words : katherine warren & michaël laguë
photos: gophrette power
Sixteen weeks of training for a 50km trail running race and you find out that it, along with all the other races, is cancelled in the fury of COVID-19 pandemic. So what do you do?
You could take it easy, shift gears, pour your energy elsewhere, or you go with option B. In our case, option B was to meet up with bunch of familiar faces on the Sentiers de l’Estrie, a trail heading north a few hundred meters from the US-CANADA border. It is there, where we began our adventure, at 07h00 on the nose, on a not-so-idle Saturday.
For those who don’t know, the Sentiers de l’Estrie is a through-hiking trail that covers about 150km in southern Quebec, quite closely in line with its southern neighbour, the infamous Long Trail that crosses Vermont. The plan was fairly simple, to run/hike through the mountains and back to our vehicles which were left earlier that morning some 50km and 3000m vertical gain away.
No race plan, because this is not a race.
It is more like a gathering of friends and friends of friends who found each other under a congruous mental wavelength, that included making the most of the training we had under our belts.
There were two options to this journey. The first was a 50km route with 3,000 meters of vertical gain, or the second, a 30km with 1800m vertical gain, with the possibility to meet in the middle. The crew grew quickly and effortlessly from 3 to 13, seven of which who did the whole 50km.
The day was perfect. No injuries. Nobody got lost or hit by thunder. And the spirits were high throughout the day. Almost no Advil were consumed and we even learned that you could do a 50km run/hike with DC shoes (true story), without any real problem.
The beauty of this day was that most of us, with the exception a few elite athletes with ample experience in ultra-distances, had never ran/hiked as far and with so much vertical in a single day. Needless to say that combined with a heavy dose of endorphins, the feeling of accomplishment was flowing at the end of the day. Or was it the delicious malted nectar that we had in our hands?
Marie Christine Ruffo