The Northern Ontario Tourism Summit unfortunately did not have speeches for award winners this year to keep the pace of the night moving but here is what would have been said had I had the the opportunity.
"This an incredible honour and we at the UTSC congratulate all the nominees in this category and all of our fellow award winners tonight at this beautiful celebration of Northern Ontario.
I am reluctant to stand here as a solo entity and receive this award. An old African proverb says it takes a village to raise a child. I remember the night before the race telling my logistics team, I felt like our water had broke and the baby was on the way.
I couldn’t be representing the UTSC Village here without the help of hundreds of people who lent their support and belief in our little race.
First and foremost.
Thank you to Destination Northern Ontario, NOTO and the city of Timmins for hosting such a magnificent summit and for having us here tonight.
Thank you to The Diamond Hotels Group taking a chance on me as a long serving Southern Ontario hotelier and strategically placing me in charge of the award winning Holiday Inn Express Sault Marie. A move that would significantly change my life.
To the board members of the Algoma Highlands Conservancy. You believed in this vision from day one and without your support and beautiful landscapes, we would not have a race. There are too many magical vistas to count and as predicted, these views are a very valuable commodity as runners came to participate from 7 states and 2 provinces.
Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, Algoma Kinniwabi and the SSM Downtown Association some of who I know are in the house repping the SOO -Woo hoo! You guided us through the process of executing a world class event in our very own tiny backyard. Thank you all for the love and encouragement up to and including race day shenanigans. The Soo and surrounding area are currently experiencing a bit of a renaissance for the outdoor enthusiast. We are absolutely thrilled to be a part of that fabric.
A massive thank you to Stokely Creek Lodge. Currently ranked on NY times 10 best Nordic Ski Resorts in all of North America. Gaylen and Sue Byker, Richard, Alex, Kim, Yvette and Dave.
By happenstance I ended up moving right beside this place 5 years ago when I moved from Kingston to Goulais River. As I gradually explored all of its trail network on foot, this crazy idea started to form….
Thank you to Bob Yankus - A master trail builder, he imparted so much wisdom on our approach to raceday and was always willing to lend a hand when things went awry. Love you Bobby.
A huge thank you to Sean Ruppel at Superfly racing who inspired me to do something crazy.
Thank you to all of our sponsors who threw down and got involved with a first year event with ZERO credibility. Columbia Sportswear, Hammer Nutrition, Great Lakes Honda, Eye Deal Optical and Girl Friday to name just a few that gave their overwhelming support.
Our volunteers. This doesn’t happen without our 75 raceday volunteers. These beautiful people believed in us and our vision and didn’t ask questions aside from "what do you need". This race does not happen without you.
Sault Area Search and Rescue for making sure all of our runners got home safe and sound. They have over 160 km of trail to secure and ensure our people are safe. This was not even close to a hurdle for them as their lead man Dave Rowlinson kept cool calm and collected all day even when I was on the verge of a panic attacks when runners went off course.
The true heroes of UTSC 2019
The UTSC race staff - Cody, Jules, Elise, Grant, Max, Marlene, Dan and Cassi. Always willing to do anything to support the growth of this race and continue to expose the natural beauty of our area.
Allison - You are the only one who truly knows every single thought and emotion I went through leading up to raceday. Your unwavering support, dedication and belief in the vision kept the machine moving forward through all of the ups and downs and as you never doubted for one second, this was a rousing year one success.
The GSN news team. Action Jackson, Steeltown Cody, Go Time Grant, Aid Station Allez and Raceday Dave.
Our runners. You made this thing so much fun. Your unbreakable spirit, will and determination left so many spectators in awe of what the human body can accomplish and many cases tears of joy were shed. Myself included.
Speaking of. As we are in Timmins it is worth noting our one runner who hails from this northern town. Jason. A road runner and mainly triathlete somewhat heard about our little race and was one of the first to sign up in April. As race day approached he was ready. So he thought. He had never attempted an ULTRA distance (anything over a marathon of 42k) and today he would be trying to run 84km. 2 Marathons. On Trail. His family was at the startline and commented after he set out early that morning at 5am, that even THEY weren’t sure what the heck he was doing in this race.
Methodically, this road runner from Timmins chipped away at the rolling hills, screaming single track and daunting climbs of the picturesque Algoma Highlands. He kept making the check points. He had 15 hours total to run the entire course. As his friends and family grew worried at the 14 hour mark, so did the UTSC team and Search and Rescue. We hadn’t seen or heard from Jason in about an hour or so when out of the darkness appeared an extremely exhausted Northern Ontario beast from Timmins, shuffling towards the finish line.
As he crossed the finish line in 14 hours and 30 minutes, a massive embrace was in order with his wife and children and the rest of the UTSC race team. All of us were in tears. So happy to have this very brave soul back to the finish line and celebrating with his people. He was a finisher. What an amazing feat of athleticism.
This race is not just about running. Its about stories. Life stories. Success. Failure. Trying something you weren’t sure if you could do. We have distances for everyone. And everyone who runs with us has a compelling narrative we as human beings can all tune into.
This was year one. We are gearing up to launch year 2 registrations in December and we have a 5 year plan for our Ultra Distances to become qualifying races for the world summit of trail running in France at Ultra Trail Month Blanc.
These mountains in Northen Ontario are no joke and we know that UTMB will not be able to ignore us. Once we get our qualifier stamp? A Gigantic spotlight will be shone upon Northern Ontario the first weekend of every October. We will join qualifying mountain races across Canada in Quebec, Alberta and BC. All in due time.
Have you ever had one of of those moments in your life when you realize a dream has actually come true? This is a crazy feeling.
I’m having that moment right now. In front of this crowd.
I couldn’t be more thrilled to share it with you.
My final thank you of the night, goes to Northern Ontario itself.
Without you I wouldn’t have this beautiful life I have the privilege of living.
Come visit us in October
#WE RUN THE FALL!
Life stories. Fun stories. Run stories.
Formed in early 2018, Bear In Mind Running looks to bring you the best in Ontario's Trail Running. The inaugural Ultra Trail Stokely Creek took place October 5, 2019 in beautiful Goulais River, Ontario, Canada.
Year two is set to launch October 2, 2020 with a 100 Mile UTMB qualifier. See you soon!