Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Greatest Night of My Life - The Cabot Trail Relay

The Cabot Trail Relay held in Baddeck, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia on the last weekend of May.

65 teams of 17 runners representing from Canada Provinces and Eastern US.

I visit the Cape Breton for the first time since I was a baby with my mom on Friday.

I meet the members of Team PEI at Auberge Gisele's Inn from registration, bib number, timechip, T-shirt and hat.

The relay begins in Gaelic College at 7:00 in the morning.

The Cabot Trail was a 300km road on mountains, ocean views, forests, place to stays and towns.
MacKenzie Mountain, Leg #10

The members of Team PEI each leg following during the race:

Leg 1: Tanya Gregory finished in 1:25:38 and 27th
Leg 2: "Captain" Kim Bailey finished in 1:15:14 and 25th
Leg 3: George Mutch finished in 1:09:58 and 24th
Leg 4: Stanley Chaisson won the leg in 1:11:29 on the Smokey Mountain leg.
Leg 5: Ellen Sherren finished in 1:27:26 and 27th
Leg 6: Sean Flemming finished in 1:34:54 and 45th
Leg 7: Ron Profit finished in 1:23:03 and 57th. I working at Team PEI water stop at 5km.
Leg 8: Johanna Profit finished in 1:04:23 and 23rd.
Leg 9: Jonathan Ross finished in 1:24:32 and 16th.
Leg 10: Andrey Malyshev finished in 1:05:48 and 7th.
Leg 11: Peter Salfi finished in 1:26:44 and 58th.
Leg 12: Ewan Clark finished in 1:16:10 and 28th.

The 13th leg started at 2:02 in the morning at Cheticamp Mall and ended at Joe's Scarecrow and Diner.

The forecast at leg it was moon and cloud and 4 degrees.

I ran with headlight and glowing stick at 15.88km [actually closer to 16.88] on the seacoast and farms.

I finished the leg in 1:21:40 and came in 18th out of 66 teams.

It was greatest night of my life!

I have a little sleep at the start of leg 17.

The members of Team PEI each leg following during the morning:

Leg 14: Blair Salter finished in 1:15:35 and 3rd.
Leg 15: Graham Crate finished in 1:40:55 and 57th.
Leg 16: Pat Ellis finished in 1:10:42 and 17th.

The final leg of Cabot Trail Relay started at Middle River churches and ended at Baddeck court house.

The last member of Team PEI was Russell Christie finished in 1:04:27 and 2nd.

Russell carry the PEI flag to the finish line.

The team race time total of 22:28:38 and came in 14th out of 66 teams, only a serious penalty and late and best team finish place.

I won the draw a Timex Ironman watch at breakfast and wore on.
FULL RESULTS HERE From Atlantic Chip Timing

The awards banquet at Baddeck Arena was held. They travel over 200km from Baddeck to back home in Oyster Bed Bridge in 4 hours. The ferry sail to Wood Island in 75 minutes. I on ferry when I little at Borden.


Friday - The trip over and Team Meeting
Saturday Morning Pre-Race
Leg #1
Leg #2
Leg #3
Leg #4
Leg #5
Leg #6
Leg #7
Leg #8
Leg #9
Leg #10
Leg #13
Leg #14
Leg #16
Leg #17
The Trip Home

Photos from Atlantic Chip Timing
George Mutch's Photos
Photos by Dave Fleet - Team #32 Cardio Arrest
Cape Breton Post Photo Gallery

Results for the other PEI Team:
Teams in place for Cabot Trail Relay
Sixty-five teams to hit the road for annual race, May 24-25
The Cape Breton Post

SYDNEY — The beauty and challenge of the Cape Breton Highlands has once again attracted runners from both Canada and the United States for the 21st running of the Cabot Trail Relay Race, May 24-25.
The maximum 65 team entries will hit the roads again this year, which will bring nearly 1,100 racers to the region for the overnight event.
“A good number of the teams are the same people year after year,” said race committee chair and participant Dave Parkinson. “It’s one thing to come back year after year when you live in Sydney or Baddeck, but there are teams from Maine who have been coming here since (at least) 1994 ever since I’ve been involved.”
The 298-kilometre, 17-stage race goes through the Cape Breton Highlands, considered by many to have some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. The legs run through everything from steep mountains to the gently rolling Margaree Valley.
Each of the 65 teams can have as many as 17 runners with each assigned one of the legs, while other teams choose to participate with fewer participants completing multiple legs. The event draws a mix of both competitive runners looking for a strong showing and recreational runners aiming to simply cross the finish line.
Among the legs of the course, which vary between 12-20 km in length, many regard Leg No. 9 as the most daunting. That portion requires runners to climb North Mountain.
“There are other legs that are not nearly as difficult, but from my experience, if you can’t run 10K in your sleep, then you’re going to have a hard time doing any leg in this race,” said Parkinson.
More than half the teams registered for this year’s relay are from Nova Scotia, with 11 coming from other parts of Atlantic Canada, 15 from Quebec or Ontario and three travelling from Maine. One of those American teams are the Maine-iacs, the three-time defending race champions. They captured last year’s title with a total time of 17 hours, 43 minutes and five seconds, almost 20 minutes better than the second-place team.
“We have runners from all the provinces from here and to Ontario,” said Parkinson. The Cabot Trail Relay began in 1988 with six teams participating. “We have one team bringing in runners from each province.
“There are some other bigger races out on the West Coast in the United States and British Columbia, but I think that we can continue to bring in runners from Eastern Canada, is a testament to its success.”
The race begins at 7 a.m. Saturday at the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s and continues all day and overnight. Runners are greeted each year by a significant crowd at the court house in Baddeck Sunday morning at about 9:30 a.m.
Along with bringing in dollars to local business, the race also raises about $1,200 in bursaries for each of the four high schools along the Cabot Trail. They include Cabot High in Neil’s Harbour, L’├ęcole NDA in Cheticamp, Cape Breton Highlands Academy in Terre Noire and Baddeck Academy.

Cabot Trail Relay Race wraps up Sunday
The Cape Breton Post

BADDECK — At a total distance of 298km, the 17-stage Cabot Trail Relay Race is a challenge for any team, but when there are just three members on the team, the word challenge takes on an entirely different meaning.
“It was my wonderful idea,” said Jody Isenor while taking a break in the team vehicle after completing the 20km fourth leg which includes an ascent of Cape Smokey. “I work at Mountain Equipment Co-op (which sponsors the team and the relay) and I worked with Dave Parkinson, one of the organizers for sponsorship so I proposed the idea last fall and asked if he would take a three-person team and he said ‘if you know what you’re getting yourself into.’”
Isenor and teammates Mark Campbell and Jan Trojanowski, who all planned to run 99.3km over the two days, may not have know exactly what they were getting into, but they had a pretty good idea.
“We’ve done other endurance events before and we thought this sounded like a good idea,” said Trojanowski, after completing his second leg of the day, the 17.5km sixth leg. “Most of us do Ironman so a lot of those skills spill over into this kind of race and Mark and I are actually going to do Primal Quest (a five-10 day expedition adventure race) next month in Montana so it’s a lot of high endurance stuff we do. We just run a lot.”
“It’s not too bad,” added Campbell, the only one of the three to have previously run in the relay. “We run, we have a bit of a rest and it’s like a new day. We do some adventure racing, Ironman and triathlon, anything that seems a bit crazy, one of us proposes it and the others say sure.”
The three-man team has created a fair amount of buzz among other competitors and all three have been enjoying the support they have received from everyone involved with the relay.
For full story and coverage of the Cabot Trail Relay Race see Monday's edition of the Cape Breton Post.

Winning the Cabot Trail Relay old hat for Maine-iacs
A head-to-head battle from runners from
team 44, Team Grayhound, and team 48,
Aerobic Capacity. Erin Pottie - Cape Breton Post
The Cape Breton Post

By Greg MacVicar
Cape Breton Post
BADDECK — They may be crazy, but they’re fast.
The Maine-iacs from Maine won their fourth-straight Cabot Trail Relay Race, Sunday in 17 hours, 15 minutes and 59 seconds.
“They won it very convincingly,” said race committee chair and participant Dave Parkinson. “They were a little over two hours faster than the next closest team. They’re just highly motivated to come here and win. They have a blast as well, but they’re definitely stacked with very good runners.”
The Eastern Z Descendants took second place in 19:26:08 and the Cape Breton Roadrunners did the island proud, placing third in 19:47:53.
“It was fabulous,” said Parkinson of the 21st edition of the 298-kilometre, 17-stage relay race, which was run around the Cabot Trail and around the clock, Saturday and Sunday.
“The weather was absolutely superb this weekend. It couldn’t have been any better weather-wise all the way around. It was unreal how good it was.”
Parkinson was a member of the Highland Hopefuls and ran Leg No. 12, from the foothills of French Mountain into the community of Cheticamp, starting at 12:30 a.m. Saturday.
“You stand out there before it starts and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘You know, I must be mad. Why am I doing this?’ And then once you get going, of course, you feel fine. And when you’re done you feel great, because you’ve done it.”
Parkinson said some of the runners on the night shift wear headlamps, but he prefers to let his eyes adjust to the ambient light.
“Any time I’ve run over there, there’s been enough light from either cars going by or just the light of the sky,” he said. “You do get used to it.”
The event concluded Sunday at the Victoria Highland Civic Centre in Baddeck with a banquet and a meal for almost 1,200 people catered by the Baddeck Lions Club.
“It’s probably, from my perspective, one of the more impressive aspects of the event,” said Parkinson of the Lions Club members feeding that number of people and cleaning up in about two hours.
Parkinson said he received positive feedback on this year’s version of the relay from several participants such as a group of Maine runners he spoke with at the Bras d’Or Yacht Club in Baddeck, Sunday.
“They were commenting about how they love the Cabot Trail Relay Race and they love coming to Canada,” he said. “They just love this race.”
For further results, see B4.

Mainers Win Cabot Trail Relay

Written by Jeff Walls
Thursday, May 29, 2008
BADDOCK, N.S. — Several Maine teams made the journey to Nova Scotia on May 24 and 25 to participate in the grueling 185-mile long Cabot Trail Relay Race.

Residents from Hancock County had phenomenal success as two teams with members from the county won the two-day-long foot race.

It was as close to perfect a year as it gets for the Maine relay teams.

With only six days of recovery after setting his personal best time at the Sugarloaf Marathon last Sunday, Judson Cake of Bar Harbor opened the Cabot on Saturday with a new course record on the first relay section.

Cake set that record even though the first three miles of pavement were completely torn up and he was running up and down the hills on just a base of loose crushed stone.

The Maine-iacs then went on to win nine of the relay sections, never placing below fifth in all 17 legs. Four of the Maine-iacs, (Cake, Bar Harbor native Evan Graves, Steve McCarthy and Robert Gomez) ending up running double legs and these four produced seven wins just among themselves.

Newell Lewey and Erik McCarthy were the other leg winners.

The Maine-iacs’ finishing time of 17:15:59 was two hours quicker than the second place team and also nearly a half-hour quicker than the Maine-iacs’ winning time in 2007.

On the women’s side of the event, after many years of finishing second, the Maine Road Hags team (of which Shannon Horton of Trenton is a member) put everything together and took first place, setting several leg records in the process.

The Cabot Trail Relay Race is a 185-mile, 17-stage relay race along the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia beginning in Baddock. Legs vary from 12 to 20 kilometers in length and in difficulty from steep mountains in the Cape Breton Highlands to the gently rolling Margaree Valley.

Competitive and recreational runners are welcome, but to keep the race moving along, runners must maintain a minimum pace of 10 minutes per mile. Runners under 16 years of age are not permitted to participate.

In 1988, the idea of holding a relay race around the Cabot Trail was created, and six teams of 17 runners per team tested out the feasibility of the idea. Thus was created one of the largest and most popular running events in eastern Canada.

Now 60 teams from across Canada and the United States compete in an event marked by team spirit and camaraderie.

More than 1,000 runners travel the Cabot Trail, which offers some of the most challenging and spectacular terrain in North America.

The race takes place at the end of May in the shoulder tourist season and has done much to boost the economy of the small area, encouraging community groups to host fund-raising events at the time of the relay.

The race makes a contribution to the three hospitals along the race route, and in 1995 was instrumental in setting up bursaries for each of the four high schools on the Cabot Trail.

“It’s a great event — truly the high point of the running year for most of us,” said Maine-iacs member Brian Hubbell of Bar Harbor.

“You get to carpool nine hours to Cape Breton in cars completely crammed with gear, then race beyond your limits through some of the hilliest roadways in North America. Add to this, cheering yourself hoarse, surviving on re-hydrating beverages and Tim Horton’s coffee and oat-cakes, and not sleeping for 36 hours,” Hubbell said.

“And then the whole way back in the car the only thing anyone can talk about is how much they can’t wait to come back again next year. It’s an endeavor that’s just unfathomable to anyone who hasn’t participated in it.”

At Cabot, the Hancock County runners on the four Maine teams were:

Maine-iacs: Cake, Matt Hougan and Hubbell of Bar Harbor and Graves, now of Presque Isle.

Maine Road Hags: Horton of Trenton.

Rhino Redux: Sue Foster of Bar Harbor.

Maine Running Fossils: Lou Ingrisano and Judy Blake of Bar Harbor, Tom Kirby of Ellsworth and Robin Emery of Lamoine.

Introducing Team Baby's Breath -

CFSID's National Team in Bringing Hope and Life to Canadian Families

    TORONTO, May 16 /CNW/ - The Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant
Deaths (CFSID) is pleased to announce Team Baby's Breath. This National team
will be participating in the Cabot Trail Relay Race May 24-25, 2008. This
unique fundraiser is very inspiring. "It's hard to imagine competing with
other not for profit agencies like the Cancer Society or Aids Canada, but we
do this each year. We may not be as big or have the manpower of these large
organizations but we have the same heart and hope that they do. Saving lives
is our goal", said Courtney Powell, CFSID Race Coordinator.
The Cabot Trail Relay Race is a 185 mile/298km, 17-leg relay race,
consisting of 60 teams of 17 runners each, this year being the first for CFSID
Team Baby's Breath consists of representatives from every province and
Territory. "Each runner is truly an ambassador to their home province, but
perhaps more importantly, each runner is dedicated to the work of the CFSID
and bringing awareness and life saving education to Canadian Families," stated
Irene Morgan, Chair of the CFSID Board of Directors and race participant.
Team Baby's Breath is a unique and varied team of individuals, including:
parents who have been directly affected by sudden and explained death such as
Melanie Peters representing the Yukon to Arthur Warman, an accomplished
marathon runner representing Alberta who runs on behalf of Children's
Sara Deveau representing PEI is our team captain and an experienced Cabot
Trail runner who joins our team because she believes in the cause.
Representing Ontario, Anne Banfield, a seasoned Boston Marathoner, joins
the team because a friend experienced the death of a child. As a nurse, Anne
understands the importance of parent education.
Peter Ma is currently the Deputy Minister of Finance for the Government
of Nunavut. Peter is "deeply honored to be participating in the Relay Race." A
number of Cabinet members are pleased with his involvement and are very
supportive, including his own Minister, who also lost a child to SIDS.
To view all the runners' press releases, please visit our website

Founded in 1973, The Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths
responds to the needs of families experiencing a sudden, unexpected or
unexplained death of an infant or child.

The Canadian Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths
http://www.sidscanada.org/ delivers infant health and safety education through
an extensive network of volunteers in communities across Canada. CFSID
provides resources and services for all infant deaths including miscarriage
and stillbirth with respect to peer support, public education, awareness and
supports Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) related research.

Running For Autism
Not Against It
acceptance not cure


Bev said...

Awesome! I loved seeing all the pictures. Thank you for sharing this, and congratulations on a major accomplishment!

Steve D said...

Congratulations on a race well run, Alex! Thanks for sharing your greatest night with us. Keep it up!

Alyric said...

Not knowing a thing about times and such, but isn't 18 pretty good compared to everyone?

And the Cabot trail is amazing and I would have thought impossible to run since so many bits of it are spectacular and spectacularly steep.

The lobster off the first boat in for the season in Cheticamp was also spectacular:)

jypsy said...

18th is great - top third is a great place to be. Alex had said he wanted to do it in 1:15 but I reminded him it would be dark and he'd be tired and 1:20 was more reasonable. He agreed. He has run two 15Km runs - a very hilly one in 1:20:08 and a flatter one in 1:09:19.
This leg was said to be 15.88Km but my odometer clocked it at 16.8Km so given that distance, his 1:21:40 was a very good time for him and he's really happy with it. We had a few phenomenal runners on the team - Stanley won the run up Smokey, just missing the record by about a minute and a half (having broken the record running up MacKenzie Mountain last year). Andrey, Blair, and Russell were also smokin' hot, finishing their legs in 7th, 3rd & 2nd.

I can't imagine running up those mountains or even watching Alex run up them (but he is likely now hooked on this relay and running up mountains is probably only a matter of time). Except for Smokey, the mountain legs were at night, in the dark. Quite a sensory experience - watching runners in reflective vests with glow sticks in their hands, the smell of brakes & clutches on the downhills, and the sound of people banging on the guard rails with rocks......

It was a fabulous experience for both of us.

Something Alex doesn't mention there -- Kim (team leader) asked if she could tell the race organizer about Alex so he could be recognized at the post race banquet and I gave her the ok. We were saying that perhaps we could undo some of the harm Jonathan Howard may have done there. When his team members asked about Mr. Howard I basically explained and they, like other people I've talked to about this, were outraged by Mr. Howard's message. It seems so easy for people to "get it" coming from Alex and I that it is wrong to "raise autism awareness" by spreading the message that we, and people like us, are a "burden" and should be cured and ultimately prevented from existing in the first place. I guess more people need to hear it from those of us on the spectrum......

Anyway......the first announcement made at the banquet as he started the awards etc. was something to the effect of "Team PEI wants to acknowledge and announce that one of their team members is autistic and he runs for autism awareness". At that point Alex lit up, stood up and took off his hat and waved it, turning around so see everyone (our table was pretty much in the middle of them all, the banquet was in the local rink). Then, the roughly 1,200 runners there stood and gave him a very loud standing ovation.

Later a man approached, shook Alex's hand and asked him how old he was when hew started running. He has 5 & 7 year old autistic kids, a boy & girl and was very inspired to hear of Alex's running.