My Simcoe County Loop project was originally planned as a late Spring self-supported group project with my running friends. However, due to the seriousness of COVID-19 and the importance of social distancing, (not to mention the trails closing all around us), I made the last minute decision (literally, at 1:30PM on March 27th after reading about rail trails closing near Toronto, I brainstormed with my boyfriend over dinner and started packing with what I had in our food cupboards at 7:30PM). I’m a healthcare worker and I didn’t want to put myself or anyone else at risk. Because of that, I ran the loop as a solo, unsupported effort. That means, no stopping at stores along the way, no stopping in public facilities, and no pacing or accepting any outside help. I filled my water bottles using what the trail gave me, when required. Lastly, I carried my food and supplies in my Ultimate Direction FastpackHer 30 pack (food++, safety items, rain gear, extra socks, & bottles).
I started the loop near Snowvalley Ski Resort (Snowvalley Rd and Vespra Valley Rd, Springwater Twp) @ 03:32AM. It was recommended to me to go counterclockwise, so that’s what I did.
I started off super conservatively. It was in the middle of the night after all!! Headlight on, I enjoyed the incredibly quiet trail until the birds woke up and joined me. The trail was a mix of limestone and snow covered paths. You’ll see in the pictures there was no rhyme or reason to the snow, other than I live North of Toronto and it’s still March! :)
Even with no taper, 4 hrs of sleep and a heck of a work week, my run went incredibly well. My goal was to run the 100 Mile loop in approx. 24 hrs because that’s what I ran my last 100M in (2019 “Gong Show” race) Feeling great, I was mindful to not push the pace as s*&% can get real, real fast. I took brief (2-3 min) hiking breaks every 30 minutes or so. Every 3 hrs, starting at the 6 hr mark, I stopped, took off my running shoes to roll out my feet with a lacrosse ball. I chronically have sore feet (dx Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome) and rolling them out really seems to help delay the pain. I think I only sat down 3x during the elapsed time. I ate while running or hiking...because we all know, any forward progress (no matter how slow it is) will get us to the “finish line” that much faster.
The loop is full of wondering sights. It passes many wetlands, nine municipalities, and reaches three major bodies of water, including Georgian Bay, Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching. The large bodies of water were still frozen however, so I couldn’t use those to refill my bottles.
My favourite parts included passing Saint-Marie of the Hurons, the art in Penetanguishing and the incredible support I got on my Facebook Running page. I posted my progress a few times and everyone was SO encouraging. I love those peeps! Thank you EVERYONE!!
My racing and FKT history tends to be on terrain that is technical, hilly or/and mountainous. This loop was flat and not technical, however I would be carrying my fastpack, so I just wasn’t sure how it would go. I was pleasantly surprised!! During the journey, I had tons of time to reflect on current world events. We must all do our part! That includes staying in our region, practicing physical distancing, and connecting with our loved ones virtually. We’ll get through this!! #flattenthecurve
Weather: 0C to start, with a day time high of 10C. There was rain in the forecast, but it only spit for 5-10 minutes mid-day. It basically just rained long enough for me to put on all of my rain gear. Once my rain gear was one, the sun came out. You’re welcome everyone!! I took off all of my rain gear shortly thereafter.
PS. The Simcoe County Loop circumferences the County that I live in and work for. It is a gravel biking loop that I aspired to run for a while now. Mission accomplished! Perhaps when this pandemic is over, I could run it supported and see if I could improve my time. Hmm……
Special thanks to Jamieson who is always there encouraging me and my projects!!