OXFORD, N.S. – Nova Scotia’s tourism website promotes the Pictou to Oxford section of the Short Line Railway Trail as ideal for walking, cycling, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and more.
It does not mention running, especially the entire 105K section, but that didn’t deter Anthony Fromm of Amherst, who did just that on Saturday, Oct. 21.
“The problem with long distance running is you are always looking for a new goal,” said Fromm. “It is not so much about going faster but looking to push yourself farther and more technical.”
His latest adventure started when a co-worker told him he has biked the trail from Oxford to Tatamagouche.
Having already completed a few 50K races and a couple 50-milers, Fromm saw his next step was to try the 100K distance. There are no 100K races in this region, and he did not want to travel and spend a bunch of money.
“So I figured out from Pictou to Oxford on the old train bed is 105 kilometres, and I just needed to figure out the logistics of it all,” he said.
He enlisted the support of his friend Eric Sparling, who had owed him a favour since Fromm crewed for him during an eight-hour marathon walk during the summer.
Fromm’s goal in general was to see if he had the mental fortitude to pull off 100K solo. His specific goal was to do it in under 12 hours, and he learned it would not be easy.
“I was surprised how tough the trail was, with its long gentle slopes,” he said. “They really beat up the legs, and the motion is constantly the same. I did think about quitting a few times, but hit a second wind around 70K and knew at that point I would be able to get it done.”
The day was sunny but cool, and he got to see plenty other trail users along the route, including hikers and people on motorcycles, ATVs, mountain bikes. He also got to see plenty of wildlife, such as deer and plenty of birds, including an owl that flew a few metres over his head.
All along the way, Sparling met him at certain points, providing him with energy gels, drinks, and solid foods like sandwiches, chips and cookies.
“Knowing Tony, I expected more tears,” joked Sparling. “Truly, though, I think it’s a terrific achievement – a lot of work and tenacity.”
Fromm finished the 100K run in 11 hours and 22 minutes (the last 5K of the trail he walked in the dark with his wife).
Finding no deep meaning to his runs, he said he does them as a personal challenge, and nothing else. And he is already thinking about his next adventure.
“I am hoping to find a 100-mile course somewhere for next year,” he said.