On a soggy Canada Day in eastern Ontario, a team of 11 women set a new benchmark on the Rideau Trail.
The group, known as the Wild Bruce Chase, the current women’s relay record holders on the Bruce Trail, Canada’s oldest and longest footpath, began the more than 300K trip on Canada Day. The current fastest-known time for a women’s relay team now stands at 34 hours and 40 minutes.
The Rideau Trail and its associated side trails weave through the backcountry between Ottawa and Kingston, Ont. for a total of approximately 387K. The Wild Bruce Chase completed 328K on the main trail beginning on July 1.
According to the team, conditions included severe storm warnings, torrential rain with zero visibility, thunder and lightning, soaring temperatures and flooded trails at times. The Wild Bruce Chase ran the route from Ottawa to Kingston after running through the night on Saturday. The start coincided with Canada Day as the nation celebrated its 150th anniversary since Confederation.
The Rideau Trail features technical portions as well as paved and gravel stretches. End-to-end fastest-known time (FKT) attempts are not as common on the Rideau Trail as other Ontario routes like the Bruce Trail between the Niagara River and Tobermory.
Runners were transported between their leg(s) and a home base on route by vehicle with pacers running with relay team members at times depending on the time of day and accessibility (cell signal for example). Nine support crew members helped out during the FKT run.
In 2016, the group of women, totalling 18 on that occasion, completed the approximately-900K Bruce Trail in four days, one hour and 39 minutes, bettering the women’s relay FKT by more than 24 hours. This year marked the second consecutive Canada Day that the Wild Bruce Chase attempted, and subsequently set, new marks on a popular Ontario trail.
The fastest solo end-to-end Rideau Trail time was set all the way back in 1983 by Bob Tysen at three days, 11 hours and 31 minutes.