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At 79, Florence Barron sets PB at famously tough Cape to Cabot 20K

The point-to-point Newfoundland and Labrador road race begins at the easternmost point in Canada and finishes atop Signal Hill overlooking St. John's

Florence Barron

St. John’s, N.L. runner Florence Barron wanted to lower her 20K personal best before turning 80 in what was her fifth Cape to Cabot on Sunday.

RELATED: 79-year-old Florence Barron beats 89 per cent of Tely 10-Miler women’s field.

The 79-year-old, who beat 89 per cent of the women’s field at the Tely 10-Miler this summer, completed the point-to-point course from Cape Spear, N.L. to Signal Hill in St. John’s in 2:06:58, a nine-second PB. She finished first in the W70 age category and averaged 6:20 per K on a course known as “one of the toughest you will ever face,” as put by race organizers. It’s among the most challenging road races in eastern North America with the exception of perhaps the Mount Washington Road Race.

The race begins at the easternmost point in Canada, and North America, and follows a route south, then west before heading north to St. John’s with a finish atop Signal Hill, a National Historic Site of Canada, at Cabot Tower, which overlooks the province’s capital. Cape Spear is too a National Historic Site of Canada.

Because of the course layout, runners can see the finish from the start line on a clear day. Elevation gain for the 20K road race is approximately 550m with some hills as steep as 10 per cent. Few parts of the course are flat. The regular sell-out is capped at 500 runners annually.

Sunday marked the fourth consecutive year that Barron has run the Newfoundland and Labrador road race, which began in 2007. Prior to 2017 Barron had finished Cape to Cabot on five occasions including times of 2:12:04 in 2009, 2:12:57 in 2014, 2:07:07 in 2015 and 2:07:26 in 2016. This year was her first sub-2:07 performance.

She started running at 59.

Mark Greene, in 1:16:23, and Caroline McIllroy, in 1:27:08, won the 2017 Cape to Cabot Road Race.