22-year-old Cody Gillies set out a little less than two weeks ago to conquer the Bruce Trail, a stretch of difficult terrain stretching 885K through Southern and Central Ontario.
His goal was to cover the distance in just 13 days. And on Thanksgiving Day, Gillies ended his quest in triumph, breaking the record.
Gillies, a resident of Orangeville, Ont. is an avid ultra-distance runner, who decided to take down the previous record in order to raise funds for a cause that’s very close to him.
He sought out to raise $25,000 for equipment at Headwaters Heath Care Centre’s paediatric ward. Gillies was born at the hospital, telling the Orangeville Citizen before he embarked on his trek, “I was born here in 1989 and I was six weeks premature, and one of the tough things for my mom was that I had to get flown away to another hospital because (Headwaters) didn’t have the equipment here.”
He said his mother reminds him of the hardship caused by that month of separation every year on his birthday.
Gillies got the idea of starting the “End to End Challenge” to see if he could break the current record after he completed a 50K trail run in Tennessee. “It was a 50 km trail run but it had 5000 vertical feet of just climbing, and really rocky, which is similar terrain to the Bruce Trail, so it was kind of where the confidence in being able to complete (the Bruce trail run) came from,” Gillies told the Citizen.
The previous record for traversing the Bruce Trail was 13 days, 10 hours and 50 minutes from Tobermory to Queenston, Ont.
Gillies figured he could beat the record by training for 12 hour days, where he was expected to cover the distance by running more than a 6K an hour pace, which he pointed out is just above a walking pace for the most part, but would require quite a bit of running due to the challenging segments of the trail.
He started his training at the beginning of the year, running 30K a day, then stepping it up to 50-60K, even adding in the occasional 80K day.
Now that he has broken the record he still has some unfinished business. His aim was to raise $25,000, and as of Oct. 8 he has raised just over $15,000.
He’s also thinking ahead to next year. “it would be cool to maybe carry (the Bruce run) on over to a yearly thing, whether it be an organized run as a fundraiser for the hospital or something like that, but we’ll try and get this one done first.”
Gillies’ plan is to continue raising money until he reaches his $25,000 goal. And then perhaps he’ll rest.