The chase for another fastest-known time (FKT) is about to begin as a team of southwestern Ontario women look to set a record for the second consecutive year.
The Wild Bruce Chase, which 18 women comprised in 2016, set the fastest-known time for an all-women’s relay team on the Bruce Trail. This Canada Day, to mark the country’s 150th anniversary, 11 of those women will embark on an end-to-end attempt of the Rideau Trail, a more-than 300K journey from Ottawa to Kingston, Ont..
The Rideau Trail is a 387K network of trails between Kingston and Ottawa and generally runs along the Rideau Canal and its “tributary waters,” according to the Rideau Trail Association. (Certain closures and detours because of flooding may impact the exact distance from end-to-end.) Beginning at Parliament Hill (though a section below Parliament is currently closed), the trail features both paved, crushed gravel and technical off-road terrain.
By comparison, the Wild Bruce Chase team completed the Bruce Trail in 2016, a trek which also began on Canada Day, which took them four days, one hour and 39 minutes to cover approximately 900K. Cassie Smith, a member of the Wild Bruce Chase team during the Bruce Trail women’s relay FKT, is on the cover of the latest issue of Canadian Running.
Though the end-to-end trail is less than half of the Wild Bruce Chase’s record run between Niagara Falls and Tobermory, Ont. in 2016, team member and co-organizer Erin Dasher says the Rideau Trail comes with its own set of challenges. “There’s been extensive flooding in the Ottawa region and some parts of the trail are underwater,” she says. “Other parts, because of the high levels of rain, have overgrown vegetation. On the whole, the trail is less technical [than the Bruce] but there are certainly tough sections in the Frontenac region.”
The team, according to Dasher, hopes to complete the journey in approximately 30 hours as each runner will be assigned two to three legs, totalling about 30K each. Some sections of the trail are two- to three-feet underwater. There will be pacers assigned to runners for night sections on the trail as well as in areas without cell phone coverage. One active vehicle will shuttle runners between headquarters, a RV, and the trail, according to Dasher.
Trail users follow an orange triangle with a yellow tip when heading in the direction to Kingston from Ottawa.
There’s believed to be no fastest-known time for a relay team currently on the Rideau Trail so if the Wild Bruce Chase finish, their mark will become to time to beat. The fastest solo end-to-end time was set all the way back in 1983 by Bob Tysen at three days, 11 hours and 31 minutes.