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Runners embrace race against the clock

Sunday marked the conclusion of the third edition of the High Noon 24 Hour Trail Race and Relay.

THUNDER BAY – There were a lot of exhausted and tired faces when the clock struck 9 a.m. on Sunday morning at the Kamview Nordic Centre.

However, there was also a major sense of accomplishment.

Ninety-nine runners from across northern Ontario tested themselves and the 3.38-kilometre course during the third edition of the High Noon 24 Hour Trail Race and Relay.

“I’m very glad it’s over,” Rebecca Bennitt said with a laugh. “It was a great day for (the) weather and everything held up.”

Bennitt, who is from Murillo, had good reason to joke about the fact that the race was done.

She had completed 60 laps of the course to earn top individual honours in the women’s event.

Bennitt has competed in all three of the 24-hour events and also takes part in the other runs that event organizers UpRiver Running hold during the year.

“It’s the challenge that keeps me coming back, plus the food’s a nice bonus,” Bennitt said with a smile.

“It’s also really cool to see a lot of newcomers take part. They go a long way out there and it’s really cool to see them do more than what they came here thinking that they could do.”

Susan Hillman, who is the volunteer coordinator for the High Noon race, agreed with Bennitt’s assessment.

“It’s nice to see people who didn’t even know that they could do a trail run or an ultra marathon just go out there and crush it,” Hillman said.

“Usually on the last day, there’s lots of tears flowing and lots of high fives being given. That’s my favourite part.”

As the runners crossed the finish line during the final hour of the race, fellow competitors and spectators put together an arch and cheered each other on as they celebrated each participant’s accomplishments.

Eric Berglund, who completed 50 laps of the course to earn the top male runner honours, was among those showing their support.

“The mental and physical challenge is what has brought me out to events like this over the last 10 years, but the community itself is so awesome,” Berglund said.

“It’s super inspiring to be out there with those who are taking part for the first time, running their first trail race, or trying to go for a marathon distance or a 50-kilometre run.”

Hillman said that the event organizers were very pleased about how this year’s event went, especially with how Mother Nature cooperated.

“It rained for pretty much all of the race last year, so it was nice to have some great weather and to have a lot of people come out and watch this weekend,” Hillman added.

After taking some time to rest and recuperate, UpRiver Running will start to prepare for their annual 10km, 25km and 50km fall races, which take place on Oct. 5 and start at the Centennial Park cabins.

Details on that event can be found on UpRiver Running’s website.

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