From Caymanian Compass—July 3, 2001




There was a change of venue from the Rocky Mountains, on the west coast, to the Maritimes, on Canada’s east coast, for Cayman’s Hash House Harriers as they tackled another of that country’s long-distance events over the weekend of 26 and 27 May.  The change was due to the ending of the Jasper to Banff Run after 21 years.  The team was fortunate to secure a place in the younger but equally tough Cabot Trail Run in Nova Scotia.

            The format of the two races was similar:  24 hours, 17 legs, serious and fun teams, lots of hills, but a big unknown factor for the team was the unpredictability of the weather in that area.

            There had been a lot of snow over the winter months and during early May the night time temperatures dipped to the freezing – not so much fun for those race legs started at 3 a.m.

            By the Friday evening most of the team had assembled in Baddeck.  There was a feeling of anticipation in the air and the weekend’s weather forecast was good.

            Race day dawned, the next morning, cold but bright and there was a good atmosphere at the starting area, which was the Gaelic College outside Baddeck.  Runners from 61 teams made the 7 a.m. start time.

            The first three legs were a roller coaster ride through the parish of St. Anne’s.  Myself, Jim Harpell and Keith Abriel tackled the narrow but hilly road, which slowly began to give glimpses of the scenery to come as it wound it’s way along the edge of the sea.  Jim and Keith were race veterans and seemed to know all the spectators lining the route.

            Leg four saw the start of the serious stuff with a 2.1 km climb up Cape Smokey and a steep descent down the other side.  Ward Sykes ran a creditable 1 hr 27 mins despite an injury scare earlier in the week.  Emily Davies took over for the leg through the pretty village of Ingonish.  Emily really boosted the teams spirits by finishing third fastest lady in a time of 1 hr 17 mins.

            By now it was mid-afternoon and the convoy of spectators was growing as the race approached the Cape Breton National Park.

            There was no respite in the severity of the hills over legs 6 through 8 but Tara Holland, Roger Davies and Melissa Shaw maintained the team’s mid-table place with some steady performances.

            At the end of leg 6 the Cayman team made a host of new friends by throwing a rum cake and fruit punch party.  Hundreds of spectators, runners and officials had their first taste of Cayman’s biggest export to the sounds of calypso music on the loudspeakers.  A welcome arrival was the van containing the last four team members who had driven up from Halifax that day.

            By the start of leg 9 evening had fallen.  This was the leg of the famous North Mountain, which in the race description “makes Smokey look like a piece of cake.”

            Tony Keeley, the team’s hill expert, ran a fantastic 1 hr 08 min for the leg to finish in second place.  By now the race had moved to the tip of Cape Breton and it was left to the three marathon experts:  Graham Hampson, Derek Haines and Diana Miller to take us through the night on legs 10 to 12.

            Graham and Derek’s legs were again pretty arduous as Graham had another 6.2 km climb up MacKenzie Mountain, whilst Derek had the same descent down the other side.  Both legs were run in the dark.

            This was the area where we saw the most snow and even in late May it was up to six feet deep by the roadside.  Diana took us into the Acadian region of Cape Breton and finished her leg in the town of Cheticamp.

            Four of the remaining five legs were the responsibility of newcomers to the team.  Roger Yeomans and Dave Hoptroff took us from Cheticamp to the delightful Margaree Harbour.


            This was a gently rolling section along the western coast of the peninsula.  The teams Saturday night base was a t Margaree and those who needed to caught up on some much needed rest.

            The course now turned inland along the Margaree Valley with the added bonus of the dawn to warm things up.  Cathy Harding and John Elliott took us through to leg 16 and it was to Cathy’s husband, Jason, to run the final leg into Beddeck.  He still had not finished with the hills as there was the nasty kicker of Hunter’s Mountain a few kilometres into his leg.

            It was all worthwhile as by 10 a.m. a large crowd had gathered in Baddeck to welcome the runners.  Jason received a well-deserved cheer as he ran the last few yards with the Cayman flag.

            Cayman’s Hash House Harriers placed 30th with a final time of 22 hrs and 37 min 52 secs.  The Nova Scotia team, Athletics East won in 17 hours 26 mins and 26 secs.

            After the race all the teams gathered for a lobster lunch in the local arena.  Prizes were awarded and the officials thanked for their 24 hr marathon efforts.

            The race was a good mix of serious and not-so-serious teams.  There were corporate entrants and town teams from all over Canada and the eastern USA.

            Some of our previous opponents, in the Jasper to Banff race, had also secured entries to the Nova Scotia event.  The support along the roadside on every leg was incredible and the lasting memory for many of the team will be the local scenery with wonderful sea views at almost every turn and quaint villages and towns were strung along the route.