When Tara Berry and Alicia Woodside ran the Howe Sound Crest Trail (HSCT) together in 2013 for the first time, they finished in the dark. Fast forward to October 29th 2018, and the women utilized their experiences and strengths as a trail and mountain running duo to set a new unsupported Fastest Known Time (FKT) in 4:28:15. Their second attempt this month, the women felt inspired to chase the previous record of 4:37:56 set by Sam Drove in September. Mike Murphy currently has the male FKT of 3:44:00 (previously set by Eric Carter and Nick Elson).
Their first time on the trail “probably took around eight to nine hours,” says Tara. The HSCT is a 28K point-to-point trail extending from Cypress Mountain to Porteau Cove in the Sea to Sky region of B.C. With approximately 2,000 metres of elevation gain, the gnarly terrain offers endless views of Howe Sound and traverses alongside the rugged North Shore mountains. Its technical ascents and descents mean that most trail runners or experienced hikers complete the trail over an entire day or weekend.
Since 2013, Tara and Alicia have completed the trail seven or eight times, mostly for fun and with other outdoor enthusiasts. The women have fallen in love, both with the trail, and on it. (Alicia met her husband on the HSCT). Whether they are running for speed records or for a swim in one of its lakes, the trail holds many shared memories.
Alicia describes their day as “really fun!” But it wasn’t easy. As with most hard efforts, there were low points. Alicia felt the urge to quit on the first climb, but Tara persuaded her otherwise. The women capitalized on their experiences through years of crewing, pacing, and supporting each other in ultrarunning adventures. “Trust and believe in what your teammate is telling you during those low points. We often think the situation is way worse than it is,” explains Woodside. The duo demonstrated how trail running can often be a team sport.
The Fastest Known Time was not the only FKT the women set that day. They also set the Funnest Known Time, turning mental and physical challenges into smiles and celebratory achievements.
As winter makes its way to the west coast, attempts to challenge the new female FKT will need to wait until next season. Although it’s a tough time to beat, Tara and Alicia are excited for the trail running community to tackle it. Learn more about their adventures here.