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Rounding the ups and downs at Cape Chignecto

Inaugural trail event gets rave reviews

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
Oct. 10, 2017

WEST ADVOCATE, N.S. – Heidi McLellan glimpsed at the elevation graph prior to taking part in the Round the Cape trail run on Sunday, Oct. 8, and she’s glad she didn’t take a closer look.
   The Irishtown, N.B. runner was the top female finisher in the 24K race at Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, one of more than 60 participants in the inaugural event offered by 5 Peaks trail races.
   “Cape Chignecto was amazing,” said McLellan, who finished with a time of 2:55:07. “It is an absolute gem, for the trails, but it was freakishly tough.”

Top three finishers of the 12K endure race at the inaugural Round the Cape trail race at Cape Chignecto Provincial Park on Sunday, Oct. 8 were (from left) Mary Hart (second), Mike Field (first) and Jodi Isenor (third).

Photo courtesy of Mary Hart

   Although the beautiful views of the rugged Fundy coastline helped ease her pain, the course was very challenging for McLellan, who had run the Fundy Circuit Ultra 50K race at Fundy National Park only two weeks before.
   “I went into it not knowing what my legs would have and how recovered I was after Fundy, but I’m not sure anything could have helped regardless, other than some serious hill training,” she said. “I knew I was in a bit if trouble when I met the lad guys near the turnaround point, and the first fella, Steve Reeves, was using two massive branches as poles to try and negotiate up one of the big, steep climbs.”
   Overall first place finisher Kevin Lionais of Vancouver, B.C. clocked about 1,200 metres of elevation gain during the run, which he finished in a time of 2:34:39. He said the trail was very runnable in spite of the crazy climbs and descents.
   “I was having a really fun time out there, enjoying the rollers, loving the mild fall weather, and had it in me to push for that win,” he said. “The race was really well organized for being their first event. Even with the small number of runners, the race was competitive and fun.”
   Lionais was on vacation, visiting family in Cape Breton, and said he had been eyeing up Cape Chignecto for some time. He was excited that his parents were able to come and see him finish.
   Although he started out fast, he took it easier on the first climbs, and managed to catch Reeves just after the turnaround near Refugee Cove.
   “I’m coming back from a knee injury, so the downhills were rough,” said Lionais. “I concentrated on putting distance between myself and the other lead runners on the flats and climbs.”
Reeves finished in second place with a time of 2:40:01, followed by Jean-Sebastien Levesque at 2:41:09. Finishing second among females behind McLellan was Leah Genge at 3:09:25, followed by Heidi Cooke at 3:23:50.
   For complete results, visit Webscorer here .
   In the 12K race, it was Mike Field of Valley who finished first, with a time of 1:27:49.
   The weather could not have been more perfect, and there could not be a more scenic race around, according to Field, who complimented 5 Peaks and race director Paul Merrigan for the well-run event.
   “Cape Chignecto is an amazing backdrop for a trail race,” said Field. “You get to run through big stands of hardwood with leaves changing colour, and a lot of sweet views of the cliffs and Bay of Fundy. It’s a well maintained trail.”
   As for the race, he said it was a grind.
   “I would have been happy to be finished at the bottom of Mill Brook hill, but that was the turnaround for 12K, so it was right back up,” said Field.
   Finishing in second place was top female finisher, Mary Hart of O’Leary, P.E.I., coming in at the 1:29:08 mark.
   Round the Cape was a great experience to be part of, according to Hart, who is originally from Advocate.
   “The Cape Chignecto trail system is phenomenal, and to have an event of this stature here really brings a lot of deserved attention to the park,” she said. “The race was well organized, however I would like to see more advertisement for it, as a lot of locals weren’t even aware it was taking place.”
   Finishing second among males was Jodi Isenor at 1:33:06, followed by second place female Marnie Oatway at 1:35:06, third female Dara Pelkey-Field at 1:39:50, and third male Derrick Lee at 1:47:24.
   Jessica Reeves was the top female finisher in the 5.6K race, with a time of 55:06.
   It was the trail racing debut for the Freetown, P.E.I. runner.
   “Cape Chignecto provided me with a beautiful backdrop for my first trail race ever,” she said. “I was pushed into this race by my husband, but I am very happy he did, as I have discovered what all the hype is about.”
   The hype will continue into next year, as the 2018 event will include 48K ultra, full loop of the park.