Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Race Report: Cabot Trail Relay 2013

6:30 am - at the start of leg 1
This report will have to be short and sweet. My week's far too busy to spend much time writing it.

I had another awesome Cabot Trail Relay experience this past weekend as a member of "To Gno-me is to love me". The Gnomes have been a fixture at CTR for many years so it was an honour to suit up for them, and the weather was much better than expected.

Watercolour landscape - taken with my phone at the start of leg 8
I'd opted to run the relatively easy leg 12 but it felt challenging nonetheless because it started at 12:30 in the morning and, by that time, I'd already been on the road driving, cheering and supporting my teammates for more than 10 hours. Fortunately, although I was very nervous beforehand and struggled to pull myself together in the first kilometre (when both sets of shoelaces came untied and I had to stop twice to adjust my headlamp and the light attached to my shoe), things improved quickly.

Once I'd settled into a good pace, it felt magical running through the darkness on such a warm spring night, even with occasional headwinds slowing my progress somewhat. By the time I'd completed the first section, winding my way over two good-sized hills and out of Cape Breton Highlands National Park, I felt relaxed and comfortable enough to savour the sight of the full moon shining above and the sound of waves breaking on the shoreline below.

I'd been hoping all day that the skies would clear and make running at night easier so, when the moon suddenly appeared from behind the clouds and lit the road ahead, it seemed like a sign that all would be well. I ran the remainder of the leg feeling immensely grateful - for the good fortune to be participating in CTR again, for all that had inspired me to participate in the first place and, most importantly, for the people who had encouraged and supported my crazy running habit over the past 11 years - especially Husband.

A quick word about our team's performance. The Gnomes finished 47th out of 70 teams participating in the event with a total time of 25:39:02 and no penalties! (Penalties are tough to avoid so we were very proud that we didn't get any.) My own performance was less impressive. I completed 15.78 kms at an average 5:56/km pace - quick enough to "make the mat" but in only 59th place.

The last thing I want to mention is how well my friend David did running leg 9. For those unfamiliar with CTR, leg 9 takes runners more than 385 metres up and down North Mountain (approximately 6 kms each way), trashing every major muscle group in their legs before challenging them to run a final tough 5 kms through "rolling" hills in the dark. Until he signed up to run it last December, David hadn't been running all that consistently and, to be honest, I was concerned he might seriously hurt himself attempting to slay this Goliath. But, after months of hard training - including hill repeats up and down Signal Hill in his home town of St. John's, NL - he did himself and all of us proud by completing this very tough 17.5 km leg at an impressive 5:59/km pace and crossed the finish line looking strong and determined. Well done, David!

There's lots more I could say about this fabulous race - about the incredible volunteers, the breathtaking beauty of the Cabot Trail, and the camaraderie that only an event like CTR can generate - but I'll leave it to others to fill in the gaps. A huge thank you to my fellow Gnomes for making it possible for me to participate again this year. I hope to see you all back on the trail in 2014!

Headed for home


  1. Yay!! I've been waiting for the race report - so glad it all worked out for you, Janice, and that the weather was decent (poured rain here, so I was worried you'd get the same kind of garbage). Well done :)

    1. Thanks, my dear. it was a good weekend but I have to say I'm pretty sore now. Think my body could use a bit of rest over the next few weeks. -)