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Iconic, eye-catching Maritime relay race celebrates 30th running

With leg-battering, challenging terrain and drop-dead-gorgeous views, it's no wonder this race has become a destination race over the past 30 years.

Looking for an annual challenge with the training group? For exactly three decades, a seaside multi-stage tour of Nova Scotia’s most eye-catching views has proven to be a stronghold in the Canadian running scene. Just over 276 kilometres long, The Cabot Trail Relay has just celebrated its 30th running. 

What started as a makeshift relay with just six teams has since grown into an iconic east coast gem taking runners along waterfront terrain, through leg-battering mountainous trails all the way from Baddeck to Cape Breton.

Its trails are enough to challenge groups of competitive marathon veterans. Pair that with drop-dead-gorgeous Maritime scenery and fresh salty air and you’ve got yourself a bucket list Canadian destination race.

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Initially, in 1988, it drew Canadians, mostly from the eastern provinces. Unsurprisingly, today, it brings runners from around Canada, the U.S. and even Australia. 


In late-May the relay, which is split into 17 legs, runs during ideal running weather. It’s also a great way for teams to experience shoulder season, before the summer crowds arrive to Cape Breton. As it has been running for 30 years now, next month it is to be inducted into the Cape Breton Sports Hall of Fame. 

Like most notable races, the relay has seen it’s fair share of heart-warming plot lines shake out from the annual running. It wouldn’t be a running event without at least one engagement for example, and according to a recent CBC story, the Cabot Trail Relay has spawned its own couple. Breagh and Rob Gomez met on the course in 2013 and were engaged the following year. 

This year, the race saw record fast times both on leg 11 and 16. The mixed-team category was won by the UNB (University of New Brunswick) Cross-Country Alumni team. A Maine group, The Mainiacs, won the overall relay. 

Missed the Cabot Trail this year? Check out the action from social media on its 30th anniversary: 


Incredible performance by some @parkdaleroadrunners out at the #cabottrail this weekend. Damn proud of ya’ll. Gonna leave the last word to @gavingraham_ : . REPOST: We came into Cape Breton without a time goal. The Cabot Trail Relay was about having fun, enjoying the scenery, and spending some time with some of the best people. . When other teams heard that we only had ten runners for 17 legs, they thought we were crazy. They obviously didn’t know the @parkdaleroadrunners family. . @sarahjeancurtis set the tone for the race on the first leg, then crushed her second in total darkness. . @elginsdiner was in full on beast mode, placing in the top five overall in the second leg then climbing a literal mountain in the 10th. . @jenny_mc kept our momentum going on the third leg, but was also a huge help to me in organizing. . @nattyrose82 stared down Cape Smokey, throwing down a 1:32 almost-half-marathon up and down a mountain…and then she carried us home in the final leg. . @retrojuice83 knocked out PBs on cliffs overlooking the ocean. . @jameskoka powered up and powered through nagging injuries and kept us steady through leg 5. . @ms_stephhamilton battled through injuries of her own, and in her first real run back knocked out 16k at two in the morning. Because fuck injuries, she wanted it more. . @timlawrence43 ran another top five finish, then capped it off with another 20k for fun. . And @lindsayscottphysio killed the “career killer” ninth leg, and was damn near floating at the end of it. . So yeah, ten runners, 17 legs, and a 12th place overall finish. That’s insane. Or not if you saw this fam throw down this weekend. I couldn’t have been happier or prouder.

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