Gaspesia 100 Ultra Trail was being held the week after we visited Perce, Quebec. I wasn’t up for trying the 100 mile option, but their G10 loop looked interesting and proclaimed itself to be “Probably one of the best 10 km trail running routes in Canada!”
Although not quite the same route as the official race, I set off from the Perce Geopark, the start of numerous hiking trails on the hills behind the town. It was a lovely afternoon so although there were going to be some steep climbs – I was aiming to tackle Mont Sainte-Anne (318m) – at least I was going to be rewarded with great views!
The first section of the trail wound pleasantly through the forest. The incline wasn’t too bad, and there were some nice lookouts along the way (a good excuse for a breather!) The trails were in great condition and it looked like someone had helpfully cut down the trees in scenic locations…
Trying to read the direction signs (in French) while running didn’t work too well for me, and even though I was trying to bypass the ‘Foret Magique’ on Petit Mont Sainte-Anne, I missed the petit part of the sign and ended up in the dark understory of the magic forest, which still had snow! I took it very slowly as I didn’t want to topple over on the icy sections, but it was actually quite fun trying to run through here. And, like everywhere on the hillside, there were some really nice lookouts on Petit Mont Sainte-Anne.
Back on the trail to the summit, there were some very steep sections with lots of switch-backs. I had to resort to walking a couple of times, but even then it was hard work! I finally made it to the top and there was a great vista of Perce Rock and Bonadventure Island. Due to my detour it had taken about 5 km to reach this point, and due to the incline a slow time of 40 minutes!
From the peak, I decided to head back down the road, instead of the hiking trail. This was a really steep 4WD track, with the gravel surface being much more similar to Perth trail runs in the hills, so better training than the snow. However, I chickened out about half way down, after reading the signs advising walkers not to go down the road. I headed back to the switch backs but running down these was more dangerous than the road, any misstep and it was straight down the steep drop-off below!
After coming down for what seemed like ages, it was back up again to the next geological feature, La Crevasse. I didn’t see any other hikers on the next 2.8 km of trail (I had surprised some tourists walking to to Mont Sainte-Anne) and I was hoping not to meet any large animals on my own! The Crevasse was pretty cool, a large chasm in the rock due to weathering. The northern side of the trail also had great views, all the way out to Forillon National Park where we had walked the previous day.
The last geosite on the loop was La Grotte, a small gorge with a waterfall. It was a very pleasant 2.4 km downhill jog to get here and I was rewarded with a pretty droplet waterfall and lots more snow!
All that was left, was 1.7 km down De La Grotte Road until I hit the original trail through the forest and then 600 m back to the Geopark centre. I haven’t run enough (or even travelled enough) in Canada to be able to comment on whether this is one of the best 10 km (I actually did a 14 km loop) in the country. However, I don’t think there are many places where you will have such great views, a waterfall, a large crevasse and really well kept trails through the forest on a comparatively short run. It was very slow though, it was just too pretty not to stop and admire the views while sucking in some big ones trying to recover from the steep uphill climbs! Also, I made Mark hike up part of the route the next day because I had enjoyed it so much and wanted to be able to appreciate the scenery a bit more, so that’s an indication it was pretty special.
Plus there are a few more reasons why this is such a great run: a) post workout hydration at Pit Caribou craft brewery b) post workout nutrition of a huge and super tasty Gaspesie lobster! I think I’d earnt it with my 14 km, 650 m elevation gain run…