Cody Gillies is possibly a couple days away from not just breaking the record for running the Bruce Trail end-to-end, but coming out of nowhere to shave days off the previous time.

Cody is a 22-year-old construction worker, volunteer firefighter and recreational mountain biker with a very limited ultra-running resume. Yet he’s going strong on Day 9 of his quest to beat Charlotte Vasarhelyi’s 2010 trail record of 13 days, 10 hours and 51 minutes.

Read my profile of Cody here:


Cody’s Blog:


While Cody suffers through the final stages of the trail, he could use a little help reaching his goal of raising $25,000 for the paediatric wing of Headwaters Hospital:


Go, Cody, Go!

Embarking on Ironman 2012

Signed up for the Mont Tremblant Ironman in August 2012. As I write this I am on the stationary bike – seriously. Multitasking will be key to pulling this off with every other part of my life intact. Reminded as I am by this blog that the BT remains unfinished due to lack of time, the choice to do an Ironman appears ironic, dare I say stupid (certain people in my life would indeed dare to say that). But I’ve learned that I can’t go more than a couple of years without chasing some big goal like this. The BT is still hanging out there from from four years ago. Two years ago it was a wholesale career change. This year it will be Ironman. In my wildest dreams, while I am mega dosing on cardio and getting into the best shape of my life, I will find a way to knock off that final 10% of the Bruce during some spare moment. But who am I kidding? The next step, finding a training plan that everyone can live with. How few hours a week can you train for an Ironman, while still feeling like you approached your potential? It is a fine balance, and not many hours ever pass before I return to the question of why I bother. Then I train, I dream, it grounds me, and I have all the answers I need.

Outside magazine strides into the barefoot fad, not for the first time, in their lastest issue:


Like the multitudes mentioned in the article, I read Born to Run and decided I had to try going barefoot. A few early attempts on the beach in BC and wearing Vibram FiveFingers Sprints felt fleet but left me with new pains behind my toe joints for months. Next season I will ease into it.

My personal twist on minimalist running currently involves saving money by running in worn-out shoes. This may be the perfect ease-in tactic, right? Start with regular shoes and keep running in ‘em until there are no shoes left. As the shoes wear out, the feet wear in. It’s an elegant theory.

Winter Run

Icicles hanging from eyelashes post-run is a sign that it’s truly cold. This morning the temp registered -19 with a wind chill of -33 degrees C. I laced up at 5:20 a.m. for a run on the boardwalk with the dog before work. True winter!

Here is what I wear for running below -10 Celcius:

-Two wicking T-shirts, one short sleeve, one long.
-Softshell running jacket
-Polartec briefs with wind-proof panel
-winter tights (inner layer)
-tights with stretch Gore-Tex front panel or Schoeller soft-shell pants (outer)
-normal running socks
-Trail shoes, road shoes, or road shoes with La Sportiva ice studs, depending on conditions
-New Balance balaclava
-Castelli headband
-Shell mitts with fleece liners

The best thing about running in extreme cold is that it doesn’t actually feel cold. I never fail to get a sweat going. My feet are NEVER cold, even at -35, except in some cases of extreme wind in well ventilated road shoes, wet feet or when I’m moving very slowly, like trail running in deep snow. In those cases a pair of Gore-Tex socks goes a long way. Otherwise normal running socks are enough.

The windproof briefs are critical, especially for running into a stiff wind, is breathable clothing to prevent freezing condensation between layers.

With this gear list, the only part of me that gets cold, oddly, is my core. I sweat, the wind cuts through the front of my soft-shell, blood flows well to the extremities, but you could refrigerate food on my stomach. It’s not a painful cold, unlike the price of forgetting the aforementioned briefs; just a gradual, energy depleting chill that takes a long, hot shower or a hot tub soak to cure. I need one of those lightweight vests with the mesh back and insulated, windproof front panels.

The payoff of winter running is being one of the only people out on a crisp, perfect morning; letting the dog roam free; the crackle of trees and fences adjusting to the temp; the tinkle of lake ice brushing the shore; the squeak of dry snow underfoot; nodding at snowplow drivers through a mask of frost, knowing they must think you’re crazy; the satisfaction of mastering comfort in an inhospitable environment; the unique sensation of stripping icicles off your eyelashes; and, of course, the reliable running buzz that you preserve by excising the words “it’s too cold” from your exercise vocabulary.

As all runners, skiers and winter cyclists know, exercising outside isn’t cold. Waiting for the bus on a windy night is cold. Waiting for the car to warm up is cold. Standing still and stomping your feet is cold. Sitting at a computer in an under-heated office is cold. Being on the inside looking out is cold. Self-propelled movement is the best way to stay warm.


Running the Bruce Trail is once again stretching into more of a long-term goal than I anticipated. What started as a summer resolution is turning into more of a bucket list project.

While I prefer not to think of outdoor fun and family life as mutually exclusive, they can be at times mutually adjusting.

Going outdoors these days largely means going local, which is not a bad thing. And what’s further away geographically has become further away temporally as well.

That is, a place’s distance away in space places it a corresponding distance away on the road of life. That puts trail running on the Bruce Peninsula about 2-3 years out, pending a margin of error of +2 years due to the upcoming arrival of baby #2 next spring.

So, I have decided to forgive myself this missed deadline and let it ride for now.

Someday, when I find a big, comfortable space in my life to do so, I’ll strap on my shoes, pick up my pack, and run the last hundred-odd kilometres to Tobermory.

I think I'll take the long way around.
Monday 9 Aug
Kemble to Spirit Rock Conservation Area (Wiarton)
Time: 7 hours
Distance: 37.3 km
Average speed: 5.3 km/h

Tuesday 10 Aug
Spirit Rock Conservation Area to Hope Bay
Time: 8 hours
Distance: 45 km
Avg pace: 5.6 km/h

Total distance to date: 767 km
Distance to go: 118 km

Eighty-two kilometres in two days
I cannot be too impressed with myself because Charlotte Vasarhelyi – who ran the whole Bruce Trail in a new record of 13 days, 10 hours earlier this summer – ran this distance almost every day. However, I am not as fit as Charlotte Vasarhelyi, who trains by running over 100 miles every week. And Charlotte Vasarhelyi did not have to run with a backpack fully loaded with camping gear. This is still more distance than I’ve covered in a single weekend since starting the trail, and it still beat me up pretty good. If I showed you a picture of my toenails, you’d see what I mean.

(I made the critical mistake of wearing trail shoes which I now know are too small, and on the second day wearing Injinji Socks, which take up more room in the shoe by separating each toe like a glove. I will be paying the price until both of my big toenails grow back – until which time I will have to remember to always wear socks in the presence of my mother-in-law, who had already expressed opinions about my feet.)

I drove to Kemble and left my car by the side of the road. Bill and Nancy of The Bluffs B&B in Lion’s Head kindly shuttled my car up the peninsula to Barrow Bay. The Bluffs is part of the Home to Home B&B Network, an association of B&Bs that provide accommodation and shuttle services to Bruce Trail hikers on the Peninsula section of the trail (Wiarton to Tobermory).

I jogged the first day with a 55-litre pack with all my overnight gear, food for two days and about 5 litres of water to start. The Slough of Despond seemed appropriately named as I plodded past it in late afternoon. Its hordes of blood-hungry flies chased me on the long ascent up Skinner’s Bluff.

As I approached Wiarton at sunset, various sorts of pain set in: chafing on my back from the heavy pack, and the rope-like stems of Queen Anne’s lace whipping at my bare legs for hours.

Arriving in Wiarton, I snapped a photo of Willie the groundhog and ordered a medium Greek at New Orleans Pizza. I ate while walking  the last couple kilometres to Spirit Rock Conservation Area where I got spooked by the darkness and pitched my tent. In hindsight I’d have driven ahead to set up camp next to the bike tourers at the waterfront park in Wiarton rather than lugging my gear all day, but I’d thought that I would travel bravely by night and cover more distance, and didn’t want to be committed to a destination.

In the morning I stashed my overnight bag in the bushes near the Spirit Rock parking lot and ran with just my Camelbak. Sticky heat and sore feet slowed me down as I made my way up the base of the Peninsula. I’d meant to bring water purification pills but hadn’t had time to buy them before leaving Toronto, so I ran with a filter and stopped to pump water at Cape Croker Indian Park (there’s a boil water advisory at the park’s taps). In this summer heat at my modest pace, I drink about a litre every 10 km. My Camelbak holds three litres.

I was 3:30 when I arrived in Hope Bay, and I had no hope (!) of completing the distance to Barrow Bay, which was only 10 km up the road but another 20-30 on the trail. I took off my shoes, limped into Georgian Bay and lay down in the water. Then I got up and walked around the bay to the campground store.

Hallelujah, the first person I spoke to offered me a ride. I was still wet from the swim, so he grabbed a wool blanket from the back and threw it over the passenger seat. Half an hour later, I was on the road back to Toronto.

Tuesday 27 July 2010
Distance: approx 42 km
Time: approx 7 hours
Avg speed: 6 km/h
Total distance to date: 685 km
Distance to go: 200 km

Ranger and I ran a trail marathon this day, starting about 1:30 out of Owen Sound and running into dusk, with a car shuttle courtesy of my father-in-law, Phil. A hot day.


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