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Speed Attempts


East Coast Trail 220km, Countdown Is On

No Idea Why, But Blogger Not Allowing Picture Uploads Right Now?

It's hard to believe that I'm going to be initiating this run in a little over thirteen hours from now. The last four weeks of my life have been a bit of a blur and though I still haven't posted my West Coast Trail Tail it is about 40% complete.

To be completely honest about stuff right now, I'm nowhere near 100% for this thing, and if it were a genuine race I'd be really concerned about having to pull one outta the hat. Thankfully, though a speed attempt, I know I can suffer through it and still make this thing happen. It is rare that we are ever 100% heading into an event anyways, and with a distance this great it ends up being way more mental than physical.

All I have to do is look back to 2007 when I ran the 130km West Coast Trail + Juan De Fuca back to back. I hadn't run more than 67km in distance or nine hours in time prior to that day. Though I wasn't properly trained for that endeavor my mind was locked in and it wasn't about to let a small thing like inadequate training come between me and my stated goal of a sub 24hr completion time. (23h40m)

On that note, unless things go way better than expected, this will be the first time I've gone over the 24hr barrier while strictly running. My adventure racing background will serve me well on this one.

A Bit About The Trail

If this trail were hard packed and well marked I'd wager to say it could be doable in under 24hr...but that's not the type of terrain I'll be dealing with here in Newfoundland. Though the scenery will be stunning, with sea stacks, sheer cliff side drops, lighthouses, blow holes, and even possible ice bergs and as of late Killer Whales! This will be a true adventure.

Having spoken with Ray Zahab himself and doing some online searching I've been told to expect sections of 'no distinguishable trail', mud and bog potentially thigh deep, and moose paths that often appear as running trails. Hopefully I don't end up running in circles once the sun sets. I've also decided to delay the start by two hours till 6am, as a pre sunlight start might end up being more of a hindrance than a help.

All in all, it's amazing to be sharing this one with my family. My mother has never seen me run before and she's so excited she's been cooking non stop all day long...just in case I decide to stop for a buffet style feed along the way. Dad has already poured over the maps and listed all the best and worst case scenarios, and my brother is nervously awaiting his pacing duties, which will involve joining me for the last 20-30km...he has never run longer than 9km before. My fourteen year old niece is looking forward to trying to stay awake for 30+ hours for the very first time, and my brother's girlfriend is just as worried about him as she is about me!

With support like this, there is simply no possible way that I can't and won't succeed on this journey. Sure I would have liked a few more days to prepare properly, sure I have some injuries that will likely act up, sure I'm about to tackle something I've never even attempted before, but in the end, that's really what it's all about?

It's about pushing your boundaries and exploring your own limitless human potential. For no matter what the obstacles before you may appear to be, they are never quite as difficult or as daunting you can make them out to be in your own head.

I am ready. I am excited. Let's get this thing started!

(please don't forget to click on the smiling child in the top right corner of this blog to help support the third challenge in my Conquer The Coasts attempt)




My BIG Announcement...

(HUGE thanks to David Papineau at Prototye Design for this logo!)

AHHH, I've been waiting to announce this one for months now...and I can finally say with 100% confidence that this WILL least the attempts will happen...

Conquer The Coasts 2010

Canada’s West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island British Columbia, 75km, highly technical with average hiking times of up to a week.

Most famous trail in Western Canada. Trail consists of technical terrain from start to finish. Two water crossings via water taxis and half a dozen more via cable cars. Ladder work consisting of dozens of ladders and hundreds upon hundreds of completely vertical stairs. Boot sucking mud, ankle twisting roots, and a tidal cut off zone at the ¾ mark. This trail is not for the faint of heart and many who have set out to traverse it in a single day have ended up utilizing space blankets, headlamps, and wilderness camping to complete their journey.

Current trail record is a very respectable 10h13m by local legend Kevin Vallely. Kevin recently completed a 650km run across the frozen Lake Baikal with his adventure partner Ray Zahab, and with one additional teammate they set the current South Pole speed record in 2009!

I have run this trail once before, but at the time it was just over half of my intended route. I followed up the 75km West Coast Trail by running an 8km section of road to another British Columbia trail classic, the 47km Juan De Fuca Trail. All in I became the first person to run the 130km ‘West Coast Double’ in a time of 23h40m. My WCT time investment was 12h20m while running from North to South. I do believe the trail is doable in a sub 9hr time frame, assuming some luck with a lengthy dry spell of weather leading into an attempt. (if you have almost 13min to kill you can view my original video of my West Coast Double run you'll see this was before I learned about video editing software!)

My proposed run date will be in late May.

Canada’s East Coast Trail, starting in my old stomping grounds of St. John’s Newfoundland, consists of 220km of rough footing, non-stop undulations and incredible coastal scenery. There has only been one completed running of this trail, ironically enough by Kevin Vallely’s adventure partner Ray Zahab. Ray is a much more recognizable figure within the running world made more famous by his recent documentary release ‘Running The Sahara’.

Ray’s run time on The East Coast Trail was close to 48hr, but having spoken with him personally he reaffirms my initial thoughts of being able to hopefully lower that time to the 24hr range...mainly cause I just don’t wanna run for two straight days! Ray mentioned some issues with route finding along the way, and having run just two sections of this trail myself, all told for 40km, I can certainly sympathize with the navigational issues. All who know me are also currently laughing as my internal compass seems to be resting squarely upon a magnet!

My run attempt is currently scheduled for mid September.

After the media garnered during The Olympics I would hope all are familiar with this organization by now!

As I was plotting this ‘mission’ back in November it took me all of five minutes to realize that I needed to tie my venture to these wonderful people.

Their mission as stated is, “To improve the lives of children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world by using the power of sport and play for development, health and peace.”

My goal is simple, I’d like to lend a hand in raising $5,000 for this incredible charity. Why five thousand? Well, I initially thought $2,950 would have made more sense, since I’m running a total of 295km, however $5,000 just had a nicer ring to it. This is my primary goal with this entire process. If I were fortunate enough to set two new trail speed records but fall short on the fund raising side of things I’d still consider this an epic failure. SO, please help me achieve my goal with this by reaching out to help underprivileged children around the world.

Right To Play currently has programs in:
Azerbaijan, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, China, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Pakistan, Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza), Peru, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, United Arab Emirates and Zambia.

Click here to support my fund raising campaign for Right To Play

(this hyper link seems to be 50-50 for hitting right page, please try a 2nd time if wrong link on first clic)
and thanks so much for your continued online support of my own running endeavors!

Gary Robbins