At 300km, the Marathon of Ontario Summer Edition is officially the longest six day footrace in the world. It is probably the longest multi-day race out there, but we don’t like to brag until we know for sure.
Plus, if that is not enough, we think it is the toughest, which is why it is aimed at experienced runners.
From Day 2:
No one could have predicted how today’s stage would play out, and the many tests that would be dealt to the runners over the 59 kilometres. The day started in two waves based on the finish times from Stage One, the first group departed at 0730, followed by the second at 0930. The opening section of the stage was straight into remote technical trail, testing the runner’s legs from the tough first day. The only distraction was the amazing views over Georgian Bay from the many lookout points.
From the outset everyone knew it would be a warm day, however by midday and the 20km point the temperature was up to 28 degrees, with the humidity at 82%. This did not bode well for the next 16km of gravel tracks, which would reflect the heat back up at the runners, sapping their strength even more.
During this period the event took its first casualty at CP3. Justin fell on Stage One hurting his hip, and had soldiered on to this point with much discomfort. The decision to call it a day was a hard one, but one that had to be made so as not to make the injury worse.
Everyone else pushed on, all suffering in the heat. This showed in the average time of 7 hours for the back markers at halfway as the pace slowed. The leaders however we still going well, reaching the same point in 4 hours.
As the runners entered the final third of the stage, they were met by another technical section as well as heavy rain from the expected thunderstorms. This made going underfoot even more slippery on the rocky single track and fading light.
After 8hrs 15mins Rhodri Darch and Bruce Grant again finished together, but it was evident that the conditions had take much more out of them than they expected. Next in were James Adams and Andy North, four minutes apart but over 1hr 45mins back.
As darkness began to set in Chris MacMillan and Jo Kilkenny would both finish the stage after 11hrs and 12hrs 40mins respectively on their feet. It was not until after 11pm when Paul Byard crossed the line, flanked by a number of the crew who had backtracked the course to help him navigate the now dark forest trails. He plans to wait until tomorrow to decide whether to continue.
The day’s stage proved far tougher than anyone expected, highlighted by the comment that “I would expect to feel like this after four days in the desert, not two days in Canada!”