FKT: Chantal Demers - Bruce Trail, Sydenham Section - 2023-08-13

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1d 10h 55m 43s
GPS track(s)

I haven't ran a 100 miler in 4 years, and since my last, I had surgery on both my feet with a 2 year recovery. Additionally, at this time last year, I could barely manage running more than 30km at a time. Needless to say, I was nervous to see how this section was going to unfold. I knew I had a good base fitness after successfully completing the last 7 sections of the Bruce. I was hoping this season and the previous ultra experience I had from before, I would be able to finish this 106 mile beast of a section. 

Syndenham is just that! A beast!! As much as it's long & rugged, it's beautiful and humbling. The unknown factor would be how my feet would hold up!  I packed a pillow and emerg bivvy to get a few hours of sleep and rest them up, if needed. Unfortunately/fortunately (?), it didn't quite play out that way. 

Let me back up a little...

We crashed at a friends cottage and set the alarm for 3:30AM (thank you Erin & Rob). It was a short drive to Blantyre from Balmy Beach. Jamieson dropped me off for my solo, unsupported adventure and after a quick photo, I started at 5:12 am. 

I ran the first hour with my headlight in the light rain. My feet were wet from the grassy trail immediately after starting. 

By 8:20AM, it was a full on thunder and lightning storm!! I was drenched and basically didn't dry out for the rest of the section. It rained on & off the entire time!!! 🤪

I took 2 wrong turns on day 1. One short one when I didn't see the right turn on a small road section and one extra lap around the boardwalk at Bagnar Marsh. 

I saw 1 beautiful deer on the road and got plenty of dog pets along the way. I even saw a cute tiny dog being carried in a backpack. (See pic). 

Besides managing the rain and storms, I also had to manage being on my girl time. Oh the joys of being a girl! Just adds one more element of complexity (and a little more weight in my pack).  Speaking of which, the starting weight of my pack was approx 9.5lbs, which included everything including water and food. 

Here is a list of other things that I had to manage along the way. 

  • I sprung a leak in my BeFree while filling it up at a creek. Luckily I had tape to fix it. 
  • My feet: I ended up rolling my feet approx 4 times throughout. That's pretty good actually, and a lot less than I thought I would have to. 
  • I had crazy rashes on of both my inner thighs from trekking through wet weeds for the 1.5 days. 
  • I only came across one very very small water source on Sunday. That meant I didn't drink much (and resulted in me not eating much on Sunday) As a result, I had 3 lbs of leftover food in my pack at the end. 
  • My headlight died at 5:30AM. I'm so glad I brought a second battery or I would of been running in the dark for the last hour. 
  • As I mentioned early, it rained on and off the entire time. I tried to get some rest, but I was wet and immediately got cold in my bivvy. I set my alarm for 2hrs but I was up and going about an hour later. I must of fell asleep a little though, cause I felt pretty good when I got going again. I started running again at 12:15AM. 
  • I got hit in the shoulder by a bat in the middle of the night. That was kind of freaky!!! I've had bats fly around me and my headlight before, but I have never been hit by one!! 

The last 2-3 km were all kinds of weeds. I kept checking my watch cause I really thought I had the chance to break 35 hours. That kept me motivated to keep pushing to the end. Happy to report that I did!! My finish time was 34:55:XX with Jamieson capturing it on video while he patiently waited for me. As always, thank you for your unwavering support and encouragement ❤️

I felt great at the end. I was all smiles and super stoked to take off my wet socks to let my feet breath. Unfortunately that was short lived. I basically got nauseous within 20 minutes of ending and vomited all of the way home. I was so sick for 3 days.  It made work that week interesting to say the least haha

One more section to go!! 

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 won't be easy, but I'm super motivated to give it my all!!

section 1: Niagara (79km) ✅

section 2: Iroquoia (114km) ✅ 

section 3: Toronto (50km) ✅ 

section 4: Caledon (70km) ✅

section 5: Dufferin (54km) ✅

section 6: Blue Mtn (67km) ✅

section 7: Beaver Valley (115km) ✅

section 8: Sydenham (170km) ✅

Working on the video for this E2E - Be sure to check out my YouTube channel to watch.