Back in the spring I was talking to a couple of running buddies about doing a really epic trail run, and the Frontenac Provincial Park Perimeter Trail was what we decided on.
Frontenac Park is an amazing place- it covers almost 13,000 acres of lakes and forest, with road access only at a few spots on the perimeter of the park. With over 100km of trails, it's a trail runner's playground. The landscape is typical Canadian Shield- quite hilly (nothing big, but nothing flat either), with lots of rock outcroppings and lakes. It's an incredibly rugged and beautiful place.
Anyway, back to the story..........
A few weeks ago I contacted the guys who had been interested in running the perimeter trail, and both of them responded (wisely) that due to not having done nearly enough miles in their legs, there was no way they wanted to it right now. I was in a similar situation- since running my last marathon in April, I haven't done nearly enough long runs to launch into a 50ish km trail run (my first time going over marathon distance no less!) but I wasn't about to let a little detail like that stop me, so I contacted another friend, Corey Turnbull, who is packing on the high mileage in preparation for the the North Face 50 Mile at Blue Mountain next weekend to see if he would be up for it, and he said yes with no hesitation.
Fast forward to last Saturday morning- at just before 6am we pulled into the Arab Lake parking lot, put on our trail shoes and hydration packs, and set off.
It was a lovely day for a run- bright blue sky, slight breeze, and at that point in the day, still fairly cool. The trails starts off as a sweet singletrack through the forest, but after a couple of km, you come out into the rocky meadows where the grass was thigh deep (and still soaked with the overnight dew) and completely covering all traces of the trail. For probably 20km we had those sorts of conditions- sections of easy to follow trails, and then sections where we would be standing beside the trail marker and asking "where the heck is the trail????"
My favourite section of the run came fairly early on- about 10-12km in. It's at the southern most part of the route and the trail runs on a ridge between Buck Lake and Slide Lake- you're on top of a very narrow ridge that drops with a cliff on either side to the 2 lakes- absolutely beautiful. Just before you hit the end of Slide Lake, there is a waterfall that comes down into Buck Lake.
By this point in the day it was getting pretty warm- it was up to about 25°C, and the deer flies were horrendous. I was still feeling okay, and Corey looked as fresh as a daisy, so we carried on. I was feeling fine up until about 37km- then all of a sudden my stomach turned. I'm not sure what happened, but I couldn't get any more gels in for fear of throwing up, and the downward spiral began- bad stomach led to not taking any fuel, which lead to no energy, which made the stomach worse..........
Fortunately Corey was very encouraging, and wasn't pushing me too hard. I had to walk all the hills for the last 10km or so, and by then I was very ready for this run to be over. There were a couple of points where we could have taken a shortcut trail to get out quicker, but I knew that if I gave in, I would be disapointed in myself later, so we kept to our original plan.
Finally, 6 hours after starting out, we made it back to the car, headed to the lake, and jumped in to cool off.
That was a tough day for me, but I'm glad I did it. I have a 50km trail race coming up in August, and a 65km race in September, so this was a very good experience for me. I'd like to come back again maybe in the fall when the trail is a bit easier to see, the deer flies are gone, and it's not so hot, and give this trail another shot.