FKT: Aaron Webb - Mantario Trail (MB, Canada) - 2022-06-28

Route variation
Standard Out-Back
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
23h 40m 16s

I ran this as a solo/unsupported route.  There is for sure some significant potential reductions in time in better conditions.

Trail conditions: It had been closed until 2 weeks before my attempt due to significant spring flooding and had seen almost zero traffic in that time.  I had cleared the majority of deadfall in the south half as soon as the trail opened but found quite a bit of fresh deadfall leading up to the Mantario Wilderness Zone in the interim.  Dave Tabbernor and I cleared the north half a week prior to my attempt and this was still relatively clear.  The amount of overgrowth and wet conditions were still quite significant in many areas, and the north edge of the trail was still in knee deep water from flooding on Big Whiteshell.  Mosquitoes and ticks were at an all time peak as well.  No bears this time around, although it is a common sight on Mantario.  Nearly collided with a surprised porcupine in the middle of the night which I was grateful to avoid.  Didn't encounter a single person on the trail all day.

Start time:  There is no perfect time to start a route that you expect to take 24 hours.  I chose to put the night miles behind me at the start when my mind was least fatigued, so I started at ~23:00.  Unfortunately there had been a thunderstorm a few hours earlier, so the rocks were slippery, the overgrowth was dripping wet, and I was soaked for essentially the first 12 hours.  It was slow going through the night and navigation was difficult, but I only followed one game trail for a significant distance before sorting myself out.

Gear:  Salomon Adv skin 12 L that was brimming with calories: 6 x PB&J sandwiches, 2 x bagels with cream cheese and bacon, 6 x Spring gels, 6 x Gu gels, 6 x Tailwind, Nuun tabs, 2 x chocolate bars, assorted candy, and beef jerky.  4 x 500 ml soft flasks that I filled at Marion and Mantario lakes in both directions, as well as Big Whiteshell.  Altra Lone Peaks held up well.  Garmin inReach, 2 headlamps, ultralight raincoat, long sleeve shirt.  Calf sleeves to protect against the junipers.

The Day: Started rough and steadily improved.  Got soaking wet immediately, wiped out on a wet rock slab, and got lost within the first few km of the trail.  Stayed wet all night and was getting cold by the time the sun came up.  By the time I touched the north trailhead sign and turned around things warmed up, dried off, and things got better.  I was able to keep stops relatively short (~10 minutes) and limited to 5 times all day.  I had a surprise burst of energy on the last leg from Marion (~19 km) that was a wonderful way to finish it off.

Safety: I didn't take the decision to run this solo very lightly.  Risks of getting lost, slipping on a rock, breaking an ankle, or taking a stick in the eye are very real.  I had a Garmin inReach that I kept in regular touch with people throughout the day and had cutoff trigger times to ask for help if I wasn't heard from.  I also know the trail very well, having run the length of it at least 10 times in the last few years, including a supported double with others last year.  If you are considering this route, especially as a solo runner, make sure you talk to people who have done it before and carry a satellite device that can get you help if you need it.