If hiking British Columbia’s West Coast Trail over a week isn’t adventure enough, Calgary’s intrepid runners Ian Dyck and Trevor Baine added another dimension to their bucket list item — run it in less than 24 hours.
Emboldened by others before them, the friends were excited to tackle the challenge having accumulated many kilometres to date. Baine has been running marathons and ultras for the past 15 years, and Dyck has run seven road marathons and two trail.
“My thinking was, if I can race 50 kilometres, then I should be able to run the 75-kilometre West Coast Trail,” laughs Dyck, 49.
Like all great quests, theirs was shaped by a few mishaps. For starters, they missed the trail’s opening registration day forcing them to travel south from Bamfield; this meant timing their run to catch the last ferry to Port Renfrew. Secondly, Baine forgot his Peregrine trail shoes and had to run the gnarly terrain in his no-tread Asics Nimbus. “I fell every kilometre or two for the first 20 kilometres, until I got the hang of balancing and not pushing down too hard,” says Baine, 50.
On a cool, misty summer solstice 2022, the pair set off at 5 a.m. The first 20 kilometres twisted through lush rain forest in which they dodged mud holes and climbed ladders averaging four storeys high. They reached the first beach section at low tide and ran the hard-packed sand to the Nitinaht boat crossing.
To kilometre 54, it was reasonably runnable muddy trails. Then it was inland for the last, gruelling section, which included wrestling back Baine’s shoe that had been suctioned off by a mud hole.
Rain started about four hours from the end, yet they decided against sleeping in their bivvy sacks at kilometre 70, the lure to a warm bed in town too great. Darkness fell, headlamps on and watches powered off. They lost the markers for the last five kilometres.
Then they heard the glorious sound of waves and reached trail’s end 17 hours, 20 minutes from the start. Now 10:20 p.m., the next boat wasn’t scheduled until morning, so the duo did what any practical adventurers would do — they swam 400 metres in the dark across the Gordon River.
“Inflated running vests make good PFDs!” says Dyck.
Cars were hesitant to take the wet, dirty and dishevelled pair the five kilometres to Port Renfrew. Ironically, with no cell service, they got lost in town trying to find their hotel. At one point they’d considered adding the nearby 47-kilometre Juan de Fuca Marine Trail to the end of their West Coast Trail run. But now slightly hypothermic, fatigued and fulfilled by the completion of their mission they instead opted for sleep.
Portrait photo by Jonathan Hafichuk
You may also like: Destination Marathons Around the World
Read This Story in Our 2023 Summer Outdoor & Travel Issue
Featuring Alison Jackson, Canadian cyclist and only North American male or female to win the famed Paris Roubaix. Travel the country’s most stunning hot spots by campervan. Become a better trail running by improving your ascents and descents—plus, train outdoors with Canada’s Top Fitness Trainers. Enjoy plant-based summer recipes and so much more.