Records broken at 30th annual Cabot Trail Relay Race

Published on May 28, 2017

Runner James Murphy pushes hard to cross the finish line first for this year’s Cabot Trail Relay Race. Close behind him is Nick Croker from Toronto.

©Nikki Sullivan/Cape Breton Post

BADDECK — It was the 30th year for the Cabot Trail Relay Race and possibly the closest finish of the last leg of the race in its history.

Only five seconds separated the first two runners to cross the finish line.

James Murphy from the Like Fine Wine Better With Age, UNB Cross Country Alumni team, pushed through first with a time of 1:05.52. On his heels was Nick Croker from Toronto’s Black Lung team, with a time of 1:05.57.

Pain and agony were on the faces of both runners as they fell to their knees immediately after crossing the finish line. However, once they caught their breath, their excitement and happiness were evident.

“It feels pretty good,” said Murphy. “I didn’t know where I was, I was aching, dying a little. The hills were the hardest. I didn’t study the map before so I didn’t know what was coming”

Croker, whose all-male team came second overall, admits he did push his body to the limit.

“I did throw up a bit, so I feel a bit sick, but it feels so good at the end. It makes the beer taste better,” he said.

“The final 100 metres is so amazing. Amazing to have the support of the whole town.”

Croker was referring to the people who line up to cheer on the runners as they finish. Chalk drawings and words of encouragement covered the road while close to 100 people from other teams and the village of Baddeck lined the sides, screaming and clapping for each runner who passed them on the home stretch.

“Coming through there was the best thing that’s ever happened to me in running,” James Forsey of Sydney said. “That was just amazing.”

Dave Parkinson, chair of the committee that organizes the Cabot Trail Relay Race, said the energy created by people waiting to greet the runners is legendary among people who participate in the event.

“It’s infectious — the whole town is into it,” he said. “It’s a pretty cool thing to be a part of.”

Teams come from all over to participate in this event, not just the Maritimes. Many are from Ontario, a few are from the U.S. and this year they had a couple of runners from Australia.

“There was a team this year, called I Thought You Said Rum, who have two runners on there from Australia. They’re here on a work term,” said Parkinson. “They called this race their dream race. I don’t know where else you hear that. It feels good to hear that.”

Parkinson said even though it is a milestone year for the event, for the organizers it’s just another year. The big achievement for them is getting everyone through it, from the runners, to the volunteers and the organizers.

“The weather was terrible this year. But everyone made it. They made it through the dark and the fog and the cold. That’s fantastic. That’s what it’s all about,” he said.

Two records were broken this year. The first was for leg 11, which goes from the top of French Mountain in the Highlands and ends near Trout Brook Campground, just past the Cheticamp visitor centre. Set in 1999, the original record was 47:54 and Erik McCarthy from the Maine-Iacs ran it in 43:48.

“It’s quite remarkable to drop four minutes from that leg,” Parkinson said.

The other record broken was for leg 16, which starts at the Lakes Restaurant in Margaree Valley and finishes at the churches in Middle River. Another Maine-lacs member broke that record. It was Dan Vasallo who clocked 48:11 for that leg, more than a minute faster than the record set in 2011.

Overall Standings

First place, all-male: Maine-lacs, 7th year in a row, time 16:38.22

Second place, all-male: Black Lungs, time 17:16.59

Third place, all-male: Cape Breton Road Runners, time 17:19.18

First place, all-female: The Dal Dangerously Accelerative Ladies, time 22:02.45

First place, mixed gender: Like Wine Better With Age, time 19:14.13

First place, masters (over 40): Alva Road Runners, time 22:19.08