The Bad Thing Trail Race was a new event in Southern Ontario for 2015 on October 31. It featured the beautiful Maitland Trail, fall temperatures, and lots of technical terrain covered by leaves to run on. I was signed up the 50km ultra. Follow their Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/thebadthingtrailrace/
If trail running is your fitness mantra, the Bad Thing is a race you should consider for the 2016 racing season. The drive from Toronto is under three hours as well.
This race offered a 50k and 25km distance and was designed to be point to point instead of a loop or out and back. For the race, the start at Point A was Goderich, Ontario and the finish Point B was Auburn, Ontario. This race is not part of the OUTRace, 5 Peaks or North Face series which most folks link trail running events to in Southern Ontario.
The Bad Thing is NOT a beginner trail race. This is for intermediate and above trail runners and comparable in intensity to the North Face at Blue Mountain, Limberlost near Huntsville or the Haliburton Forest race. The difficulty rating went up another notch from leaf cover obscuring the forest ground obstacles. The Bad Thing also got the attention and participation of my adventure racer friends and acquaintances because they like this sort of challenge. Only about 30 people did the 50km and 50 people ran the 25km race. Sometimes small entry fields are better instead of hundreds of Run the Toaders. Racing off-road in Ontario is becoming more expensive and annoying for race directors and goodwill needs to be maintained with landowners, trail associations and the environmental impact for a race. So the name of this race is spot on.
Race check-In was at the Auburn Memorial Hall (map link) early in the morning before sunrise. You signed a waiver, picked up your race bib, sampled some refreshments/snacks and some had time to mingle and get your running gear ready. All standard stuff before a race and what I would expect before an event. I parked my car here since we would be bused to the start line and run back to the finish in Auburn. They took a pre-race photo of all the 50K participants.
Bus Boarding for the 50km Runners to the start line was at 6:15am sharp! The 25k Runners left the hall at 7:30am to depart for the start line at 8:30am.
The start of my ultra race was in the dark, so a headlamp or carrying a flashlight was mandatory. Headlamps were to be worn for the first 10km portion of the race with the option if being dropped at the first checkpoint if you don’t want to carry it for the rest of the route.
A hydration vest or handheld bottles was a must throughout this race. The could be refilled with water or electrolyte at the aid stations.
More importantly for this point to point race: at each aid station and the Bad Thing climb your bib had to be marked by a volunteer. An important element for safety you might scoff at, but you need to account for all runners on the course. Point to point is not a preferred route choice for a race director. Even the Ontario adventure race series tries to avoid this for a host of reasons and most Ontario adventure races are unsupported anyways (i.e. no aid stations).
Trail Running Shoes. This course needs shoes with a good grip. My North face Ultra’s have Vibram soles.
Long-sleeves or running jacket and racing pants. It was a chilly morning 2-3 degree morning. I find my pants to short transition temperature is about 5-6 degrees.
Compression socks. the ones I have been using a lot lately is the VeBA’s. http://vebainc.com/sport/medical-compression/
Whistle and charged Cell Phone (Strava tracking) in case you run into trouble
Headlamp. 50K race started in the pitch dark.
Hat or buff
2L of Tailwind hydration.
Running pack. My Ulitmate Direction Adventure Vest used for long runs.
The course was marked with yellow flags. In the summer this would have been okay, but in the fall they blend in with the terrain. Pink flags would be the colour of choice here. The race director admitted afterwards this was an oversight to be corrected in 2016.
Staying on Course (!)
The Bad Thing course is marked with the white blazes of the Maitland Trail (same as the Bruce Trail) and mentioned yellow flags. There were also volunteers at various turning points along the course, however it was up to you to follow the blazes/flags and not rely on volunteer directions.
The Race Experience
After the bouncy bus ride to Goderich, most of us stayed on the school bus for warmth since it was nippy outside before sunrise. There was a handy public washroom facility to use at the start.
Several times during the race I lost track of a white blaze for a few minutes. This meant retracing my steps until you find the trail again. The only real good guide is you are following the Maitland River upstream which means the river is always on your right hand side. An interesting part of the race is going though major forest damage from the Goderich F3 tornado of 2011. Everything was destroyed like bent matchsticks and the Maitland Trail Association has spent so much time getting it ready again for hiking and running.
My race goal was under six hours. However, after the first 15km I knew this wasn’t going to be my day so held back the pace and finished with a 6 and half hour time instead. I most likely twinged my knee at the previous Peak to Peak Adventure race in Ancaster. I also fell and tripped twice on the trail in the first 15km contributing to a ho-hum laid back finish. The race seemed more of a struggle than it should have been based on my racing background. A mid-pack finish was perfectly fine with me.
After you finish there was hot, homemade chili along with roll and drinks.
Medals and Awards
Medals were handed out to all finishers. Awards were given to the first place male and female in each category 50k/25k.