Photos and words by Sydney Allen-Ash
This is my third year capturing the all-woman Wild Bruce Chase team in their completion of an end to end trail in the fastest known time (FKT). In 2016 they completed the Bruce Trail in the Bruce Peninsula, in 2017 they took on the Rideau Trail in Ottawa and this year it was the Ganaraska Trail that spanned approximately 600km from Port Hope to Devil’s Glen.
While in contrast to last year’s Rideau Trail FKT, we did have the sun on our side but best believe this weekend was not an easy one. Let alone the logistics of organizing 11 women, 12 crew members, and three nights accommodation, the team also persevered through fierce briars that tore up their legs, intense heat, even worse humidity and persistent dear flies to complete the roughly 600km trail in an impressive 69 hours.
I am endlessly fascinated by the strength and resilience of this unique group of women who prioritize running extreme distances over engaging in the typical Canadian long weekend beer-adjacent activities. I hope I can always continue to document their adventures because, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s important for the progression of sport, sport photography and society in general to document women doing difficult things. Too often there are glaring differences in the way we document men and women in sport, while men can be captured grunting, yelling, ugly and bleeding, women are often showcased in moments of celebration, smiling, perfectly clean or posed.
This toxic male gaze leads us, the viewer, to believe that the hard work doesn’t happen or at the very least women should not display ourselves doing the hard work. I hope the images of these amazing women will contribute to a world where neither of those statements hold weight. Also, selfishly, I think you are who you surround yourself with, and being in proximity to women who exhibit power, determination, grace, compassion, and intelligence under grueling circumstances helps me to envision the woman I want to become.