LAST SECTION!!! Honestly, it's been quite the ride this year. This project meant so much to me. Credits to Jamieson for thinking of this idea. Executing an unsupported FKT on each of the 9 Bruce Trail sections in one calendar year had its challenges. I'm so so relieved I was successful on this last 100+ mile Peninsula section cause I don't think I had another attempt in me. It's been ~ one month since the last 106 miles (Sydenham). On top of that, I snuck in a rugged backcountry 130km hike in Northern Ontario in between these 2 efforts as well. Needless to say, I wasn't exactly sure how this last section was going to unfold. I knew the weather forecast was good, I was fit, and the window was now. The nights would only get longer and longer & the weather would get more unpredictable....
I stayed at my friends house Friday night (thank you Erin & Rob). After a quick 30 minute drive to Wiarton, I started this last section at 4:01AM.
I wanted to start early because I knew it was going to take me a while to run the section, and I had to work Monday morning. The earlier I started, the more sleep I would get before having to return to work.
The first 3 hours were uneventful. My pace was consistent and I was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise from the escarpment.
I had no issues with water sources. I ate often, and managed the rocky terrain as gracefully as I could. I was thankful it wasn't raining. I passed the different landmarks, taking mental notes of achieving these small goals along the way. Before I knew it, I was almost at the halfway mark, Lion's Head. A few miles before Lion's Head, I went down the water and prepped a backpacker dinner. I don't really ever bring a stove with me on these efforts, but I ate so many bars during Project 9, that I thought a hot meal would be a high calorie treat. The ultralight stove (it's really just burning a fuel block) was easy to carry and fast to set up. I rolled my feet while I boiled water, to be efficient during the stop. After pouring the hot water in my dehydrated meal, I set back out on the trail to minimize "wasted time". After approx 15 minutes or so, I hiked while eating my delicious meal. The timing was perfect. Shortly after eating, I was in Lion's Head in the dark.
This marked the beginning of an 11 hour night hike. The terrain continued to be rocky. The escarpment is no joke. It's very technical. Because of that, I basically just hiked all night. I tried to take a few dirt naps, but I would basically get cold shortly after lying down. After a few brief minutes of "sleep", I would get up and continue down the trail. I stayed steady throughout the night and was once again rewarded with another beautiful sunrise. 😍
I was a bit chilly in the morning but it was so nice to be running in the day again. I must of been a funny sight to see, cause I wore my emergency orange poncho (with the hood up) over my pack. I can't remember exactly what time it was, but on a road section in the morning, leading into the Bruce Peninsula National Park, I leaned up against a telephone or hydro pole and totally fell asleep for what felt like forever. I was totally rejuvenated when I woke up. I couldn't of slept that long though, because my elapse vs moving time only has me stopped for 47 minutes for the entire 100+ miles (36 hrs+).
Shortly after my nap, I saw a large bear on the side of the road, a ways up luckily, deciding whether or not he wanted to cross the road....which he did eventually. By the time I got up to where he was, he was nowhere in sight.
The day brought many hallucinations. More hallucinations then I ever had before....combined!!! I saw 11 horses in a field, bridges, cottages, gazebos, small animals...and more. Luckily none of the hallucinations were scary!
I rolled my feet every 4 hours religiously. I was pretty wrecked starting the 100 miles, so I knew taking the time to roll them out a few minutes every 4 hours would help this become a successful FKT. The rocks definitely don't help my feet. They require a little more TLC in this type of terrain. All good! I'm just grateful I could run this distance again!!
The grotto is always a special place to see. It's very popular though! I didn't spend any time there but did change my socks just before. It always feels nice to have a fresh pair of socks on. Plus, I carried them all that way, so I might as well change them :)
By the time I had only a couple hours left, I was singing (out loud) over and over again 🎵 "no more rocks, only flowing flowing trails please" 🎵 haha.
With no real low point in the effort, I eventually hit the roads of Tobermory where Jamieson was waiting for me at the Northern Terminus of the Bruce Trail!! He captured my finish on video and you could see, I'm definitely trying to hold back my tears. This project meant sooooo much to me and to be successful, after 7 months of execution was incredibly rewarding, to say the least. It was always about the totality of the project. :)
Project 9 was an unsupported FKT project. That is, unsupported on trail! The support off trail is paramount. Thank you to all of my friends and family for the encouraging words these past 7 months. Jamieson, thank you for the idea!!! Your support, love, encouragement, chauffeuring, and much much more is next level! I can't imagine doing these crazy adventures without you in my corner! Your support makes me feel like anything is possible! Thank you thank you thank you!!! ❤️
section 1: Niagara (79km) ✅ March 9
section 2: Iroquoia (114km) ✅ April 10
section 3: Toronto (50km) ✅ April 23
section 4: Caledon (70km) ✅ May 6
section 5: Dufferin (54km) ✅ June 17
section 6: Blue Mtn (67km) ✅ June 30
section 7: Beaver Valley (115km) ✅ July 15
section 8: Sydenham (170km) ✅ August 12
section 9: Peninsula (163km) ✅ Sept 9
Fun fact: total time if I add them all up is approx 6 days.
Working on the video for this E2E - Be sure to check out my YouTube channel to watch.
Project 9: I've always wanted to do the Bruce Trail again, since my supported effort in 2017. Unfortunately, at this time, circumstances will not allow this to occur. This is the absolute best next thing. My goal is to earn unsupported FKTs on all 9 Bruce Trail sections in 2023. Distances range from 50km-106 miles. It wasn't easy, but I gave it my all!!