Barrie, Ont., ultrarunner Chantal Demers has had a solid couple of months chasing FKTs (fastest known times), and all on Ontario’s Bruce Trail. In March, she broke the record on the 83 km Niagara section of the trail that stretches from Queenston to Grimsby, following that up a month later with an FKT on the 117 km Iroquoia section between Grimsby and Milton. On April 23, she picked up from Milton and carried on another 48 km to Caledon Hills, setting yet another record along the way. Her goal is to break the FKTs on all nine sections of the Bruce Trail in 2023.
These are not the first FKTs of Demers’s summary. In fact, she has more than 20 others to her name, and she owned the entire Bruce Trail FKT for four years after running the nearly 900 km route in 12 days in 2017. She started her current Bruce Trail sections project on March 9, embarking on the 83 km route from Queenston, the start of the Bruce Trail. This section features more than 1,300m of elevation gain, but that didn’t slow Demers down too much, as she navigated the tough, challenging trail at just under nine minutes per kilometre.
This was the toughest FKT of the three on the Bruce Trail for Demers, as she actually tried it a couple of weeks earlier but failed to complete the route. That was in late February, and poor trail conditions forced her to stop after 60 km. On her second attempt, she made it to the finish line, just squeaking under the previous record for two minutes. The FKT had stood at 11 hours and 45 minutes since 2021, and Demers managed to post a final time of 11 hours and 43 minutes.
Next up was the Iroquoia section on April 9, and this time, Demers didn’t need a trial run. Picking up where she left off on her previous FKT, she set out on the 113 km route. This section is not only longer than the first, but it also features much more elevation gain, with the grand total hovering above 2,100m.
The record for this section was more than 28 hours, and unlike the Niagara section, Demers had no trouble beating this one. She smashed the 28-hour mark, running under-20 with a final time of 19 hours, 47 minutes.
Finally, the Toronto section, spanning from Milton to Caledon Hills almost 50 km up the trail. Once again, Demers had no issues beating the previous FKT, which was set at nine hours, 38 minutes in July 2022. In her post-run report on the FKT website, she wrote that rain made the rocks and boards along the route quite slippery , and although she ran cautiously, she finished “two hours faster than planned” in six hours, seven minutes.
There’s no word on when Demers’s next attack on a Bruce Trail FKT will come, but one thing is for sure: whoever owns the record at the moment probably won’t have it for much longer.