MARITIME RUNNER
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Around and around until only one remains

Sonofa Gunofa trail race happening this weekend

By Andrew Wagstaff
Maritime Runner
July 10, 2017

FIVE ISLANDS, N.S. – In the three years of the Sonofa Gunofa trail run, nobody has made it past 19 hours. That may change when this year’s event is held on Saturday, July 15.
“For the last two years, the race has ended after 19 hours, but this year some guys are saying that they will be running that loop at noon Sunday,” said race director Jodi Isenor of Nova Scotia Trail Running. “I’m not so sure they will be.”
In perhaps the most unique format to be found anywhere, the Sonofa Gunofa is divided into 5.6K loops, starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Runners must complete the loop in less than an hour to stay in the race, and then begin the next loop at 10 a.m.

Nova Scotia Trail Running will host the fourth annual Sonofa Gunofa run on July 15-16 at Five Islands Provincial Park. Shown here are some of last year’s starting participants.

Photo courtesy of Jodi Isenor

This continues until either only one runner remains, or until the “bell lap” at noon on Sunday.
“With this unique format, this event is the most fun, the most social, and easiest to set a PB distance on! It doesn’t matter if you finish a loop in 30 minutes or 59 minutes, you’re all tied for first place,” he said. “You can mix and mingle with different runners all day since you may want to run some loops with other runners, or you may just want to hike a loop with people who are in it for the long haul.”
Isenor started the race after hearing about one with a similar format in Tennessee put on by Lazarus Lake, the creator of the Barkley Marathons.
The first Sonofa Gunofa took place in 2014.
“The first year we were really unsure how long it would last, and people didn’t really show up prepared to run in the dark,” he said. “We ended it after 10 laps (46K), with the 10th lap being a six-man race.”
From 2015 on, the cut-off for the last possible lap has been set up for noon on Sunday.
If a runner takes longer than an hour to complete a loop, they are out of the race. Such elimination, however, has yet to happen at Sonofa Gunofa.
“Interestingly enough, no one has timed out in the three years we’ve had it,” said Isenor. “Everyone, aside from the winner, just decides they’ve had enough. It gets to be a real mind game, which I find super interesting.”
The location for this year’s run has been changed from the Wentworth Hostel in Cumberland County, to Five Islands Provincial Park in Colchester County. It’s not as hilly as the previous course, with 165m of elevation gain/loss, compared to 225m at Wentworth.
“Five Islands Provincial Park has great trails and is in a really beautiful location,” said Isenor. “We have the two large group camping sites booked for Friday and Saturday night, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Consistent with the growth in popularity of trail running, Sonofa Gunofa has seen a bump in registrations this year, with 92 signed up as of Monday night, compared to a total of 66 in 2016.
For more on the Sonofa Gunofa Run, visit here .