Your information hub for running in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island

Teams arriving for 30th anniversary Cabot Trail Relay

Maine-iacs pursuing seventh straight victory

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
May 26, 2017

BADDECK, N.S. – When explorer John Cabot reached this shore in 1497, the idea of 70 teams of people gathering to run along the mountainous coastline likely would have baffled him.
But ask anyone who has participated in the annual Cabot Trail Relay Race, and they will tell you there is nothing else quite like it.
This weekend will mark the 30th anniversary of the event, and once again teams from all over the Maritime region and beyond are gathering to run, compete, cheer and celebrate all day Saturday, on through the night and into Sunday morning.

The Cabot Trail Relay Race will mark its 30th anniversary this year, taking place on May 27-28.

Andrew Wagstaff photo

Preparations have gone well, according to race director Dave Parkinson.
“We have a fairly good-sized checklist, and have been meeting regularly to put checkmarks beside things as we work our way through it,” he said. “Now we’re just waiting for everyone to arrive, with fingers crossed there will be no surprises between now and then.”
With 17 legs stretched 276 kilometres around a part of the province where winter is normally a little bit later leaving, road and shoulder conditions are always of chief concern to the organizers. To their good fortune, provincial transportation crews often make an effort to get out and clean up the shoulders prior to the race, and it appears they have done so again this year, according to Parkinson.
“For the most part, the road is in pretty good shape,” he said. “Some sections of shoulder here and there are a little rough but that’s normal. Given the massive rain we had, actually they are in pretty good shape.”
Last year’s event saw road construction projects taking place in some areas, including Legs 4 and 11, and this year will also see some roadwork, mainly in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Some sections of road have been reduced to gravel, which could turn muddy in the event of rain.
Other sections on North Mountain (Leg 9) and French Mountain (Leg 11) have been reduced to one lane, but Parkinson assured they have a plan in place to deal with that. None of the routes have been altered.
As for the weather, runners can expect the normal mixed bag of conditions when traversing the highlands.
“The weather is not going to be warm, but we generally run into a lot of problems when it’s hot, which it can be,” he said. “If we had to pick hot versus cool with a little rain, I’d take cool with a little rain any day.”
From a competitive standpoint, the team to beat will once again come from south of the border, as The Maine-iacs will return in pursuit of their seventh straight championship. They will not be without competition, however, as this year’s team roster also includes perennial contenders like the Black Lungs from Ontario, and local favourites the Cape Breton Road Runners. Parkinson also has en eye on the AUS Distance Monsters, a team including many former university cross-country runners.
“There are usually four or five up there in the running,” he said. “The Maine-iacs are pretty impressive because they can pretty much always rise to whatever occasion is brought to them.”
The race will get underway Saturday morning when Leg 1 kicks off at The Gaelic College in St. Ann’s.