As a woman who struggles to push herself through those extra ten minutes on the treadmill, I’ve got an incredible amount of respect for passionate runners.
Over a thousand dedicated marathon-ers (and just plain runners old and young) flock to the highlands of Cape Breton every May to run one of “the most challenging and spectacular terrains in North America”, state the relay officials. I have to agree with them. Cape Breton island offers a host of activities, communities of friendly folk, and most notably, the incredible and seemingly endless one-of-a-kind views of ocean and highland mountains.
Two years ago I was hired as an assistant to Dr. Paul of Cabot Shores Wilderness Resort and Retreat, where sighting a moose in the woods or an eagle perching nearby is almost commonplace. As a Nova Scotian I had spent much of my childhood exploring the coasts of Cape Breton, as I was very involved in the Celtic community, and I still catch my breath when the sun rises out of the Atlantic. Cape Breton is truly one of the most beautiful places my wandering heart has ever taken me.
Admittedly, I would likely opt for the comfort of a car or even a bicycle but the dedicated runners of the Cabot Trail Relay prefer to take in the sights on foot. The race covers a staggering distance of 276 Km (or 185 Miles) over steep mountains, winding through picturesque communities all along the coast from Baddeck to Margeree Valley. The race itself is divided into 17 legs, with individual start and finish lines, and announcers calling the name and team of each runner as they cross the line. Teams from all over the world and especially North America turn up to participate, raising money for the hospitals and school bursary programs along the trail.
Of all of the individual accounts I’ve heard regarding the race, no one seems to know it better than Gabriela Tymowski, Professor at the University of New Brunswick. Gabriela has run the race herself 12 times, originally of the “Fredricton Femme Fatales” and now representing the “Researchers On The Run”, says,
“Even running up leg 10 in the dark is amazing because you can see the headlights of the cars snaking up the mountain above you as you run, the moon is often out, the stars are shining, and the ocean views even at night are just amazing. Once, while running leg 6, I spotted a whale off shore. What an experience!”
This year, Gabriela will be joining us at Cabot Shores along with Eric Gionet, also a participant of the Cabot Trail Relay and frequent marathoner who has this to add,
“I have competed in the Boston Marathon, the New York Marathon and numerous others but there is something clearly unique about the Cabot Trail Relay. It is the mountains, the air, the altitude, the curves, the twists, the long long climbs and the fast fast decends with other runners taking part for the love of running and the rare opportunity that this event offers.”
Maybe it’s the mountains, maybe it’s the atmosphere, but there’s a quiet inspiration imbued in the trail that has runners returning year after year for the past 25 and has me rethinking the treadmill at the gym and it’s concrete wall panorama. Registration for the Cabot Trail Relay is in Autumn, maybe the “Researchers” will need a new member for May 2014.
Cabot Shores Wilderness Resort
For more information on the relay, please visit http://cabottrailrelay.com/.
And if you’re part of a team or wish lodging, visit here and give us a call at 866 929 2584 (for special rates, say “relay”).
And for a video interview with a previous year’s record holder, click here.