Ultra runner set to make an FKT attempt on Ontario's 890-km Bruce Trail
An Ontario ultra runner is tackling one of the biggest FKT attempts in the area, the 890 km Bruce Trail with a current running record of nine days, 21 hours and 14 minutes.
The plan is for John Pockler to begin his attempt in Tobermory, Ont. on Sept. 11 at 6:00 am. According to him, there will be a base crew of six people rotating to support the attempt periodically with supplies, nutrition and equipment. But it is designed as an open community project where people are invited to help out wherever they can and join for a run or hike on the trail following social distancing guidelines.
Like many ultrarunners, Pockler was left without any races in 2020, and needed to keep training and work towards something substantial.
“I was ramping up my training to attend the 2020 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc TDS, a beautiful, but demanding and wild circuit in France that’s 145km with 9,100-metres of elevation,” he says. “I thought this was a great opportunity to pivot to an FKT and design my own epic challenge — conquering the 890km long Bruce Trail in Ontario. The goal was to break the current supported FKT record achieved by Adam Burnett in 2017 of nine days, 21 hours, and 14 minutes. I knew if I was going to tackle this FKT, there’d be no room for error. It is already a good record and I’d have to make sure my planning, training and nutrition was on point.”
For the FKT, Pockler will also be raising much-needed funds for the Bruce Trail Conservancy, after recognizing the importance of public natural spaces during the pandemic.
“Everyone of us has been impacted by COVID-19 in some way and it’s changed the way we live our day to day,” he says. “With this event, I wanted to connect the community and raise funds for the Bruce Trail Conservancy, to maintain the trails that help us recharge our batteries in these challenge times. Getting out on the trails has been a great way to treat our body and mind, and I wanted to help fundraise for the Conservancy so that we’re able to retain its natural beauty.”
Pockler, who was born in a small town in Germany and relocated to Canada four-and-a-half years ago, had another unique adventure earlier this year. Alongside Mark Carey and Dr. Claire Heslop, Pockler completed a fun FKT— Run Around Toronto. A 135km run around the perimeter of Toronto in support of the Red Cross relief efforts for COVID-19.
Pockler has been competing in ultras for the past five years including such races as the Ultra-Trail Cape Town 125km, the 100k World Championships Run in Winschoten, Netherlands, the Canadian Death Race 125km, and first-place finishes at the Schinder-Trail Grauer Kopf 125km and the Niagara Ultra 50km. But the multi-day stage factor is new to him.
He’s been planning the Bruce Trail FKT attempt for about two-and-a-half months. He’s been up on the Bruce training on weekends, and recently completed a 140km Caledon Hills/Toronto section of the trail as a test run.
Pockler says the most challenging part of the adventure will be breaking the Canadian record while maintaining overall health.
“Mentally and physically I know I am going to be pushed beyond my limits as the current record is a good one, and the last thing I’d want is to push myself to the point of a long term injury,” he says. “There’s been numerous others who have attempted the trail before and other trails at this magnitude that have incurred long term damage due to shin splints and fractures.”
Pockler has partnered with the Runner’s Academy to ensure he has a proper recovery plan in place for each evening after he steps off the trail. He also has three crew members — Alexander Emeny, Connor Emeny, Jamie McDonell who will be joining him for the entirety of the trail in addition to friends, colleagues and peers in the running community that have agreed to support and run/hike along with him.
Dr. Brianna-Grace Mason of Runner’s Academy is also developing a nutrition plan to ensure Pockler maintains 10,000 calories a day. BlackToe Running is providing the fuel and CanaDreams has provided an RV for Pockler, which will enable the team to follow him each step of the way so he can prepare meals and sleep in comfort.
Pockler will have regular updates on Instagram @jpultra along the run and there is a Live Tracker for everyone to follow along which is on the event website www.brucetrailultra.com.