“Life and running is all about keeping the feet moving and moving in a forward direction.”
258-kilometres, 2.5-days from Kingston to Ottawa
It all began with a question from my wife about what I wanted to do to mark my 40th birthday and a pent-up desire to run something after missing my goal fall marathon.
Ideas tend to get trapped in my rather thick skull at times. Mention that it would be insane to run some crazy distance from here to there….and soon enough that idea is burrowing itself into my already rapidly churning (1-horsepower)(1-brain cell) brain.
My wife said I should do something to mark my 4-decades of life-maybe she was not suggesting a multi-day insanity….but that is the grub-like running foolishness that crawled in and set up shop in my brain a few months ago. An attempt on the Rideau Trail (327km) unofficial (FKT) record. (Record set in 1983 by Ultra-runner Bob Tysen)(3-hours, 11-hours and 31-minutes)
The planning began in earnest. Maps, directions and ideas….
I went through all the maps on the Rideau Trail Association website and bought their waterproof version at a local hiking shop. I gathered maps of the areas between Kingston and Ottawa and even had a map printed at a great map store in Ottawa (World of Maps).
I spoke with everyone I could think of for advice – the very helpful Rideau Trail Association members, Bruce Watts who hiked the Rideau Trail End to End (and has great website and videos of his trip). I took the advice, trail updates and every bit of information I had to create the plan. I figured I could get 2.5-days free from work and a busy home-life with a new 5-month old to take a crack at the run.
On the road to Kingston, ON.
With a van to follow me, a friend (Nick Brindisi)(Collingwood half-marathon race director) to run with and maps, binders, gear, food and family and friends for support – the trip was ready to launch. A record attempt though had turned into just a run on as much of the trail as we could (due to planned morning and night-time run/hiking and concerns from family and unfamiliarity with trail).
Thursday Evening – 40k in 4-hours on trail and road between Kingston, ON and Sydenham, ON. This was a night-time run with headlamps on easy trail and road followed by a quick meal in the van and 4-hours sleep in the back of our 7-passenger van.
A quick supper after 40k and 4-hours sleep in Sydenham, ON.
We had an offer from a great guy in the village of Sydenham but were too tired to leave the van (Sorry Jason!).
Friday brought an 84-kilometre day that felt much longer. The plan was to go from Sydenham to Perth. A 5am start had us walking the cold fall hour on back roads but soon we were on trails. Frontenac Park, wet feet and a long, long time in woods summed up Friday. We ended our day on a dark winding dirt road as the night grew colder – after 14-hours on foot. We called it a day and dragged our tired, cold and wet bodies to Perth, ON.
The silver lining to the hard-fought kilometres on Friday was meeting an amazing Perth couple who open their home to 2 crazy (and smelly) runners and their support crew. Jack and his wife had left the door open to their house, had a warm shower, beds, towels and soup and biscuits ready for us. It was truly amazing. One of the highlights of the trip.
At this point the plan was constantly changing – as life does. My goal had been to mark my 40th birthday with something significant, a challenge and something I would remember. An adventure. We were also raising money for cancer – a disease that affects so many and forces people to deal with life as it comes and try and keep moving forward despite chemo or other complications….and pain. We too were adapting and changing and focusing on the main goals (adventure and pushing ourselves) and we were certainly dealing with pain.
Saturday (Halloween) we slept in a bit but were soon off running along the road on a frosty morning (on tired legs) on our way to Merrickville. We ran in the morning and were slowed by Nick’s blisters, lake sized puddles and terrain the rest of the day. My goal was 100k. With Nick nursing his beat up feet in the van in the late evening – I somehow found energy reserves and ran the last 20-25k at 3:45-4:15 pace (seems insane) on quiet, dark roads and then along the highway. 106k was the total for the day.
Saturday night the legs were tired and beat up but slithered into sleeping bag and readied the day to come. I awoke Sunday to dark clouds and the sound of rain and a left ankle and shin that were incredibly sore. Sunday turned into a tough mental day for me – it was my turn not Nick’s to be a wounded warrior. I tried a bit of running but to no avail. I changed to more comfortable tights, gritted my teeth and pushed my walking pace to a level that had Nick and two friends (Bridget and Mark) running to catch up every few minutes. I managed 28-kilometres in just over 4-hours and reached our end-point. I screwed up my face, gritted teeth and grunted through pain to run the last 200-300metres.
Tears of relief and joy were in my eyes at the end – where family and friends had come to greet us.
I had pushed myself harder and farther than I had ever tried, run 258km, made a new friend and we had raised $1000 to help fight cancer. Doughnuts and chocolate milk were brought out to celebrate.
Other photos from the adventure
EQUIPTMENT and LOGISTICS
- 7-passenger van to sleep in and support along the route
- All kinds of running gear, running packs and head lamps
- Maps, GPS, directions and detailed distance information
- Quick to prepare food and fuel (gels,bars,chews,drinks)
- Thanks to my wife, family and friends for the support. Thanks to Nick for joining me on the crazy adventure.
- Thanks to Claude for lending us the van that was so essential to our run.
- Thanks to Muscle Mlk Canada for the Energy Chews, bars and Cytomax to keep me fueled (burned 24000 calories on the run!).
- Thanks to New Balance Canada for sending trail shoes and gear to keep me outfitted and warm.
- Thanks to Tyler at HOKA for letting me test out a trail shoe on the Rideau Trail.
- Thanks to all at the Rideau Trail Association for advice, guidance, information and warnings.
- Thanks to Jack Tannett and his wife for opening your home to us and for the soup and biscuits.
- Thanks to Trousdale Foodland for letting us park in your parking lot.
- Thanks to Jason Silver for the offer of showers for 2 smelly runners.
Link to Nick’s blog piece about our run.
Other interesting information.
Record for Rideau trail end to end run (3 days 11hrs 31 min) Bob Tysen (Ottawa) 1983
Other end to end diaries/hikes etc:
See you all out there on the roads or the trails for the next adventure! Run on.