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

The careful art of Cabot Trail Relay team selection

2017 lineup confirmed last weekend

(Above) Brian Merrill of Got the Runs (right) races Shane Patelakis of the Over the Hill Gang to the finish in Leg 17 of last year's Cabot Trail Relay Race; (below) Sheldon Morris of the Cumberland Crusaders climbs Cape Smokey during Leg 4.
By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
Jan. 12, 2017

BADDECK, N.S. – When 80 teams apply for 70 spots in the Cabot Trail Relay Race, Dave Parkinson has the unenviable task of deciding who is in and who is out.
Team names are pulled out of a hat, but that is just the beginning.
“It has some subjectivity, and some don’t like that,” explained Parkinson, chair of the event. “But I’m the only guy who does this part of the process, so, for whatever it’s worth, that subjectivity is consistent from year to year.”
Teams in the 2017 Cabot Trail Relay Race are as follows:
Bruce Trail Mix
Smokey Mountain Daredevils
Pace & Mind
AUS Distance Monsters
Maine Road Hags
Running for Lobster
Black Lungs
Cape Breton Road Runners
North End Runners
Dalhousie Dangerously Accelerative Ladies
They Might Be Runners
16 Capers & Hazel
Where’s My Bike
Oar the Mountain
Femme Fatales
50 Shades of Tartan
Squid Joggers
Cabot Trailer Party
Red Soles
Gagetown Runners
Barbarian Replicas
To Stupid to Stop
Cumberland Crusaders
Bytowne Beauties
Marvelous Mediocres
Herd of Cats
Alva Road Runners
No Pain No Gain
Premature Acceleration
Mullimac Home Runners
Cape Breton Coyotes
Over the Hill Gang
Raging Bulls
The Intense Margaree Salmonids
I Thought You Said Rum
Parkade Roadrunners
We’re a Pepsi Family
Rhino Redux
Highland Hopefuls
Can’t Touch This
Blowing Kisses
Totally 80s
The Acadians
Touch Not the Cat
Can’t Keep a Good Gnome Down
Researchers on the Run
Bell Aliant High Speed
Stripes and Stars
Fredericton Trailmasters
It Seemed Like a Good Idea in December
Cape Breton Fiddlers Runners
Boondock Harriers
Team PEI
Salt Marsh Running Club
Roadside Attractions
Seventeen Runners
Too Slow to Win, Too Dum to Quit
UNB XC Alumni, Like Fine Wine, Better with Age
Team 71
MB Performance
Cape Breton Eagles
Super Heros in Training
Miramichi Lucky Charms
Great Canadian Honking Goose
I Can’t Feel My Legs. Can I Feel Yours?

Waiting List:
What a Chafraille
Pink Panters
Got the Runs
The River Runners
We Thought They Said Rum
Crossfit Juno
Eastern Z Descendants
The Scotiables
Fast Women Happy Men
Only one team is guaranteed a spot in the relay, and that is the team that was voted as having the best water stop at the previous year’s race. All of the other teams are at the whim of the lottery system.
“There is absolutely nothing personal to the selection process,” he said.
The process begins with the drawing of the first 45 teams from the hat. Those teams are in. Next, if the winner of the “Best Water Stop” from last year was not drawn in the initial 45, it is given its spot.
At that point, Parkinson looks at the teams who applied for the previous year’s race but did not get in. If they have applied again, they are given spots for this year, and that can range from two to 10 more teams, or zero, if they were already drawn from the hat.
Then sponsor considerations come into play. Many companies provide a lot of dollars and support to make this event possible each year, and their wishes have to be taken into account. They like to see teams from outside the region come in and participate, according to Parkinson.
“That includes Cape Breton Beverages, who provide us with all the water and everything, because they like the fact their shirt goes on warm bodies spread across the country,” he said. “None of the sponsors are asking us to have a quota, but they are wanting to see the general split we’ve always had.
“Whether it’s the county, the village, Cape Breton Beverages, Cape Breton Tourism, they all want to know where the teams come from,” he added. “It’s an important factor in their decision to fund or not fund the event.”
The unfortunate result is that many Nova Scotia teams often get sacrificed. Teams making it into this year’s event include 13 from Ontario, three from Maine, one from British Columbia and one from Newfoundland & Labrador. Of the nine teams sitting out, eight are from Nova Scotia and one is from New Brunswick.
“We try to maintain the split we’ve always had, and that’s the criteria we use in filling up the spots,” said Parkinson. “By the time we’re done that, there’s typically one or two spots left, and then it just comes down to maybe putting in one veteran team and one new team.”
Each year, around 10 teams end up on the outside looking in, but hope is not lost for all. They are put on a waiting list and, by March when second registration fees are due, it is common for one or two teams to pull out of the event, making room for teams that did not make the initial cut.
Seventy teams is the maximum deemed safe by the provincial department of transportation to be out on the road that weekend, and also the number that seems most feasible from a logistical point of view. Any more people would not be able to fit into the Baddeck arena for the closing banquet on Sunday, for example.
Whatever its challenges, the system seems to work. Teams keep coming back year after year for the unforgettable weekend.