An area runner has smashed an endurance record for the Bruce Trail.
Karen Holland sprinted past the previously held female record for running the 900-kilometre trail by a full three days, and surpassed the previously held male record by hours. Holland started her trek on Sept 3, and completed her run in eight days, 22 hours and 51 minutes.
“I have been involved in ultrarunning for the last 10 years and therefore training has been a decade in the making,” Holland told CollingwoodToday.ca. “I wanted to focus on doing lots of training miles on the Bruce Trail and with COVID-19, it has been the perfect time to explore my own backyard.”
Holland was raised near London, Ont. and attended university in Waterloo. She has lived in Kimberley, Ont. for the past two years. Describing herself as a passionate ultra trail runner, she says her day job as an IT manager for Proctor & Gamble helps her to bring a numbers approach to her running goals.
“I’m very numbers-oriented so I love the math in running,” she said. “I love the flexibility and mostly the simplicity of the sport. Running was a great way to connect with friends on the trails and build meaningful relationships based on a common interest.”
The Bruce Trail is 900 kilometres and runs from Tobermory to Niagara. The previous male FKT (fastest known time) record for the Bruce Trail was made on June 27 and was held by Kip Arlidge at nine days, three hours and 27 minutes. The previous female FKT record was held by Barrie runner Chantal Demers from 2017 at 12 days, 15 hours and 14 minutes.
“FKTs are set up to challenge an individual to move as fast as they can on a defined path; therefore, I set out to do exactly that,” said Holland. “I knew that the FKT records were an extremely stretch goal as my entire body had to hold up for multiple days, which I had never put it through before.”
Not one to shy away from planning, Holland says she mapped out a plan to run approximately 100 kilometres a day. For the last two days, she planned to run 250 kilometres each day.
“This was daunting as it was the highest single-day mileage I had run...on already-tired legs,” she said. “I decided to shorten my sleeping hours on the second last night to only a three-hour nap and then with an all-nighter the last evening.”
“I expected to have more emotion when reaching the endpoint, but I think I was so exhausted that even happy tears were not even possible. It was just absolutely fantastic to share the journey with my friends and family,” said Holland.
In support of the Bruce Trail, Holland set up a GoFundMe for her run to raise funds for trail maintenance.
“The trail is available to anyone and everyone and is a stunning ribbon of the wilderness that takes a tremendous amount of effort and time to upkeep,” said Holland. “I volunteer for the Bruce Trail already and have seen the dedication from volunteers first-hand. I hope the donations can be used to make the Bruce Trail available for anyone to explore.”
Holland says the most integral part of her being able to achieve the new record was support from the community.
“The endless support from my running community, parents and avid Bruce Trail hikers made this experience that much more special,” she said. “It would be impossible to execute something like this on your own and the incredible community and outpouring support inspired me and kept me moving every step of the way.”