FKT: Chantal Demers - Western Uplands Trail (ON, Canada) - 2020-06-30

Route variation
Loop #2 (56km)
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
8h 55m 49s

Algonquin's Western Uplands is full of beautiful lakes and rugged (yet well maintained) single track trails. Although, I must say, there are quite a bit of muddy sections and 2 beaver dams that will unavoidably soak your feet and then some. I will start my report by stating that I wasn't 100% recovered from my last 387km FKT on the Garanaska Trail. Why did I do it, you ask? 4 years ago, a group of amazing women (the Wild Bruce Chase) and ran a 900km relay on the Bruce Trail that began on Canada Day. Every year since, I attempted a FKT to keep this tradition alive. Yes, officially this FKT was 1 day before Canada Day, but that's tradition continues in my mind. 

I road tripped up to the Park with my boyfriend Jamieson Hatt. He ran the loop unsupported clockwise and I ran the loop unsupported counterclockwise. Starting at 5:51AM (a few minutes after Jamieson started), I felt pretty good for approx. half of the elapsed time. However, I made a big navigational error at Rainbow Lake! Ugh, still now...I can't believe what I did. I'm running along tickety boo, when I accidentally ended up in a campsite. That's ok, looking at the map, it looks like the campsite is right on the trail. But where is the trail? There's the privy, that's not it. Circle around the site again! Nope...privy again. Fudge! Circle around again...privy AGAIN! Did I miss the trail? I decided to backtrack and that's when I see the orange camping poster. Ok, shoot, I know what I did now, time to make up lost time. Run run run... wait a sec, the trail is familiar. Are those my foot prints. Double Crap! Take out my compass and sure enough, I'm running West and have been for at least 10 minutes. Ugh... turned around and tried to not let this error consume me. (Side note - I've attempted this FKT with 2 of my girlfriends last year and a navigational error around Maggie Lake made it a #failed attempt). I didn't want to have to come back a 3rd time, so I pushed forward. 

Unfortunately, the wheels fell off a couple of hours later. It got incredibly hot++. Thank goodness for all of the lakes and streams. I had plenty of water sources to fill my BeFree bottle, soak my hat and splash my face/neck. But the reality was, my legs were tired. There were many technical sections in the last 20k that brought me to a crawl. There were downed trees too, which didn't help. The goal of breaking 8hrs, turned into 8:30 hrs...and then 9hrs! I'm glad I still managed that. I reminded myself to run like every 2 minutes haha. All in all, I'm happy I went and did it. What's the saying? You don't have to be the fastest! You just have to be the first! :) 

NOTE: I recommend that runners run this trail clockwise. I don't recommend it counter clockwise because you'll end with the technical stuff. Doing it clockwise means you could open up and really cruise during the last 8-10km (especially the last 3k). 

I'm super proud of Jamieson, who crushed it!! Way to go babe!!