Monday, 15 September 2014


Nicola Gildersleeve from North Vancouver came to Powell River aiming to break the non-stop running record for the Sunshine Coast Trail. She and her pacers Shauna Connaughton and Meghan Molnar set out from the start of the SCT at Sarah Point on Saturday morning, September 6, 2014 at 8 am. They had been dropped off there by the Lund Water Taxi.

View from Feather Cove (at KM 4 from Sarah Point) of Desolation Sound and the Coastal Ranges to the northeast.

At the Appleton Canyon parking lot at KM 38, Shauna, Meghan and Nicola have completed about 20% of the run. They refuel and rest for a few moments while crew chief Peter Watson takes care of having everything at hand that they need to succeed.

View of Inland Lake from the vicinity of Confederation Lake.

From Inland Lake (elev. 100 m) to Eagle River - which comprised the night time portion of the run - Shauna and Meghan were spelled off by two Powell River pacers who had familiarity with the trail through there, and night time running experience. Joseph McLean ran with Nicola up to Confederation Lake (600 m) and down the other side to Fiddlehead Farm (100 m) where Alston Miller took over and guided her up and over Tin Hat Mountain (1,200 m), down to Spring Lake (500 m), on to Elk Lake (900 m), through the Smith Range and down from Walt Hill (1,100 m) where it finally had become day time again.

A view from Walt Hill on the SCT looking SE over some of the terrain it traverses. The descent from Walt Hill to Lois Lake is a 1,000 m elevation glide. From there the SCT ascends Mount Troubridge (1300 m) before dropping all the way down again to Saltery Bay on Jervis Inlet.
A good breakfast finished off with some yummy apple sauce and Nicola is almost ready to go.

And so is Shauna who will run with her for the last 45 km over the Troubridge Massif. A little more hydration and they will be off again.
The SCT follows Lois Lakeshore for nearly seven km. A few float cabins are permanently anchored on the lower lake. The hills on the right lead up to the summit of Mount Troubridge.

View south from the shoulder of Troubridge. Jervis Inlet in front of Nelson Island, to the left Sechelt Inlet fades toward the Tantalus and Caren ranges.

They've come over the summit of Troubridge now and are heading for Rainy Day Lake. There are about 12 more km to go from the Plutonic pole line. Still going strong, no time to chat, for sure.

At the support station just above Rainy Day Lake Meghan joins Nicola and Shauna again. Meghan had run with them the day before from Sarah Point to Inland Lake. Here they are running along Rainy Day Lake and are ready to turn up onto Blue Grouse Ridge.

They pause at the First and Last Bridge (depending which side hikers are coming from) crossing Saltery Creek, carrying on - now mere minutes away from the end of the run.

One more little hill to descend...

... and they break out onto the parking lot to cheers of crew and supporters.

Nicola grabs the display board of the SCT trailhead kiosk. Her work is done. The finish line. She did it... She beat the previous record by a staggering 10 hours. It had been set 10 years earlier by the only other recorded person (Ean Jackson) to have run the SCT non-stop. Nicola is only the second officially recorded person to succeed in running the SCT non-stop. Trail conditions have improved over this time, and it is better marked and more worn in, but not 10 hours worth. Nicola ran a blistering pace for such a technical course. It was Ean who encouraged her to do the run because he thought that of all the runners he knew, she was the one who could finish the run, and who could beat his time. A few others had sniffed at taking up the challenge over the years, but it took Nicola to do it. Congratulations, Nicola! What an astounding accomplishment.

Ah yes, almost forgot. We have to take a picture of the time: 33 hours and 50 minutes.  180 km non-stop running the SCT that twists through the temperate jungles, up and down the roller-coastal hills and valleys of the northern Sunshine Coast.

Alston came to celebrate Nicola's smashing success. He, and the other pacers and the rest of the crew played an important part. Donna Devine, Nicola's mother, poses with her and crew chief Peter Watson at the SCT trailhead kiosk. Nicola finished her run at 5:50 pm Sunday afternoon, September 7, 2014. All the ups and downs are behind her. The equivalent of about four and a half butt-kicking Marathons end-on-end. Wow. Now smile at that.