK YOU AGAIN!!!). Two others stopped and helped too, racer #57 and someone I knew, Anne. I was very lucky to have help.

After we all started moving again, the other woman (not Anne) said that she didn’t think we would meet the cut-off to be able to do the first run segment. I was surprised, because it felt like I had been doing really well. But the technical nature of the ride meant that it had taken me a while to do it – around 2 hours and 25 minutes!

I reached the transition area before the cut-off, but one of the race organizers told me that to maximize my chance of completing the entire course, he recommended that I shorten the first run from 8k to 4k (or to whatever I wanted). He said that the time cut-offs get more and more aggressive as the race goes on. I understood that the second ride was more technical, so I decided that it would be better to put any extra time I had into the ride rather than into an 8k run.

Before setting out on the run, I ate food from my Bag B, drank gatorade set up at a little table, and topped up the water bottle on my bike (which I added a Nuun tablet to).

4k trail run

So I set out to run 2k in and 2k out. It was on the Bruce Trail, which had ups and downs and twists and turns. I walked the steepest hills, and arrived back at the transition area well before the cut-off for the next mountain bike leg (the run took me around 46 minutes). I packed by Bag B into a van, so that it would be waiting for me at the next transition area.

24k mountain bike leg

I was a little concerned about this second bike leg, given that it was supposedly going to be even more technical! However, it didn’t turn out like that at all. Plus, I rode more aggressively and got off my bike less. I’m still not experienced (or confident!) enough on my mountain bike to know what it can handle, and what I can handle! But I tried to stay clipped in as much as I possibly could. On one of the trail sections that had lots of small rocks that I had to manoeuvre around, I made a tight turn and to my horror spotted a garter snake right in my path. Unfortunately, I rode right over it. “Oh, buddy!” I said. I hope he survived, but I couldn’t turn back to look or I’d crash my bike!

Somewhere near the end I was sure I had gone the wrong way. I hadn’t seen race markers for a while (the course was very well marked), though I didn’t want to turn around because I would have to go back up a steep hill… I wanted to be sure I was off course. Then I spotted 2 volunteers and was so relieved!! I have to say that the race volunteers, from those at race registration to those on the course were amazing!! Thank you everyone!!

In this bike leg, I passed 2 dogs off leash – thankfully they left me alone, but one racer wasn’t so lucky. I heard at the next transition that one of the dogs had bitten his tire! Once again, I arrived with lots of time to spare before the cut-off. I had some more food, applied more sunscreen, and set out for the finish line! This bike leg took me around 1 hour 50 minutes.

16k trail run leg

I was not familiar with the first 9k of this run segment, but had run the final 7k twice before as part of the short course race. I asked one of the organizers at the transition area what to expect, and he gave me a run-down. It turns out the 16k was a mix of Bruce Trail and side trail, road, farmer’s field, and circular stairs. Much of it runs along the edge of the escarpment overlooking Georgian Bay. There was a net downhill, but lots of little ups and downs. It was also in the last few km’s along the Bruce Trail that I encountered the most non-racers I saw all day.

My 16k “run” was a run/walk mix.

Unfortunately, for the last 30 minutes or more of the run, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had to pee, despite stopping to pee several times! It was rather annoying.

It turns out my fastest km on this run segment was the last (it was on a paved road and then a path past my tent in Bluewater Park). My legs felt good – my cardio was the limiting factor. This run leg took me nearly 2 1/2 hours.

After 10 hours 20 minutes and 43.3 seconds, I crossed the finish line!

Done!

I was relieved to be done, and so happy with how my race went. I didn’t care that I ran 4k less than I was supposed to, and that officially I would be disqualified from the race. I felt that I had made the right decision in the moment, to shorten the run to make sure I wasn’t stopped later in the course and not permitted to continue. Maybe if I had run the 8k I would have made the cut-offs, but who knows?

It was a tough race, but I’ll be back. I’m looking forward to completing the full course.

Thanks Kelly for the pic!

After a veggie burger and chocolate milk, I watched the rest of the awards (they had started before I finished the race), and then headed over to the arena to get my gear, which had been transported from various points on the race course. I had initially planned to camp again that night, but given my horrible sleep pre-race, I decided to drive home where I knew I would be undisturbed.

Thank you Peninsula Adventure Sports Association for an awesome race!!

Race results

The winner finished in 6 hours and 32 minutes. The winning female finished in 8 hours and 5 minutes. Only 5 of 11 women finished the full course. See below for more stats!

  • # racers who started the race: 67
  • # racers who finished the race: 54
  • # racers who were disqualified (including me): 11
  • # racers who did not finish: 2
  • # women who started the race: 11
  • # women who finished the race: 5
  • # women who were disqualified (including me): 6

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Running the Bruce Trail End to End: Caledon Hills Section

I’ve now completed 4 sections of the Bruce Trail (there are 9)!

What’s the Bruce Trail? According to the Bruce Trail Conservancy website, the Bruce Trail is “Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath. Running along the Niagara Escarpment in southern Ontario from Niagara to Tobermory, the Bruce Trail spans more than 890 km of main Trail and over 400 km of associated side trails.”

Taking a well-deserved snack break on a stile.

CALEDON SECTION

Started the Caledon section: April 22, 2019

Finished the Caledon section: June 3, 2019

Run details

April 22, 2019 – Silver Creek Conservation Area to Forks of the Credit – 22.9k (solo)

May 12, 2019 – Forks of the Credit to Finnerty Sideroad – 22.7k

May 18, 2019 – Finnerty Sideroad to Hockley Road – 27.3k (solo)

June 3, 2019 – Hockley Road to Highway 89 – 25k (solo)

Run stats

  • # runs: 4
  • # solo runs: 3
  • # runs with my husband Alasdair: 0 (but we did leapfrog each other on the trail!)
  • # runs with friends: 1 (Laura!)
  • shortest run: 22.7k
  • longest run: 27.3k
  • average length of run: 24.5k
With Laura!

Run highlights

Spring flowers: In this section I first saw spring flowers on the trail.

Most hilly: My run from Finnerty Sideroad to Hockley Road was most definitely the hilliest part! Lots of stairs too.

Scariest moment: The few seconds it took me to fall hard on both knees. And then I had to run another 10k!

Great Crested Flycatcher (a new bird for me!)

Wildlife sightings: Scarlet Tanager, Great Crested Flycatcher, porcupine, hairy coo!

Porcupine – my first on the trail!

Favourite run: My run from just south of Hockley Valley to just south of Boyne Valley Provincial Park – the ground was almost completely dry, there were no bugs, the sun was shining, the wind was blowing, and the temperature was a comfortable 15C or so. I scared 4 turkey vultures out of the woods, and couldn’t identify a large animal that ran off the trail into the woods later – maybe a turkey. I saw a Great Crested Flycatcher (had never heard of one before that day), and then finished the Caledon section of the trail!

Most memorable encounter with other hikers/runners: I met Christopher L from the Bruce Trail Facebook group, who is also working on completing the entire trail from south to north. I had seen his posts on the group, then he recognized me one day on the trail just south of Hockley Valley. Plus we randomly colour coordinated outfits, so there’s that too.

Christopher L!

Neat finds:  Cheltenham Badlands – represents geological processes that have occurred over the last 450 million years

Roads: The Caledon section of the trail had a lot of road running. I’d rather be in the woods, but the road made for easier running.

Green: This section brought the end of snow and the beginnings of new growth in the forest!

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Race report: 5 Peaks Rattlesnake Point Enduro Course (12.7k)

Reading the course description for the 5 Peaks Rattlesnake Point Enduro Course (12.7k), I had visions of non-stop rocks, roots and hills. Thankfully, it didn’t turn out quite like that!

Race kit.

After arriving at Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area in Milton and picking up my race kit, I sat in my van and read for a little bit. But I was so tired, I decided to nap in the back! I’ve never done that pre-race before. I was afraid that I would sleep through my 2 alarms, but thankfully I didn’t. However, when I woke up, there were no fewer than 40 people in line for the portapotties! In fact, by the time I got through the line-up (the 2nd time), I had missed the wave 4 start I was planning to join. It didn’t matter – the race organizers were trying to spread people out to avoid bottlenecks on the trail, so I just started in the next wave (we were supposed to choose a wave based on our 5k time).

The race began and we set out on the grass, then on a trail which turned into a rocky, root-covered disaster waiting to happen. You definitely had to pay attention to every step. Runners were clumped up for a while, but eventually everyone spread out.

Having given blood 5 days prior to the race, I wasn’t expecting too much of my cardio. My plan was to just “run” rather than “race”. I was tempted a few times to stop and take pictures of the pretty views, but opted not to.

I enjoyed the variety of the route, which included boardwalk, single-track, hills, and of course plenty of rocks and roots. I only kicked one, so I fared well. There were sections that were quite steep, and some that were too rocky to run up (in my opinion!).

At one point, after power-walking my way up a steep, very rocky section, I caught another runner and passed him, at which point he said, “What, did you take an escalator up or something?!”

For a while I ran and chatted with another runner, but eventually passed her. There were a couple of aid stations on the course, but I was carrying my own water so I didn’t need to stop. The 5 Peaks series is now cup free, so you have to carry something if you want water at the aid stations. Some runners carried very small reusable cups.

Tripping hazards!

In the end, I finished the 12.4k course (according to my Garmin) in a time of 1:34:37, or 7:27 min/km.

[Photo by Lisa]

In the line-up for food, I heard a runner ask the volunteers if they had any mustard. “For your orange?” one asked? Nope – he said it was good for lactic acid build-up and he just eats it on his own! That was a new one for me!

Race stats:

  • Time: 1:34:37 (7:27 min/km)
  • Women 40-49: 29/64
  • All women: 64/165
  • All runners: 196/324

This was a really well organized and run race – I’ll be back!

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Running the Bruce Trail End to End: Toronto Section

I’ve now completed 3 sections of the Bruce Trail (there are 9)!

What’s the Bruce Trail? According to the Bruce Trail Conservancy website, the Bruce Trail is “Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath. Running along the Niagara Escarpment in southern Ontario from Niagara to Tobermory, the Bruce Trail spans more than 890 km of main Trail and over 400 km of associated side trails.”

TORONTO SECTION

Started the Toronto section: December 8, 2018

Finished the Toronto section: April 22, 2019

Run details

  • December 8, 2018 – Crawford Lake, Milton to Hilton Falls Conservation Area, Milton – 13k (to just north of the northern end of the Iroquoia section)
  • January 25, 2019 – Hilton Falls Conservation Area, Milton 5k north towards Speyside and back again – 10k (solo)
  • March 3, 2019 – Scotsdale Farm, Georgetown, to Silver Creek Conservation Area and back again – 11k (solo)
  • March 8, 2019 – Speyside south to Hilton Falls, and then north past Speyside to 17 Side Road – 18.3k (solo)
  • March 16, 2019 – 17 Side Road, Milton to Scotsdale Farm, Georgetown – 17k
  • April 22, 2019 – Silver Creek Conservation Area to Forks of the Credit Provincial Park – 22.9k (solo)
Alasdair and I just about to enter Hilton Falls.

Run stats

  • # runs: 6
  • # solo runs: 4
  • # runs with my husband Alasdair: 1
  • # runs with friends: 1 (Laura)
  • shortest run: 10k
  • longest run: 22.9k
  • average length of run: 15.4k

Run highlights

Most fun section to run: from Speyside south toward Hilton Falls, because of this section’s curvy, twisty little ups and downs.

Most decorated trees: From Hilton Falls north towards Speyside, there was one spot with many trees marked for removal.

X marks the spot.

1st time climbing a stile in spikes: Between Hilton Falls and Speyside (I was extra careful, thinking I may get caught in the gaps of the wood!).

I initially thought this had disaster written all over it.

Longest stretch without seeing another person on the trail: 18.3k when I ran from Speyside south toward Hilton Falls, then north up to 17 Sideroad and back to Speyside.

Most wildlife encounters: From Silver Creek Conservation Area to Forks of the Credit Provincial Park I saw 2 wild turkeys, 1 turkey vulture, 2 riders on horseback, 1 hawk, 1 garter snake, butterflies, chipmunks and squirrels, and a beagle that chased me, and I heard lots of spring peepers and other pond critters.

1st signs of spring on the trail: On April 22nd – flowers (and spring peepers!)! However, there was still ice on one section just south of Forks of the Credit.

Most memorable encounter with others on the trail: a beagle that chased me, getting very close and barking at me – I had to keep yelling “no!” to get it to back off. Eventually it’s owner called it away (property backs onto the trail).

Neat finds:  Limehouse Conservation Area, with narrow passages through steep rocks faces and little caves.

Hardest section to run: from Silver Creek Conservation Area to Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, because of the rocks, mud, washed out trail, and a sore knee after I fell hard on it at the 10k mark! My knee really didn’t like the final steep descent to Forks of the Credit.

So pretty in the forest!

Up next is the Caledon section!

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Running the Bruce Trail End to End: Niagara Section

I’ve now completed 2 sections of the Bruce Trail (there are 9)!

What’s the Bruce Trail? According to the Bruce Trail Conservancy website, the Bruce Trail is “Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath. Running along the Niagara Escarpment in southern Ontario from Niagara to Tobermory, the Bruce Trail spans more than 890 km of main Trail and over 400 km of associated side trails.”

NIAGARA SECTION

Started the Niagara section: January 6, 2019

Finished the Niagara section: February 22, 2019

Run details

  • January 6, 2019 – Elm Street, Grimsby to Mountain View Conservation Area and back – 18.5 km (solo)
  • January 11, 2019 – Mountain View Conservation Area to Ball’s Falls Conservation Area – 18 km
  • February 8, 2019 – Ball’s Falls Conservation Area to Short Hills Provincial Park – 14.3 km
  • February 16, 2019 – Short Hills Provincial Park to Tremont Drive – 19.5 km
  • February 22, 2019 – Tremont Drive to the Southern Terminus at Queenston Heights Park – 23.8 km (solo)
Cool ice crystals in a creek under a bridge.

Run stats

  • # runs: 5
  • # solo runs: 2
  • # runs with my husband Alasdair: 0
  • # runs with friends: 3 with Laura
  • # trail angels used: 1
  • shortest run: 14.3 km
  • longest run: 23.8 km
  • average length of run: 18.8 km
Ball’s Falls

Hardest section to run: First part of Ball’s Falls run because of the ice (we hadn’t brought our spikes).

Most puzzling sign: “Passive Use Only”? I’ve since looked it up and understand what it means!

Most waterfalls: From Short Hills Provincial Park to Tremont Drive (Swayze Falls on the left, below… not sure if the right one is named).

Scariest moment: As I was running along Warner Road, I heard thundering footsteps and was scared half to death when a big coyote ran out of the woods and right in front of me (20 feet?) straight across the road at full speed and into the woods on the other side! Wow! It ran too fast and I was too spooked to grab my phone.

Wildlife sightings: The most memorable wildlife sightings were of swans, a super friendly little goat, and a coyote (see “Scariest moment”) .

With my new friend.

Windiest run: On February 8, we ran with a bitter cold wind, which was awful when running along exposed areas like roads!

A super windy area beside an open field! There was no snow anywhere else – it all blew here.

Most surprising part of the trail: I was surprised to see that I had to walk through running water in a tunnel, but I managed to keep my feet dry by staying far right and walking on the ice.

Muddiest run: February 8th starting at Ball’s Falls (after we got through the ice!).

Strangest things encountered: Mascot in St. Catharines and a shoe in a tree near Brock University.

Iciest run: It’s a toss up between the last two runs, when it was spikes on/spikes off over and over again!

Love my Kahtoola microspikes!

Favourite photo: Laura jumping!

Neat finds: Log box at 30-Mile Creek

First trail angel: My running buddy Laura’s mother-in-law Jean is responsible for a part of the trail in the Niagara Section. She drove me from the Southern Terminus at Queenston Heights Park to the start of my run at Tremont Drive, allowing me to finish the Niagara section with a big run (rather than 2 out and backs on my own). Thank you Jean!

Up next is the Toronto section!

Here I am at the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show (with Brooke from the Bruce Trail front office), pointing to Milton on the Bruce Trail map, where I’ll be running next.

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