By Mike Williscraft
Imagine running a 42 km (26 miles) marathon, and when you finish it, run another – no stopping.
Then imagine this was done not on a flat, well-paved road, but actually on the Bruce Trail.
That is what former Grimsby resident, Meredith Parker, and her friend, Heather Grieve, completed on Sunday.
In one day, they ran the entire Niagara Section of the Bruce Trail from Grimsby to Queenston, a projected distance of about 80 kilometres. For those unfamiliar with the trail, it follows a blazed path through forests, up and down the escarpment, over rocks and roots, traversing stony stream beds, sometimes perilously close to the edge of 50-metre gorges, with hidden hazards of stumps, crevices, and animals.
Parker and Grieve began their trek from the base of Mountain Street at 6:15 a.m. with headlamps and flashlights. It would be more than an hour before they viewed a brilliant sunrise. Their lights flashed in the eyes of racoons, possum, and even an occasional deer.
Their first stop for a brief 10-minute rest came as they reached the top of Ball’s Falls, after 26 km, at 10:30 a.m.. There, they met up with Meredith’s father, Grimsby resident Greg Parker, in his role as support crew, with supplies of nutritional foods and fluids, and change of clothing.
Next was a 24-km run to the Morningstar Mills in Short Hills Provincial Park where they met up with Greg again, at 3:15 p.m.. They filled up on a fast feast of potatoes, granola bars, electrolyte drinks, and salty treats, and moved on to the next leg.
At 6:15 p.m. they met up with Greg at Glendale Road, completing their third leg of 14 km, where the Bruce Trail briefly emerges off the escarpment to enable hikers to cross under Hwy. 406 before re-entering the forest trail. Leaving Glendale Road at 6:30 p.m., they expected the final 19 km would have them reach Queenston by 9:15 p.m. Unfortunately, for reasons unknown to them, the Bruce Trail route had recently been re-directed, adding an extra 5 km. They reached their final destination in Queenston, at a monument marking the southern end of the Trail, at 10:30 p.m. In all, their GPS marked 85 km in their one-day run.
For Meredith, there was more to this than just a challenge. With the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon supporting the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation going virtual this year, her inclination was to run the full marathon, the half marathon, the 10km and the 5km run all in one day. It ended up being about six kilometres longer.
As well, Meredith’s goal was to raise at least $1,500 for the cause toward the cure of cancer, as her father, Greg, has been undergoing cancer treatments at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre over nearly three years, including 33 chemotherapy immunotherapy transfusions.
With only one more scheduled to complete his treatment regime, Greg says, “I’ll get to ring the bell!”
For Meredith and Heather, who have run many full marathons over the years in Toronto, Boston, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other locations, this was their greatest challenge. Thanksgiving Monday allowed them a full day of rest and recuperation, before returning to their weekday jobs, and more weekend training for the next adventure.