I Adam Blacklock ran the Thames Valley Trail in 16 hours 36 minutes and 41 seconds on August 26th 2017.
Terri Biloski completed the trail in 16:50 for the fastest known female time on the same day.
Also a huge shout out to Brian Grant who also ran the trail with us. He was unselfish and ran with Terri.
Big thanks to all our crew and pacers who helped us out as well!
Check out my running activity on Garmin Connect. #beatyesterday
I will update this form with a write-up soon.
The Chris Hemsworth’s had just completed The Niagara Falls Ragnar Relay and fellow teammate Brian and I went out for an easy longish trail run to check out the Thames Valley Trail north of Fanshawe Conservation Area (May 22nd). It was a run just to learn more trail but it became a changing run for us. Randomly Brian wondered what the fastest known time on the trail was currently. I looked it up the next day and let him know it was in our reach at 26 hour and 40 minutes. I also happened to know one of the record holders Rhonda-Marie Avery who I regard as a very badass runner with some her epic runs she has completed.
Very quickly Brian had started putting a team together of very established ultra-runners. We jointly decided on August 26th for the run. I had my apprehensions because I knew it could be hot and humid on the day. We started doing long runs together on the Thames Valley Trail so we could learn it. There were some challenges learning the trail over the next few months but we got it all figured out so we were very confident that we knew everything. On June 25th Terri Biloski, Brian Grant and myself ran the first half of the Thames Valley Trail and ended up running 60km. It happened to be one of my best long training runs ever but unfortunately I injured my Achilles. I look at going to the Canadian Scout Jamboree in Nova Scotia as a blessing because it let me Achilles heal as I did not run while I was there for 10 days. While there I was hiking or walking on average 15km per day which kept me active. Once back from the trip I was running and racing again and had no pain. Whew I was glad I was over the injury and could still train for the Thames Valley Trail FKT. We started with 7 people interested in running for the Thames Valley Trail FKT but we were reduced to 3 of us Terri, Brain and myself.
Brain Grant I met a few years ago trail running. He has become a close friend especially over the past year as we have been running a lot together. He has motivated me many an early morning to get out of bed at 5am and go for a trail run. I have found these runs have improved my fitness a lot. Brian has gotten into ultra-trail running been at the top of the leader board in his first two ultras.
Terri Biloski was a runner I had heard lots about and finally met her this year. I have huge respect for Terri just from what I have heard about her. To meet her in person was a treat and man can she run! During training for the Thames Valley Trail she was top female on Strava for distance for a few months. Truly mind blowing for me and made me respect her even more. Unfortunately in early July she hurt her hip slipping on a run. I could see her drop in distance and I was concerned. She was getting better as we got closer to the run and was informed that she was going to be good to go. Even had a friend say dude don’t worry about Terri not even for an instant she will get it done.
We had our team assembled:
Runners: Adam Blacklock, Brain Grant, and Terry Biloski
Crew: Devin Fischer, Ashley Grant, Terry Vandermaarel, Brent Newman, Jacob Myatt
Pacers: Eric Salin, Michael Brunelle Jr, Jacob Myatt, Kristina Schmitt, Hillary Tufford, Scott Weersink, Natalie White, Jeremy
Our starting pacers and crew met with us at the start. Most unassuming starting location as it’s a telephone pole with sign on it in alongside a country road. It’s on Southminister Bourne at the end of the Elgin Trail. Hillary sang a wonderful opera rendition of Oh Canada to start for us. We started of with Eric, Michael, Kristina, and Hillary as our pacers from the Rundles No Frills Trail Ragnar Team. We started at 5:33am and somehow I seemed to be the leader to start and show the way. After our first little trail section we had a long country road run along Bell rd. Hillary and Kristina seem to like to lead this section but wanted to wait for me at the trail turn after Littlewood Dr. This section is mostly along farmer fields but does have some nice trail as well. Soon enough we are back on Bell rd again. Once I get to Carriage road just after a little trail I see Jacob and get him to refill my water. We finished section one on the left turn onto Springer Rd and I know we are behind our planned schedule as we went out much slower than I anticipated. I get some aid from our crew and eat my first cliff bar while I wait for Brian to arrive. There was a large fire going on in the area that was letting off black smoke. He looked like he was going to take a minute so I left the station with Hillary.
Brian catches up to us before we dive back into the trail off Heatly Dr. He told me to press on he was going to make sure people made this turn as it was tough to notice and we didn’t want Terri to go off course. Little did I know this would be the last time I would see Brian until he finished the run. This was only 17km into the run as well. When I finished the beautiful trail bit back onto Springer Rd I saw Jacob setup with food and drink by Sharon Creek. Hillary and I pushed on making the left after Heatly road alongside a farmers field. I seem to keep a good pace over this section. Hillary was worried about getting to work so she left me as I heading towards the 402 and over it. I quite like the next section of trail that brings you up into Delaware. Also happened to be the last place I had previously fallen. There is a random hockey net along the trail and Jacob notice a hockey puck as well this time. I found him as I was getting to Pleasant St. I then see Terry and Brent at the baseball diamonds and they refill my water and I have another cliff bar. At this point I am thinking the group is just behind me as I run along Gideon Drive towards Komoka. When I get to Komoka Rd I can’t see the group behind me and it’s fairly straight behind me. I am concerned a bit that I am head by some much. I make the turn into the trail under Komoka bridge and go around the farmer field just to come back onto Gideon Rd again.
Just as I enter Komoka Provincial Park I see Natalie a new trail runner I have run with a few times. She asks if she can run with me and I say I would love the company. She made me laugh a few times by saying I was making her run faster than should would if on her own. I know this trail section really well as I used to do laps of Komoka for training runs. When I get of Komoka Natalie drops to go to her car.
I end up seeing, Brent, Terry, Jacob, Jeremy, and Ashley along Oxford St and get some support. I have now been informed that Terri and Brian about 20 minutes behind me. WTF is all I can think? How is that possible? I am the slow one supposed to be chasing their coat tails and hanging on. Jacob tells me to just keep pushing on and not to worry. Terri is hurting and Brian won’t leave her side. Oh shit this is not good as I hoping for them to push me. I also think about how there is still a ton of the trail left and they can easily catch up over that distance and you never know what truly is in front of you. Not like waiting around for 20 minuits is a good idea.
Trying to figure out where my watch charger went. As I run up the hill I notice this is the easiest it has every felt to run up this hill. I normally hate it as it’s long and slow with traffic. When I get to Kairn Rd the crew has found my charger cable and portable charger. Whew I got worried for a bit. Jeremy is going to run with me for the next while which is great as I know it’s going to get tougher. He passes my a doggy poop bag with dates in it. Totally makes me laugh as I am know for this a bit. I have run out of zip lock bags before and used doggy pop bags to hold my dates while running. It looks totally odd eating dates of a poop bag but hey I think it’s funny. We get out of Kains woods trail and do for the first time the under the oxford St bridge. Never knew that existed before learning the Thames valley trail and drove out a few day before to check this bit out. We passed the pond that just a few weeks earlier on a long run I found an injured 80 year old man fallen out of his wheel chair. As we approach Warbler Woods parking lot I notice two hikers getting ready to hike. They are two coworkers of mine form different jobs. Brandie Faith from Postmedia and Bernie from MEC and I didn’t know they know each other. They both have heard about my run and ask if that is what I am doing and I respond yes. Jeremy and I enter the very hilly Warbler Woods and I walk the up hills. We have to make sure we make the left turn as it’s easy to miss since I would normally go a different way. We soon come out into Byron side streets and see Stacy Grobbler who I congratulate on her last Ironman age category victory. Jeremy thinks it funny when we cross at a certain cross walk at Commissioner as it’s the trail.
We are now into Springbank park and I am still thinking about Terri and Brian behind me. It’s bugging me and I am not sure how I feel being a head of them. Springbank is not my favorite section as the trial is mostly on pavement with little shoot offs on a groomed trail. I use the water mister by Wonderland Graden’s to cool myself down a bit as it’s getting hotter. Jeremy also fills my water bottle as I am out. We see our two support rides by the Greenway soccer fields and find out Brian and Terri are maybe a half an hour behind now. Again how is this happening? We were supposed to run together. Still confused and feeling badly about being ahead. Support crew helps with this making me know they are not mad that I am ahead. I talk to Jeremy about how this is affecting me mentally. He has agreed to run more with me then he had planned as he can now get a ride back to his car.
When we get to Ivey park I go over to the splash pad and cool down and get wet. Next section is pavement and my legs are not like it so much. We see Terry and Brent in Gibbons park and get more support. Yummy bacon again! We hit the Gibbons section of trail which I run often up to Meadowdown Drive. This little cut out around Monsignor Wemple Hall I think is crazy as there is great trail that I run all the time on the other side of it. The trail then takes us behind the North Athletic fields and into Killally trails. I mention to Jeremy I am glad I got some trail maintenance done in this area in the spring for a MEC race as there was a tree down that would have caused problems. At the end of Windermere where it meets the trail I get support again from Terry and Brent. Jocob also catches up with us and I let him know I want to run with him soon. When I get to Highbury Jeremy leaves me as he is done. It was his furthest run since Boston and he is hurting.
Jacob joins up with me after the hill on Kilally Rd. Man the hill was tough in the heat and I was forced to a walk. Body is starting to realise how far I have run at 70km. The trail into Fanshawe is a trail Brain and I regularly run so even if not used much I know the way. Jacob gives me lots of tips on how to mentally stay in the game and tell me about some of his adventures winning races. He also makes me feel alright about Terri and Brian behind me as he has run with them already and Terri is at peace with being the female fastest known time. Walked up the hill at Fanshawe Dam as my legs were tired. We go between the pond and the lake and Jacob is less sure we are going the right way as Fanshawe is not signed well. Running this section with the guide before is important so I am glad we did it before. The arch in my left foot is starting to really hurt. I ask Jay if I should stop and deal with it but he says not to do it. When we started getting close to Fanshawe Pioneer Village we started to hear loud noises. Soon I realised it was cannon and musette fire that was startling us. Must be a re-enactment going on today. I notice while running by the beach there were lots of white paper wrappers on the ground so there must have been a beach battle at some point. We also saw some old ships on the water that looked amazing. When we went by the Watson Porter Pavillion we saw Devin and Ashley again. Funny this is where they are getting married next month. When we get to the Fanshawe golf course I pick up Terry as my pacer. His plan is to run the rest of the way with me which will make it his longest run ever. My pace is still doing alright but my foot is left foot is hurting more. I always look at this section one of the more difficult parts of Fanshawe. The stream crossing was very low but on tired legs was tougher to stay on the rocks.
When we got onto Thorndale road I saw Terrys van parked but no Brent. Terry catches back up as he was texting with Brent and he says that is funny it’s not hi van but exactly the same type and colour. We get onto Valleyview Rd and a guy looking ready to run asked if we are with the FKT attempt. We say yes and he joins us a little down the road after he finishes getting ready. I have never met this guys before and he introduces himself as Scott and he has communicated with Brent and is joining us. Wow support form a stranger! He even knows the trail well. We go off and do the section by the small RV camp ground and then are back on Valley View rd again. I mention it’s the first time I have gotten shade from the other side of the road as I have only run this section in the morning before. Foot is really starting to bother me and my energy is getting low. I rub my feet with one of the chargers since they are a cylinder and it helped. Brent was here again with the support ride. The next section of trail off the road is one of my least favorite as the grass is always overgrown and very uneven. I walk this section as my feet cry out in pain.
We see Brent again at the highway 16 cross over and some guys working on the farm across the road. I get Scott to grab the machete as I know the next section is overgrown. The first bit it feels nice to run again as it’s good single track. That until we hit the really overgrown section where I am glad to have Scott with the machete leading the way staying on the trail. We finally get out of the rought section and then it’s all up and down twisting and turning trail. I run whatever I can and power hike what I can’t depending on the trail difficulty. It’s a beautiful part of the trail but tough. It opens up to more grass but I can run more of it. I am trying to run as much as I can but it’s getting tougher. Just before we got to highway 7 we went the wrong way but I noticed I was not seeing what I knew we should so we turned around and go back onto the trail. We got onto highway 7 and crossed the river. I was surprised to see my wife and kids as I thought I would see them only at the end. It made me very happy to see them and I knew I was going to make it. I apparently did not show much love as I was in a hurry as I was in a good spell and did not want to stop.
Light was starting to wain and I wanted to have as much light as possible the next section is the toughest and not easy at all. It got dark and all I could do is walk over the tough terrain. Scott had to hurry on ahead as he had to go to work and milk the cows. Finally we hit the woods section and I could start running again. If not running I was power hiking much better. I also was told that Brian and Terri were 25mins behind now when they reached highway 7. Made my mind spin again do I wait and we finish together or do I push? I push on figuring they will be walking the whole last 12km and might end up being further behind me. Just keep running and power hiking knowing it’s getting closer. I keep checking my watch as I want to finish. We finally hit a section of trail I was hoping to see as I remember it’s near the end but it has an hands on the ground climb. Then we hit the hill where I know the road is up top. Only a small road section to go and Brent finds us and instructs us where to go. This is the only section on the whole route I have not run before. Brent points out the rock finish. I huge crowd of friends and family come out and witness me finish and kiss the rock. I stop my watch at 16 hours 36 minutes and 41 seconds. I new fastest known time by 10 hours.
I soon am afford food and drink. That Boneshakker beer tasted so good. About 15 minutes later Terri and Brian arrive. Wow they did well at the end catching up 25 minutes over the last 25km.