Race Review: Sulphur Springs Trail Race

Time and Place

Sulphur Springs is organized by the Burlington Runners Club and is held late May in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area, Ancaster, Ontario.

Distances

Moderate to Ultramarathon: 10 km; 25 km; 50 km; 50 miles; 100 km; 100 miles; 100 mile relay

Note: 2017 had a 200-mile option but was added specifically to commemorate its 25th anniversary. To my knowledge, these distances will not be offered in subsequent years.

Course Completed

25 km, May 2017

Terrain

The route meanders through the rolling hills of the Dundas Valley. The trail is nicely packed and nestled within the lush Carolinian forest of Southern Ontario. Set along the Niagara Escarpment, the course is rarely flat and almost never straight, keeping you on your toes for the entire length.

Aid Stations

Perfectly spaced, well stocked, and manned with happy and friendly volunteers. 

Things to Consider

Spring in Dundas Valley can be unpredictable: Weather conditions range from cold and wet to hot and humid.

Held within Southern Ontario’s rainy season, the climate can also lend itself to muddy (translation: fun) trails. Some competitors were unpleasantly surprised by the slippery ups and downs so if you’re not accustomed, it can be a good thing to add to the training regime!

A well-established race and staple within the area, Sulphur Springs draws a big crowd (translation: shared trail and plenty of opportunities to make new friends).

For those thinking of tackling longer distances, the course is designed as a 20-kilometer loop. The long loops mean that 10 and 25 km participants will run a unique course, but those going for longer distances will see the terrain more than once. A chance to dial in those rolling hills!

The May date means off-season training. Don’t we all need an excuse to get out of the house throughout the winter months? As additional encouragement, the race directors hold three (and free) practice group runs on the course prior to the event. It’s a great way to get a feel for the Dundas Valley and meet your fellow runners!

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Memorable Moment

The finish line is at the top of a long, steep and arduous uphill. Coming around a corner about halfway up, I could all of a sudden hear the energetic cheers and cowbells from spectators. Of all the races I’ve participated in, this exuded a sense of community like no other.

The contagious encouragement brought me from a jaunt to a sprint, which ultimately led to a strong and emotional finish.

If only I could thank everyone who was there.

Three Lasting Impressions

1. Well organized

2. Good ol’ springtime race fun

3. So much green

Fun Facts

All proceeds from the race go toward the Dundas Valley Conservation Area. Your registration will help protect this beautiful piece of land!

The event holds the rights to two impressive titles: ‘Canada’s Biggest Trail Race’ and ‘Canada’s Oldest Ultra.’ The 200 mile event in 2017 also marked the first of this distance in Canada with a finisher.

Along with the Squamish 50 and Grand Cache’s Death Race, Sulphur Springs was listed as one of Canada’s must-run trail races for 2017 by Canadian Running Magazine.

Word-for-Word

‘Have you been here before? It’s so pretty! I keep mistaking the trail for British Columbia’ – fellow out-of-town participant.

Would Run Again?

Yes.

Not too easy and not too difficult: I loved every minute of the Sulphur Springs 25 km event.

Living in close-by Hamilton, I am fortunate to have the Dundas Valley (and this beautiful race) right in my backyard. Set in my main training ground, the beauty and challenge of these trails always have me coming back for more.

Next year, a PB or 50 km…? Time will tell!

Considering It?
Check out their website and Facebook page for updates.

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Photos courtesy of Max Robertson Photography

Questions? Happy to answer them. Did I miss anything?  I’d love to hear about your experience!

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