On Saturday July 13th, I had the opportunity to race the Summit 700 at Blue Mountain. This was my first experience doing a trail run, and man did I ever choose a race.
Coming from Durham, the two hour drive was pretty smooth at 6am. I forgot how far Collingwood was. For those in the Newmarket and Orangeville area, this is quite the local race.
The Summit 700 has three race options, a 6km, 10km and half marathon. I opted for the 6km run just because of my underlying fear of it being my first trail run experience. The major challenge come about a kilometer in when you have to run up the ski hill (twice if you choose the half marathon option). I was thinking it was straight up Happy Valley or another ski trail, but rather it is a steep trek up the forest path just beside the ski hill. It makes for a nice shaded run which is helpful this time of the year. The climb is long, very long. I did my training runs in the Rouge trails in Toronto climbing up the hill, but nothing compares to this. It starts with a slow jog, to a fast walk, to a crawl up the hill. Your legs start to burn, and continue to burn, only ending when you get to the top. But what a view when you get to the top! You only get to enjoy it if you can catch your breath for a moment. I managed to finish the climb in under 15 minutes (they have a separate times section for the climb). After a kilometer at the top of the mountain you start your decent down. I think going down was worse than the climb as you need to control yourself from flying off the steep rooty sections and stairs. You end the course running through the rest of the open ski hill back to the start.
The race experience was truly amazing. As you cross the finish line a medal is placed around your neck and a cold Powerade in your hand. Various sponsor tents were setup giving away a ton of samples. You even had the option to race in some of the newest Saloman trail shoes if you wanted too.
This was only the second time the Summit 700 had taken place as the field grew since the first race last year. I can only assume this race will continue to attract more and more trail runners looking for an awesome and unique experience.
If you want to push yourself in a truly unique trail running experience, look no further than the Summit 700.