I’ve run trails before. And I’ve run at night. But I had never done those two things together before May 6.
I got the opportunity to run the Bruce Trail at night thanks to Nous Adventure Co. The team was tackling the first all-female, continuous end-to-end run of the 885 km trail, and needed some people to help with the night legs. How could I turn down being part of something so amazing and ambitious?
I signed up to assist near the end of their trek, to give my body at least a couple of days to recover post-marathon. So at 10 p.m. on a Thursday night, I found myself in a parking lot off a side road somewhere in St. Catherine’s.
With gentleman friend and two headlamps in toe, we set off to tackle 17 km of the Bruce Trail. It was mostly well marked, and after about three kilometres we became very good at spotting the white blazes. I’m not going to lie though – we did get off trail twice and had to backtrack, and there were a few moments I was grateful to have a GPS tracker on me just in case it went really awry.
The first half of the run really ended up being mostly a brisk walk, as there were rocky outcroppings, large muddy areas and a couple of creeks. My feet were soaked up to my ankles very quickly, and I did have to throw out my shoes at the end and go home barefoot.
The second half was much better – and quicker. With better trails I was able to enjoy the novelty of running in the forest at night with no other people around beyond gentleman friend. It’s such a city thing to say, but it was nice to see stars. We heard a lot of rustling in the bushes, but the only wildlife we saw were raccoons.
Our slowest and muddiest 17k ever ended in another parking lot, where I handed off the GPS device to the next team of runners. While I drove home and went to sleep, this group of women – who had been at it for six days at that point – went on to complete the entire trail early that Friday morning.
How cool is that?
Running trails at night was surprisingly hard, but I’m definitely not done with it. My next to-do on the Bruce Trail, though, is to go back and visit my leg of the relay in daylight. I heard some pretty-sounding waterfalls and creeks, but would love to see them!