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Rules for Racing your Best: Break the year into Quarters

Now that Spring is upon us, many are beginning to think about racing. In fact, some may have already run a few races. If you are looking to perform your best, there are a few things that I have learned over the years that have helped me and countless others peak when it matters most:

Break the year into quarters and focus on one race per quarter.

You might be asking why I am writing this now that we are a quarter of the way through the year. I am often contacted at this time of year from athletes wanting to train for and perform their best at races a few weeks from now.  These “goal” races are often accompanied by lists of races every weekend between now and race day.  Often, the athlete also wants to run personal bests at each race between now and then.  When I receive these inquiries my first question is, “When do you plan to train?” I follow up with, “Which of all of these races is most important to you?”  “Are you willing to not race as much so that you can better prepare for the goal race?”  If they say, “Yes,” I consider working with them.  If they say, “No,” I wish them well and know that they will likely get injured or disappointed that they aren’t ready when they want to reach their peak.

Don’t get me wrong.  There is nothing inherently wrong with racing. I love racing. I love the community.  I love the challenge. I love the opportunity to explore new places and meet new people.  I understand why people sign up for races week-after-week-after-week.  And to be honest, there is nothing wrong with this approach if that is your goal.  If you care less about performance than you do about the experience or the connection with others or the challenge of racing back-to-back races then you are fine running as many races as your heart desires. However, if you are looking to maximize your potential in the short and long terms, there should be some deliberate planning and preparation around race selection, training, and race execution.

General Annual Training & Racing Plan Broken up by Quarters

Start with the end in mind.

What is your goal race? What is the distance? What time would you like to run at the event? How much time is there between now and then to prepare?  How have you prepared yourself for the challenge up to this point?

The longer the race the more you need to prioritize the long run.

If you are training for a half marathon, marathon, or ultra you should plan to regularly run long (between 1.5 to 3 consecutive hours) every week or two.  If the weekends are your only times to do your long runs, limit racing to once per month and strive to have those races build toward your goal race.

Use shorter races as dress rehearsals for longer races.

For example, if you have a goal marathon three months away consider doing a 10K at the end of the first month, a half marathon at the end of the second month, and the marathon at the end of the third month.  The bulk of your training should be specific to the goal race, but be sure that at least some of your training is priming you for the upcoming shorter, faster races.  Get some of the pre-race jitters out of the way so that when you get to race day of your goal race you don’t feel quite as nervous.

Accept that you may not run lifetime bests every time you toe the line.

If your confidence and motivation are delicate and may get rocked by not beating or matching your lifetime best when you were training specifically for a particular race or distance, don’t race.  You can get the same training stimulus and fitness check by doing a tempo run or other predictor workout on your own.  However, if you can check your ego and expectations at the door and enjoy the opportunity of racing you might surprise yourself and realize you are fitter than you thought.

If you crave the community of races but the races don’t fit with your goal race, offer to volunteer.

Races would not happen without the help of countless volunteers.  Volunteering often helps the racer see the other side of racing and helps us appreciate all that goes into making our race experience what it is.  If you have the time and the desire to connect with others – even if the race distance or surface doesn’t fit in with your training for the goal race – you can still be a part of the event as a volunteer.  At many races, volunteers get the same or better swag items and sometimes you can even trade volunteer time for a race entry to another event with the same race organization.  Either way, volunteering is a great way to connect with fellow runners and feel good about the time you spend making the lives of others brighter.

If you are serious about performance, break the year in half with only two goal races.

While this may seem overly focused for some, it is how many of the best runners in the world do it.  Even when I coached high school athletes, I learned that if we wanted to be ready to peak at the end of cross country season in November and the end of track season in May that we couldn’t be racing all Summer and Winter.  My athletes and teams ran their best when they spent the Winter and Summer months building their bases for the Spring and Fall seasons and then raced sparingly throughout the season.  If they raced or trained too intensely in the off-seasons they usually peaked too soon or were burnt out by the end of the season when they needed to be the sharpest.  I have found the same to be true for me – especially as I get older and run longer.

Jacob Puzey winning the 2016 Canadian 50K Road Championships in Course Record time.

Last year, I had a list of races I had hoped to do, but given my family and work commitments I knew that it would only be reasonable for me to focus on two goal races: the Canadian Road 50K Championships at the end of May and the 50 Mile Treadmill World Record in December.

Jacob Puzey running a world record for 50 miles on the treadmill (4:57:45) at the Running Event in 2016. Photo from Competitor Magazine.

While I ran a few other races in preparation for each of these goal races, I made sure that the tune-up races that I did were just that – tune-ups toward the overall goal of running my best when it mattered most.  Turns out, the plan worked. Though my training leading up to each goal race didn’t go exactly as planned (it never does), I was rested and healthy when it was time to perform so all I had to do was run.

I am keenly aware of the power of FOMO (fear of missing out).  I am also keenly aware of how much it sucks to sit on the sidelines of the race I had hoped to race, but was unable to do so because I got a bit too greedy at less important races leading up to it.  Adherence to the aforementioned rules has helped me and countless others race our best when it matters most.  If you are interested in maximizing your potential the next time you run a goal race, I invite you to follow these rules and see what you are truly capable of doing.

Jacob Puzey is a national champion and world record holder who coaches runners from all over the world – of all ages and abilities from newbies to national champions – to reach their running potential on all surfaces and distances through



weULTRA – Building the Ontario Trail Community One Badass at a time!

Casey Thivierge is the founder of weULTRA based in Ontario.  His passion for trail and ultra running combined with this initiative and community engagement is growing the sport in a big way in their region.

Casey takes on the brutal 68 Mile course with 40, 000ft of elevation gain Georgia Death Race tomorrow. We chatted with WeUltra’s fearless in the days before this this event about the community he is forging, the Malden Death Run event he recently hosted and what makes him tick.


 Where are you based?


CT: I live in Belle River, ON but do most of my running and training in Windsor, just south of Detroit. The weULTRA group consists of runners from all around the Essex County area, the southernmost part of Canada.





 What is weULTRA and what is the vision for it?

CT: weULTRA is a group consisting of ultra, trail runners, their supportive family & friends as well as those aspiring to try ultra and trail running.

I started the group two years ago as a private group with a few local friends as the only members. It was created as a place to help share information between each other and to provide motivation, encouragement and support. While there were other running groups in the area, the “ultra-scene” was almost non-existent and ultra runners were few and far between. I felt that there was an opportunity to create something that could help grow the sport in our area. We then decided to make it a public group and slowly, one by one people started joining.

My vision for it is pretty simple. I want it to be a fun group that helps support and encourage others to get involved in the trail and ultra running community. My intent is to provide local runners with challenging hill workouts and quirky group runs. I want people to challenge themselves, have fun with running and define new personal limits on what they can achieve. It is very rewarding to see others improve, especially when they finish with a smile on their face.

Of course I have a vested interest in growing the sport of trail and ultra running specifically in my own community. However, I would like the page to be bigger and broader than that. I am willing to let it evolve as it may.

 Do you have members whether unofficial or official for weULTRA?

CT: Membership is free and open to all. The only requirement is a commitment to run, support, volunteer, crew or pace an ultra marathon or train with those who are doing so. We are a group who want to focus on running with our friends, striving for and achieving new goals, and most importantly, helping others.

We currently have 390 members in our Facebook group.

 What is Malden Death Run and how does the format work?

CT: The Malden Death Run (MDR) was an idea conceived this past December by my friend Derek Mulhall and myself. We have both signed up for the Georgia Death Race (GDR) and agreed we would have to step up our vertical game throughout training. In one of our early training workouts on our local hill nicknamed Big Bertha, we kicked around the idea of doing our 40-mile training run entirely on the 1 hill. Up and down, over and over again. We did the math and figured it would take 120 repeats to achieve the desired distance. The monotony of running up and down a hill that was 1/6th of a mile long would help sharpen our mental game and the physical test of running 40 miles with over 25,000’ of elevation change would help gauge our fitness towards the end of our training.

Having had success with hosting several “Fat-Ass” events in the past, we decided to reach out to our local running community again and see if people were interested in joining us for a few repeats on the hill.

I made a Face Book event for Saturday, Feb 25th and named it the Malden Death Run, paying homage to the Georgia Death Race but specifically designating it as a “run” and not a “race”. The event would take place in Malden Park on the Big Bertha hill. We announced our lofty intentions and invited people to come out and join us any time they could throughout the day between 8am and 5pm, our estimated finishing time.

The event was free of charge and unsupported. It evolved as time went on and the event date drew closer. I started to hype it more and it gained more interest. I then decided to make some “awards” for all participants as a token of our appreciation. Derek and I, along with some help from my Mom and Dad made 75 awards to hand out that day. We hoped it was enough and luckily it was. Everyone who showed up and did at least 1 hill repeat got an award.

30 repeats (about 10 miles worth) got you a different award, and the top 5 finishers in number of repeats completed (excluding Derek and myself) got a different award. All the awards were handmade and also paid homage to the GDR finisher awards. We ended up having 4 people complete the entire 120 repeats for 40 miles and 12,795’ of ascent: Derek Mulhall, Daryl Flacks, Randy Troyer and myself.

The highlight of the event to me was handing out the “MDR Runner of the Day” award. A week before the event I announced on the event page that there would be 1 special award handed out. I stated, they can be fast. They can be slow. They can do a lot of repeats, or maybe not so many. That’s not what matters most. It was a pleasure to hand the award to Karen Hutt. She went there with a previous best 15 repeats and ended up doing 45 on the day…and most importantly with a smile on her face the entire time. She was very deserving and a great example of what the day was about: Smiling, laughing, suffering and having a great time.

 How many runners did you get?

CT: Even with the less than ideal weather we had, we ended up getting 72 people to participate in the event throughout the day. It was amazing. Our community of friends and family are truly supportive and they often rally together and help support one another. If the weather would have been just a bit nicer that day, I really think we would have had over 100 people show up.

 When did it start and how many have you had?

CT: 2017 was our first MDR. There was never any intention to do another one or make this an annual event. However, the positive feedback I’ve received since the event has me at least thinking about future possibilities.


 Is it purely a prep event for Georgia Death Race or more than that?

It was intended to be but people really enjoyed it and used it to set their own goals and set their own new personal records. It was very inspiring to see how motivated people were and how they used the event to push beyond what they thought they were capable of.

I never wanted it to be only about our training for GDR. I wanted to create another reason for our local runners to get together and have a fun day. Their enthusiasm, smiles and support is a great source of inspiration but I have to admit, it became much bigger and better than I thought it would.


         Here’s a few stats about the event:

–          72 runners

–          8hrs and 45min from start to finish

–          4 people completed 120 repeats (40 miles and 12,795’ of ascent)

–          Group total of 1,693 hill repeats

–          Group total of 361,032’ of elevation change (Over 6 x up and down Mt Everest)

 What events have you got coming up in the community there?

CT: March 18th: We’ll participate in the “40 miles for 40 weeks” charity run to help support a friend and his worthy cause. He’s running across our county for the local charity “Eyes Wide Open”:

There’s a few local races like the Blue Heron Blitz and The Beach Bash Dash along with several others around the county that the W.R.A.C.E organization puts on. Across the border into Michigan there are some great trail races put on by RunningFit such as TrailWeekend and RunWoodstock that take place in the Pinckney and Hell, Michigan areas.

Also, I have a friend that is running a 100-miler in the Fal. So I’m currently kicking around some ideas for a Fall FatAss Forty that will be similar to the race he is going to run, yet still be unique and feasible for runners of all levels to participate in. Like all of our events, it’ll definitely have a twist to it.

 Have you done Georgia Death Race before?

No. This will be the first time for both Derek and I and I don’t personally know anybody that has run it before.

 How long have you yourself been running for. Whats Your background and how did you get into ultra running?

CT: I’ve been running for about 10 years now.

I’m currently 42 years old. I was never a runner as a kid. I never ran track, cross-country or anything like that. I started running in the fall of 2006 on a bet from my sister in-law Janine. She had just returned from watching her friend run the Detroit Marathon and was very impressed with what she witnessed throughout the day. I jokingly teased that it was no big deal. She bet me that I couldn’t run a marathon. I placed a friendly wager with her that I would run the 2007 Detroit Marathon.

Then I went home and typed into my web browser, “What is a marathon?” The next day I went for a long run. When I returned home I got in my car and measured the distance, 2.4 miles. Oh god.

It was a long year with a lot of training, but I couldn’t lose this bet. Well, at least it seemed like a lot of training. I ran and finished the 2007 Detroit Marathon, the first race I had ever entered. It was a miserable experience and I swore off marathons forever.

Three years and after a couple half-marathons later I ran my 2nd full marathon. With smarter training and more mileage it was a much more enjoyable experience and my results improved dramatically. Then I started having thoughts of Boston.

In 2012 I qualified for the Boston Marathon but something else happened that year. I heard about a race in California called the Western States Endurance Run. A local runner by the name of Denis Chenard was doing these crazy 100-mile races. To say I was interested would be an understatement. I went and ran the last few miles with him at RunWoodstock 100 in Michigan that year. I was instantly hooked.

2013 saw me run my first 50k, followed by two more 50k’s and then my first 50-miler at the JFK 50 in Maryland.

In 2014, along with my friend Derek Mulhall, we ran our first 100-miler at Burning River in Ohio and earned our first qualifying tickets to enter the Western States lottery. My friends Francois and Gord, along with my wife Jenn helped crew and pace us that day. We had a great time and loved everything about it. We met great people along the course and throughout the weekend and really fell in love with the culture of the sport. I didn’t know it at the time, but weULTRA was born that weekend and I’ve been enjoying the journey ever since

 Are you married and have kids?

Yes. I am happily married to my high school sweetheart Jenn and looking forward to celebrating our 19th year of marriage in May. We have two teenage daughters that are the world to us. Lexi is turning 16 in May and Chloe just turned 14 in December.

Outside of running & family my interests include camping, travel, amateur astronomy and of course…craft beer.

 What races are you personally taking on this year?

Georgia Death Race on April 1st and The Barkley Fall Classic (BFC) in Wartburg, Tennessee on September 16th are my primary races this year. I left my soul on Rat Jaw in last year’s BFC, so I’m going back to get it.


Check out the weULTRA Face Book Group and Casey’s blog below to see how things progress off the back of his great initiatives that are doing wonders for our sport.






Adam Campbell – True Grit, Pure Passion – Massive Comeback

World Class Canadian Mountain and Ultra Runner, Adam Campbell suffered life-threatening injuries last October when he experienced a massive fall during an FKT attempt in Roger’s Pass, British Columbia. His brush with death and aftermath was so stark that those close to him can’t really understand how he is still alive, let alone not paralyzed. Go one step further, he is going to again take on the brutal Hardrock 100 Mile race with over 33, 000 ft of elevation gain in July. After featuring heavily a few times in this iconic mountain running event in the past and even coming close to winning it in a field that had Kilian Jornet his approach will be somewhat different and we are still blown away that this is on the cards and Adam is making massive gains towards this objective already.

We asked Adam some questions about what happened in that accident and what he is doing to get fit, health and ready again to take on some ambitious, super exciting and inspirational project.

Warning: Your Inspiration-ometer will blow a gasket… 

 How long has it been since your accident?

AC: It’s been a bit over 5 months. My accident happened on August 31st 2016, so relatively recent and my body is still healing. I have another surgery late this summer to remove the metal rods from my back. In theory this will give me more mobility, but I am not particularly looking forward to having my back cut open again.

Adam fell from near the top when some rock gave way and landed near the bottom on the gravel and rock.

Nick Elson caring for Adam while Dakota Jones headed to cell coverage to summon mountain rescue.

Mountain rescue moving Adam to safety.

 What were the injuries you suffered during the accident as well as the complications post-surgery?

AC: I continue to suffer complications, with tight muscles, imbalances, deep scar tissue etc. I broke my pelvis (iliac crest) and have a metal pin in there. I broke my T8-T11 vertebrae and have metal rods in my back. I had extensive lacerations across my pelvis area, including wounds down to the bone and the rest of my body. I had stitches between every single knuckle, as well as down my arms, face and neck. I also suffered several small fractures in my ankle because the ligaments and tendons tore bits of bone away from it. In hospital I suffered serious digestive issues due to a post-operative paralytic ileus, which basically means my stomach stopped working. I suffered serious bloating and incredible pain. It was the worst part of my recovery. I couldn’t eat for 10 days and the pain kept me from sleeping, it was a horrible feeling.


 Where are you at now in your recovery if you could give a scale of where you’re at now and how far from 100%? Is 100% likely in terms of racing at that Elite level again?

AC: I have no idea what my ultimate recovery and capacity will be. I would hate to limit what I am ultimately capable of but I do know that I improve weekly. It will be a long-term, multi-year process for me. I’ll continue to work hard and push myself, because ultimately I enjoy doing that. I get to rediscover my body and learn how to use it in a completely new way, that provides a great deal of possibilities.


 What sort of training or exercise are you busy with now?

AC: This time of year I ski tour quite a bit, especially on weekends, which is convenient because it’s relatively low impact, so long as I don’t fall, it provides a lot of strength and it is more or less sport specific and, most importantly it allows me to get back into the alpine with my friends. Plus, if it’s good enough for the likes of Kilian in the winter there must be something to it. On top of that, I have been getting back to running with a focus on frequency rather than long runs to get my body used to the impact of running again. I’m also in the climbing gym 2 to 3 times a week and am doing strength and mobility work almost daily. Add in a nearly weekly physio session and it makes for a rather full schedule.



 Is the training you’re doing low impact to reduce stress on the body or are you clear to run freely yet?

AC: I am free to run, but I have to monitor my body quite carefully with it. Running flats seems to be the hardest on me. I was using the Alter-G (anti-gravity) treadmill quite a bit, but am starting to taper that off. I try to do one or two harder runs a week but they can beat me down quite a bit so I give them a lot of respect and mostly do them uphill to ease the pounding on my joints. I find running hard on the flats quite jarring to my hip and spine still and I am very conscious about avoiding any compensation style injury. I am also very careful not to run based on pace, since I have no idea what my body is able to do and I don’t want to put any undue pressure on myself. I have done a few harder runs but I try to do them entirely on feel while maintaining good form. My left ankle has very limited range of motion since it is still swollen so I can’t apply proper force to the ground which seriously limits my running speeds. I may be the only runner in Calgary celebrating the continued snow because it makes the roads quite a bit softer for me.


 How does the volume compare to this time last year?

AC: I am probably running about a quarter of what I was doing this time last year. It’s definitely the least running I have done in the last 18 years but I am grateful for every stride I can take. My overall exercise and training hours, if you count my mobility work is more or less on par with what I have done in the past.


 What events have you done since the accident if any?

AC: I have only done one race, a ski mountaineering race at Panorama Mountain Resort called Steep Dreams. I struggled a bit on the long course race since it had some technical downhills that were hard on my ankle and hip and I was scared of falling. I surprised myself on the uphill only race finishing 4th, which was great. It snowed a lot after the race so we had a great time skiing powder afterward, even though I was definitely tired.




 What events and races will you be doing next?

AC: The only race I have for sure on my schedule at the moment is the Canadian Ski Mountaineering championships at Lake Louise, the Ken Jones Classic on March 25-26th. I will likely do a 50km trail race prior to Hardrock and I will definitely do some local 5 Peaks events but I have not decided which ones to do yet. I have to play that by ear depending on how my body is holding up and how my training is going. My main goal is to arrive at the start line in July uninjured – relatively speaking and strong enough to be able to keep moving for up to 48 hours.


 What is your plan for Hardrock 100 come race weekend. What do you expect out of it, not only physically but spiritually and psychologically?

AC: Oh wow, that is a very heavy and complex question. I plan on making the race a real celebration of my friendships and my love of moving through the mountains. I have invited a lot of my closest friends to come down and join me for the week going in to the race and I have asked my good friends, Aaron Heidt, Nick Elson , Dakota Jones and my fiancee, Laura Kosakoski to help pace me through the latter half of the race. I warned them that there will likely be a lot of walking involved but it will be truly special to share that time with them.

I imagine that it will be incredibly emotional for me and it will also be very hard on me physically. I have no idea how my body will hold up to that level of exertion and fatigue. The race has broken me physically when I was in peak shape and has humbled many of the greatest mountain runners in the world so I am mentally preparing for some hard miles out there. I also imagine that I will be on the go for far longer than I have been out before so that will add a new level of challenge to the event.

Regardless, I’ll do what I always do; I’ll take the race one step and one mile at a time. I’ll celebrate small victories and will be incredibly thankful that I am still in a place to experience these special places in the world with awesome people. It really is a beautiful part of the world and we do do these events for pleasure so that’s what I’ll focus on.


 What is your training regimen going to be like compared to last time you did Hardrock?


AC: I will likely include a lot more biking and mountaineering rather than straight running. Basically doing what I can to get in big days in the mountains. I also have to continue to focus on increasing my strength and range of motion, so I’ll be running less miles than I have in the past.





 How has your mental approach to training and being outside changed since the accident?

AC: I’m not sure it has changed a great deal. I have always had a huge love of being outside in high and wild spaces and pushing myself physically. I am still doing that although, before I believed  that if I could get fit enough and push myself hard that I could be competitive against the field in most races that I competed in.  My current reality is that I cannot afford to compare myself to others but rather it is entirely me challenging myself and what I can do.

I am also placing a much higher emphasis on safety and learning the more technical side of mountain sports. There is so much to learn about the mountains and moving through them. I think I rushed a lot of my learning, whereas now I have the opportunity to slow down a bit and really think about what I can do to minimize and limit my risk and exposure so that I can have a long and happy life in the mountains.


 How do you stay positive and focused on getting physically healthy and fit again. Any tricks, mantras or rituals?

AC: As I’ve said, there aren’t specific tricks, just an overall positive attitude. I realize that I am incredibly lucky to be alive and that I am not paralyzed. If I had fallen even a centimeter differently in either direction my outcome could have been very different so I am just grateful for everything that I am able to do on any given day.


 How has the community around you and across the world factored into your recovery and support?

AC: The support has been amazing and overwhelming. Aside from my close friends, family and fiancée, who have been amazing, the global running community has been so supportive. I continue to get daily messages from people wishing me luck, or sharing their stories of overcoming adversity. There are some truly inspiring and incredibly caring  people in our community.



 What are the goals and plans in terms of racing and projects beyond Hardrock 2017?

AC: I don’t have any specific goals yet. I have spent the entirety of adult life racing and competing. However, over the past few years I have found myself increasingly drawn towards using my speed and fitness in personal challenges in the mountains. While trail and mountain running will always be my main and true love, this shift in focus has lead me to taking up a wider range of activities, including climbing, alpinism and skiing. Basically using the tools and skills that make the most sense for the environment and time of year that I am engaged in. I will continue to compete, because I enjoy the camaraderie and accountability to train that racing brings. However, it will no longer be my sole focus.
With my recent accident, I am also taking more time for mountain education, with specific attention on safety in the mountains and taking the time to develop my technical skills, so that I can have a healthy and long life of enjoying them with my friends and family.

I have also been offered an incredible opportunity to work with Arc’teryx to help them develop their Alpine Running line with a focus on fast and light efforts in the mountains. Arc’teryx has supported me since 2007 when I ran my first mountain running races and I have always greatly admired their dedication towards making the most innovative and beautifully crafted apparel. I am beyond excited to be helping them with their footwear now as well.  I’m really looking forward to working with Arc’teryx to further develop the Alpine Running category.

I would also love to get involved in organizing more camps to help introduce people to the mountains, as well as travel the world a bit more. I have done a fair bit but it would be great to keep feeding that bug and meet new people.


 Have you had time to reflect with Nick and Dakota since that day?

AC: I had the great pleasure of skiing with Nick back in December which was amazing for me and I think he found it somewhat cathartic as well. Dakota and I have talked via text and on the phone a few times. They are both incredible people that I respect immensely. They literally saved my life and I could not have asked for two better companions for a mountain outing. I cannot imagine what they went through watching me fall, it would have been a nauseating feeling and they both told me that they were expecting to come across me dead when they made their way down to me. I am very much looking forward to a reunion with both of them this summer.


Edmonton – A Serious Trail Running Culture

The trails, club and race you wish your city had

By Kurt Beaudoin

When Canadians think of Edmonton, cold winters, Wayne Gretzky, oil and a big mall usually spring to mind. But for the trail running crowd, thoughts of Edmonton should conjure something different: a twinge of jealousy. That’s because Edmonton is home to the longest network of urban singletrack anywhere in North America (and some say, the world). As an example, this summer, the Edmonton Trail Runners will host The River Valley Revenge—a trail Ultra that will feature a 100K option that will never double back on itself and a 150K version that will be run on a 75K loop of singletrack trails—all within city limits. This begs two questions: How has Edmonton achieved this? And when you should book your trip?

Photo credit: Lay Vorasane

The trails

Canada is full of jaw-dropping, world-class trail and mountain running destinations. What makes Edmonton so unique is you can enjoy true, epic singeltrack trails while being surrounded by all the comforts and entertainment options of a modern, bustling metropolitan city. To put it in perspective, the parkland that runs through the middle of Edmonton is 22 times larger than Central Park.



Photo credit: Lay Vorasane



We’re not talking about smooth, flat dog-walking paths here either. These trails are the real deal. This is all because the North Saskatchewan River runs right through the middle of Edmonton with steep banks carved by glaciers melting away over 12,000 years ago. Impressively steep banks. Along both sides. Perfect for the local trail fairies (of which there are many) to carve out endless intertwined spaghetti strings of sweet singletrack. The trails are never flat and always twisty, with loads of roots, ridges, side-hills and steep scrambly bits. Not to mention the stunning vistas and a feeling that you’re in the middle of nowhere—even though you’re smack dab in the center of a city with 1 million+ population.


Hikers and mountain bikers have been building this network of trails for decades. Recently, trail work has exploded with the help of local trail running and mountain bike clubs. Now there are an abundance of trails for every runner, from near-vertical climbs and descents to, yes, some leisurely creek-side doubletrack perfect for walking your dog.


The club

Photo credit: Lay Vorasane

The unofficial hosts of trail running in Edmonton, are the Edmonton Trail Runners—a passionate, thriving, community-oriented, no membership-fee required group of runners, volunteers, trail builders and event organizers. This is one of the most welcoming, inclusive clubs you will ever come across. Led by husband/wife duo, Sheryl and Todd Savard, the ETR is founded on the grassiest of grass roots philosophies. As Sheryl puts it, “We always say it’s not (just) about the run. We are about building community and connection together. The run is simply the forum for that.”


If and when you do visit Edmonton, the club and their activities can easily be found on their very active Facebook page ( Newbies and visitors are more than welcome and there’s typically a run almost every day or night of the week. Runs range from trail technique sessions to nighttime hill repeats to epic long runs on the weekends to casual, impromptu coffee runs.


Photo credit: Lay Vorasane

The race

The crown jewel of Edmonton trail events is the River Valley Revenge, a popular and growing bi-annual event with a summer and a winter edition and that is entirely volunteer run. The River Valley Revenge (RVR) was the brainchild of Fast Trax Run and Ski Shop, created as a way to take in the best and most difficult of these trails all in one day, with a little support and a healthy dose of competition. It was rescued from the brink a few years ago by the ETR and is now more popular than ever. It hasn’t lost its grass roots vibe, though. Finisher medals are hand-carved, and the after-party is fueled by volunteer-made chili, baked goods and custom-labeled craft beer courtesy of Red Deer, Alberta’s Troubled Monk Brewery. Todd Savard hand-crafts the trophies out of vintage car parts found on the Two Truck Trail (Savard also built the Two Truck Trail, along an impossibly steep escarpment formerly used as a dumping area in the 1940s). “We ensure every racer has the same quality of experience, with full aid stations and cheering, regardless of their pace,” adds Savard. “That is also why the prize for first [finisher] is equivalent value to the prize for last [finisher]. Pride in finishing counts for all.”

Photo credit: Lay Vorasane


If you’re considering tackling the RVR ( as a destination race (or if you’re just considering a trip to run some awesome trails) you won’t be disappointed. Visit to find out everything you need to know about Edmonton’s other hidden gems including cultural surprises, culinary delights and a legendary festival season. The summer running of the River Valley Revenge is June 9-10 and includes a 150k distance to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary. If you want to take on the winter version it will be running again next January and would coincide nicely with some beautiful winter river valley scenery, a chance to go watch Connor McDavid (the new Wayne Gretzky) or a visit to the big mall.



Majo Srnik – Barefoot or Bust – To the Copper Canyons

The craze of barefoot running has seemingly died down since the release of the insanely famous book, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, featuring the tribe of super athletes who run in sandals across rugged terrain in the Copper Canyons of Mexico for days on end, called the Tarahumara. However, there are still some legitimate converts and fanatics for who this is way of life. Once again,  if you’ve been in that bunker avoiding the Apocalypse, find out more about the book Born to Run here.

We chatted to Elite ultra runner, Majo Srnik who has left the Canadian winter behind him and is about to tackle the hot, dry conditions in the Caballo Blanco Copper Canyons 50 Mile Ultra in Mexico this Sunday March 5th. Majo has made his way with a bunch of other runners, including Barefoot Ted McDonald, who featured significantly in the book to take on this race which promises to be a once in a lifetime experience. Majo will be doing the race in his Luna Sandals because that’s how Majo rolls.

In 2016 Majo, completed the Tahoe 200 Miler, coming 8th and Sinister 7 100 Miler, placing 4th.

Find out below what his motivation is, how he approaches bare foot running and what going down to Mexico for this proverbial bucket list item means to him.

 How long have you been running in sandals or barefoot?

MS: Well, I actually haven’t been running long distances for a long time. This is only my 6th year running now and competing in ultras. However since I started running I was always super motivated to go long and always looking forward to running a little further on my next run instead of focusing on speed. I never cared about speed actually, not even nowadays. I guess I just love running long and enjoying the nature around me. Once my running started to reach about the 30K distance, I noticed it was becoming a very painful experience. I just couldn’t imagine how people sustain so much pain when running. I knew something wasn’t right and I started digging into the cause. Friends recommended the book Born to Run. This was the game changer for me. Soon after I discovered the concept of barefoot running, which is not actually about literally running barefoot all the time, but about changing the way we run, learning proper ways to move, body posture, relaxation etc. Once you’re trying to move naturally you need to change your footwear and that’s where Luna Sandals or Vivobarefoot shoes came into the picture. It’s been 5 years since I haven’t had any other type of shoe on my feet, besides skiing boots.

 What are your goals for the event Copper Canyons Ultra?

MS: Honestly, I am super excited about being part of the Luna team and perhaps personally becoming a part of the story I read about. I am super excited to just enjoy every minute being in the Copper Canyons and being able to run with Rarámuris (Tarahumara) and watching their feet, learning more about the running culture and the ways they live. So, I’m definitely not going there with big racing plans. It’s all about being in the moment and enjoying everything.

 Will you do the whole race in sandals?

MS: Yeah absolutely looking forward to leaving shoes here in the frozen land (Canada)!

  Did you do the whole of Tahoe 200 in sandals or also in Vivo?

MS: I ran about 230km in Sandals, made out of recycled Michelin Tires yes! Then my feet became super sensitive from all the dry sand and dusty trails as they started to kind of crack on the bottom, so I switched into my Vivobarefoot and finished in those.

Majo at the Tahoe 200 Last year

  What are your race plans for the year?

MS: I want to use the trip to Mexico as kind of a season starter and in the lead up to the Caballo Blanco race running as much as I can, exploring the canyons, then running the actual race and come home with good mileage. After that maybe Calgary Marathon 50K, just because it’s there. Sinister 7 looks likely as I love that race and I will use it again to increase mileage. Iron legs 50 Miler is also likely since it’s four weeks before UTMB, which is definitely my focus race this year! After UTMB maybe I will do Beyond The Ultimate Desert Ultra in Africa if everything goes right. So, it should be a great year I guess.

 How do you condition your body and feet to run so far in sandals and also over technical trail?

MS: Not sure how to answer this… you need to find the flow I guess, it feels very natural to me and super, super enjoyable! Also, you have to be open minded and stop thinking you’re going to trip everywhere and just listen to your body. It feels very right to me.

 Ever hit your toe on a rock that hurt and you had to sit down?

MS: Yes! Once last year I was running down from Moose Mountain and I was looking up to the sky at a beautiful eagle flying by and kicked a rock. That was just stupid of me and no matter If I was in sandals or shoes the outcome would be exactly the same.

 What is your advice for anybody wanting to transition to barefoot?

MS: Definitely try find a great coach, someone who runs “barefoot ” and knows how to teach other people to run the same way. I actually kind of figured it out myself and I wasn’t exactly able to explain to others, so I went to Prague last year and started my barefoot coaching experience with Lee Saxby. The guy is amazing and definitely knows his stuff!  Also, you have to think about the fact you’re going to learn how to run once again and need to change the old habits. Time and distance goals will have to wait for a period.

 How are you feeling about joining the Tarahumara and all those who have gone before you in the Copper Canyons and where it all started?

MS: Yeah absolutely stoked about this! Like I said it’s dream come true for me! It means a lot to me being able to go there with Barefoot Ted and all those fantastic people so I’m super excited!

Majo and the famous Barefoot Ted McDonald

Good luck Majo!


Annie Jean Places 2nd at Snow Shoe World Champs

Last weekend on February 25th Annie Jean of Chelsea, Quebec took part in the World Snow Shoeing Federation World Championships in Saranac Lake, NY where she placed 2nd.


This was Annie’s first Snow Shoeing World Champs and on an 8KM course made up of 2 laps, she took the second step of the podium in a time of 36:48 in a highly competitive field. Due to unseasonably warm weather which was melting the snow, the course had to moved and modified to a nearby area with more snow. Volunteers were reportedly shoveling snow onto the course in order to make it suitable for the event.

What made Annie’s result even more impressive is she came off a heavy weekend of racing the week before and big training efforts in the days leading up to the event.

“I felt tired going into the race. The weekend before, I ran the 10KM snowshoe race at the Gatineau Loppet, where I placed first woman and 3rd overall.  This was the day after racing the 50KM classic ski race at the Loppet,” she said.




Annie mentioned that she is training hard with long distances at the moment as she gets ready for Behind the Rock 50 miler race in Moab, Utah with the Salomon Academy on March 25th.

“This means lots of distance running, and skiing. The Friday before the race was a long training day. My legs were not as fresh as they could have been, but they were not that bad either,” said Annie.

Placing 2nd on the world stage of snowshoeing off huge weeks of training is confirmation that you’re in great shape and the legs are responding well.


Annie has some epic stuff coming up this year and in her plans is the 80Km Mont Blanc Marathon in Chamonix, Trans Alps in Germany and World Long Distance Mountain Running Champs in Italy in July. Annie just got the news that she might also be selected for the World  50KM Trail Running Champs also in Italy on June 10th.  Later in the year in December she is also planning to run the North Face Endurance Challenge again in San Francisco.

Read Up More and follow on Annie’s Blog Right Here:


Marathon des Sables Launches Half Distance in New Location

The iconic and grueling self supported stage race, Marathon des Sables, dubbed the “toughest foot race on earth,” yesterday launched their half distance version of Marathon des Sables or “Marathon of the sands,” in partnership with the island of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands to take place from September 25th-30th 2017.

The half Distance race will be held in a separate and new location to the full event which is now in its 32nd year and is always hosted in the Sahara Desert in Morocco. The new race will cover 120 KM’s over 3 stages and will also be a self-supported event like its bigger brother.

A press conference was held yesterday in the Canary Islands to launch the race and prospective registrants can already pre-register on the site.

This event will be half as tough as the full version but we are convinced there will still be plenty of sand and heat top make for a challenging event.


Michael Wardian – Consistency is Key

We had an exclusive chat to the ever-active yet ever-fast Michael Wardian about what he’s up to this year, and by the sounds of it, he has a stacked schedule as usual with a full year of racing ahead…. including Barkley Marathons!

With our very own Gary Robbins heading back to Frozen Head National Park in Tennessee to attempt the wildly intriguing event put on by the just as wildly eccentric Gary Cantrell aka “Lazarus Lake,” the Barkley Marathons will be very interesting to watch as these two and many other interesting characters take on this epic feat.

If for some reason you’ve been living in a bunker avoiding the Apocalypse for the past 5 years, you can find out more about Barkley Marathons in the Netflix documentary that catapulted this event and legend to fame among the mainstream population.

Michael is the guy who ran 7 marathons, in 7 days on 7 different continents in an average time of 2:45 including the brutal Arctic Marathon on a snow-covered trail-like course. He also owns the world record for the fastest marathon dressed as Elvis in a time of 2:38. Mike is one of the most active racers out there among elites and last year raced close on 50 times, racking up some seriously impressive results on all surfaces in all corners of the globe.

From racing road events to long trail ultras Mike continues to blow minds racing so often and remaining fast. He has featured in races such as Marathon des Sables, UTMB, The Diagonale des Fous (Crossing of the Fools), 100 mile trail race with over 32,000 Feet of Ascent, on Reunion Island and many more.

Coming off a very successful Tarawera 100KM Ultra Trail in New Zealand just a couple weeks ago, this year looks to be no different. He chatted with us about his secret to racing so often and so successfully.


 How was Tarawera as a race and overall experience?

MW: Tarawera 102K was incredible, I love that race and I definitely felt the 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents but I battled the whole day and was really happy to run 8th overall and my 4th top top 10 finish there.  The trip to New Zealand with Jennifer my wife and my sons Pierce (10 years) and Grant (8 years) was truly magical.  We saw a lot and got a chance to really be a part of the New Zealand culture and experienced a lot of different things from mountain biking, to downhill luge, to bungee jumping ,to jet boat riding and a cruise on the Milford Sound to Zorbing.  We did as much as we could and it was a trip of a lifetime.

Tarawera finish line. Photo: irunfar


 What is your next race?

MW: My next currently scheduled race is the “The Barkley Marathons” on March 31, 2017.  I am probably going to jump into some marathons before it but Barkley is my next big Ultra at this point.  I might do the USATF 50K National Championships the first weekend of March but still deciding.

 What are your plans for the year ahead regarding racing that you know of right now?

MW: My race schedule is pretty awesome so far, I haven’t set anything firm after Hardrock 100 in July but currently working on my schedule post Hardrock.

 How many times did you race last year?

MW: I raced 47 times in 2016 and that was pretty common for me.  I like to compete and race.

 What do you do to recover between races and what is the key to racing so often and still performing?

MW: Between events, I like to keep moving and training.  I think the key to racing so often is to be excited about the opportunities and don’t let what you just did impact you mind for what you are about to do. I think to preform at the highest levels you need to believe it is possible and have confidence in yourself that you can do it.  Great things happen when you believe.

 How much longer are you planning on still racing competitively for?

MW: I would like to be racing competitively for the next 30 years.  I might not be winning races but I will still be pushing what I can do and what is possible and that to me gets me fired up to do the work and training to get the results I am after.

 How does family view the travelling and racing often. Are they along for the ride and enjoying all the scenery?

MW: Jennifer my wife and our boys Pierce and Grant, love the racing and travel.  We are at a crazy amazing place where we can visit beautiful and dynamic parts of the world and see what they are all about.  I feel so thankful that we are getting to travel the world and learn about different countries, cultures and mindsets.  We all are citizens of the world and getting to visit different places I think is one of the best teachers and I can’t wait to see what our boys do with all those experiences when they get older.

Mike finishing Tarawera 100 with his boy’s helping him home.

 What is the best advice you have ever received which you still use to this day?

MW: I think the best advice I ever received, I believe in and that I prescribe to is “be consistent”.  It was not from a running coach but from the head coach of the Maryland Lacrosse program in the 1980’s. He said if you do the work everyday by the time I see you in 5 years, I will give you a scholarship.  I took what he said to heart and everyday I practiced throwing the ball, 50 times with each hand and by the time I was a senior in high school I was really good. I just applied that to my running.  It doesn’t matter if you do one great workout but it is years of consistent focused running that allows you to have results you want.

 What motivates you to race so often?

MW: I love competition and I think races bring out the best in me and other people.  There is nothing better than stepping up to a start line and knowing that you have to preform.

7 finish lines in 7 days on 7 on continents

 How do you schedule in all the racing and balance life things?

MW: It takes a lot of balancing to honor all my obligations but I love the challenge and normally check with Jennifer to see if we have anything and then go from there.

 Are you a full time runners or do you have a job?

MW: I am not a full time runner. I work as an International Ship Broker finding primarily food aid cargoes for USA and Foreign flag ocean going vessels.


Check out Mike’s ever busy schedule at:




David Jeker – Transgrancanaria 125K 2017

Today, Friday February 24th at 11PM local time, the massively prestigious and sought-after ultra race Transgrancanaria starts. The race crosses the spectacular Spanish island Gran Canaria from North to South, coast-to-coast and forms part of the Ultra Trail World Tour Series and the Spain Ultra Cup, offers a challenging course rising from sea-level with a total vertical gain of around 8,000m over the 125KM race distance.

Canadian, David Jeker from Saint-Barthélemy, Québec is taking on this epic event and will feature at the sharp-end of the group lining up at the start and will race what is always a stacked field filled with plenty of the world’s ultra running stars.

David is currently living in Switzerland to complete a Masters in sport science.

We had a quick chat with him about the upcoming race and how this figures into his plans for a big year ahead.

 Is this your first race of the year?
DJ: Transgrancanaria is my first trail race of the season but I’ve raced three vertical ski mountaineering races in 2017 already.
 How are you feeling about this weekend’s Transgrancanaria?
DJ: I’m excited to get another shot at this race. I DNF’d the last two years so I’m aware of how tough things can get. This time I’m not injured and I’m mentally prepared to slowly walk to the end if needed. As always, I’ll try to get to the finish as fast as I can.
 How has your build up been with training and any racing?
DJ: I was able to get good trail running conditions until mid-January and managed to run a lot before the snow. After that most of my training was on skis. It’s my first season of ski mountaineering and I’m not sure how my fitness will translate to the trails. I came to the island early and was able to get some good running here in the last few days. Not sure my legs are ready for all the downhills but I’m curious to find out.
 How does coming out of winter conditions in training and then going into a tropical warm-climate-race affect your preparation and strategy on race day?
DJ: I’ve been staying in the south of the island since the February 12th (the race starts on the 24th) so I’m supposed to be fully acclimatized to the heat. The timing of coming down from altitude, as I live at 2000 meters above sea level is also good, so I have no excuses.

David taking in the views on the island during taper week.

 The field is always stacked at this event with it being a challenging yet pretty fast race that is always quite close at the end. How do you feel lining up against the other big names this weekend?
DJ: In this field a top ten would be awesome for me. My 2016 season was a total disaster so a good finish with great feelings is all I wish for.
 Just a pattern I have noticed in the past, everybody who has done well at this race or won in previous years goes on to have a great year. Is that in the back of your mind and why do you think it always gives those runners the boost for the year ahead?
DJ: It’s one of the most competitive ultras of the season so doing well here probably gives you a great boost of confidence. It may also be because the race is early in the year so there’s plenty of time to recover before any summer ultras.
 What are your plans for other races this year?
DJ: My 2017 schedule is loaded with big races. I’ll run many other races of the Ultra Trail World Tour with Madeira, Lavaredo, Eiger and TDS (UTMB). I hope to finish my first 100 miler at the Montreux Trail Festival in July. If I’m selected on the Canadian team, the World Championships will be the main goal of my season. Everything else is more about getting some ultra experiences before the big adventure of the year being the Tor des Geants. My Master Thesis is about racing and running so it will be a great way to end my studies.

David has taken in the scenery this week during shake-out runs as he will be head-down racing hard on race day.

 We wish David all the best and we’ll follow your progress online.
David is also a coach and you can check out more about what he offers and all info below:

Running with Michelle Barton

This past summer TrailRunning Canada returned to Colorado to run the Transrockies 6 Day for the second time, while there we met the energetic Michelle Barton. We crossed paths on the way down Hope Pass and then again on a rainy windy run into camp on stage 3, where her positive and fun trail attitude convinced me we want to know more about this amazing ultra runner.

TRC: Tell us about yourself, where did you grow up, when did you start running, when did you discover this was a life passion of yours?

Michelle: I started running 14 years ago, I grew up in Laguna Beach, California. I was exposed to high alpine mountains at a very young age. My Dad would take me backpacking in Yosemite (Tuolumne Meadows), every summer for a week, starting at age 3. Those are my most vivid and favorite childhood memories. I discovered running was a life passion when I raced the Big Baz Winter Trail 15k (it was my longest run)… On the drive home from the race I told my Dad… the Los Angeles Marathon is next weekend, I might go for it’. Dad says ‘oh, you can’t run a marathon without long runs and a training plan’. I thought to myself … yes I can. So I signed up and ran it without telling my Dad. It was not easy, I was thrashed. I had no idea what I was doing, I was in such bad shape at the finish I had to borrow a cell phone from a fellow runner to find my family and tell them to come and get me. The man handed me his phone and I couldn’t dial because my fingers were totally cramped up into claws…I couldn’t stop laughing. That moment must have been my first runners high. There is something magical about pushing your mind and body somewhere it had not previously been. I ran my first ultra (San Juan Trail 50k) in March 2002. I trained hard and came in second…I wanted first. I believe you learn twice as much racing as you do in training. I raced everything in Southern California. Before my second 50k, my neighbor said just run it like you already won it (meaning visualize the win is yours). I placed 1st woman and 2nd overall in 4:12 at the Lake Hodges 50k.

I met Dean Karnazes after Western States 100 in 2004, we became great friends. He inspired me to go faster and further and so I did. It took me 4 years to win my first 100 miler (Javalina Jundred 2006). I chick’d ALL the guys at four 50k’s and 2 100k’s. That is always FUN for me! Ran and won TransRockies co-ed mixed division in 2007. 14 years later – I won over 70 races and currently hold over 2 dozen course records. I ran Badwater in 2010. I raced everything I could, back to back weekends, back to back months. I don’t really taper, I don’t like to cut back on running because I love it so much. I made every mistake possible over the past 14 years and learned on my own from trial and error. I have had broken bones it’s part of the game.

TRC: How did you like running and racing in Canada?

Michelle: I’m fully and completely in LOVE with running and racing in Canada. It took me many years to go to Canada, I wanted to go there before I was even a runner. Now I have been to Canada three times in the past 2 months. I never saw mountains so beautiful in my life. Canada is my favorite place to run. It is so lush green in Canada as compared to brown and dry California. The turquoise colors of Lake Loiuse and Morraine Lake are spectacular. Beauty that seems almost surreal to the human eye. So far, I have been to Calgary, Croswnest Pass, Lethbridge, Waterton and Banff National park. Majo Srnik, my Vitargo teammate took me on a trail a few days before we ran Sinister 7. It was the greenest greens I had ever seen. Tall grass, beautiful rolling hills. I was not used to running in grass at all and not used to running where I can’t see where my feet were landing. Majo said to trust your feet…The more you can feel the ground, the greater the body understands its surroundings and natural movement.

TRC: This year you ran two races that I would love to run some day! Can you tell us about your experiences at Sinister 7 and Lost Soul Ultra?

Michelle: I have wanted to race in Canada for many years. Some things are worth waiting for…and these races and mountains touch my heart and soul. They are so rugged and beautiful. My main running sponsor Vitargo expanded in Canada. Finally people can buy Vitargo in Canada. I took this opportunity to race in Canada with my Vitargo teammate Majo Srnik.

These races are hard. Racing in Canada is tough. This is no groomed fire roads, like I am familiar with in Southern California. These are rugged mountains, steep unforgiving climbs (even at mile 99 at Sinister 7), lots of water crossings, rocks, slippery roots and deep mud, did I say STEEP climbs?! Let me reiterate STEEP at both Sinister 7 and Lost Soul. I was super impressed with the personal touch of the race directors and all volunteers.

Sinister 7, I was super excited for this race and to run my first race in Canada!! The race director Brian Gallant is awesome. He really puts a lot of love and care into his race to take care of 1,200 runners. I jumped into this race unprepared for a 100 mile. I had not run 100 since Badwater 2010. Majo Srnik (Team Vitargo) and I decided to run this race together. We pushed the pace in the beginning and switched to training mode and enjoy the beautiful Canadian mountains and the race together. We wanted to learn from this run as much as possible and use the 30 hours as TOF (time on feet) that we were given to finish. We decided no crew. We wanted to do this on our own; The course is divided into 7 loops. Each loop has its own personality. The climbs are super steep up and down. The hardest and prettiest loops being loops 5&6 in the dark. There were 1,200 runners at Sinister 7 and only 218 were 100 mile solo runners. This race is a good example to prove your toughness. In my book, is still respectable to finish in any time. In this race every finisher is a winner, considering

It was incredible to be able to run 100 miles with Majo. Not many people on the planet can say they have run an entire hundie with someone. We finished together in 29:20. When you cross the finish line you received a Sinister 7 medal & a custom engraved wine bottle with your finishing time etched in. Different from the US hundreds where most times you receive a belt buckle.

Lost Soul is the only Canadian qualifying race for Western States 100. The race is held in the river valley of Lethbridge Alberta, Canada. One loop is 53 Km with approximately 1200m (3600?) of elevation incline and decline. Two days before the race Majo and I found out the race started on a Friday, not a Saturday. That was comical in itself. In Lost Soul you have to remember simple rules. If you came from the river, you go to the river. If you came from the hills, you go to the hills. The Lost Soul course was hard. It was very, very hilly and overgrown and steep cooleys. I saw a few friends at Lost Soul that I met at Sinister and that was awesome. They made me feel like part of the family. Canadians rock, eh!

I definitely feel like this hundred miler went by quickly and the Sinister helped me. Majo smoked the course and took 6 hours off his time. He finished in 22 hours. We ran without a crew and pacer. We did it on our own, no formula one pit stop crew. We both finished 2nd overall. We received amazing etched tiles with your name and finishing time, they look like tombstones. We also received the famous Lost Soul Rocks for placing 1st on our age group. These rocks weigh about 20 lbs each. Pretty cool prizes. The race gave very nice New Balance Windbreaker Jackets with the Lost Soul logo to everyone. It was a very down home type race feel.

TRC: Do you train year around on a specific plan? Or are you more casual and random with your running plans?

Michelle: Living in California, we can train and race year round. I do not have a strict or conventional training plan. I never owned a Garmin and often time’s race without a watch. That being said, I am always open for change to improve and better my training methods and time. I typically train by feel/perceived exertion or what sounds most fun. I run, bike and swim every day. I don’t run a lot of miles during the week because I race often and find that my legs perform best with the run/bike combo. If I know I have a hundred mile run in my near future, I will increase my running miles and back from time on my mountain bike and cut back on gym time. If I know I have a 50k or shorter coming up, I incorporate speed work – tabatas/intervals/accelerations/ladders/tempo paced runs to get the turnover in check and breathing dialed.  I coach running and have taught my clients the importance of speed work. It is remarkable how fast one can improve if you do the work.

TRC: What’s up next and do you have any specific plans for 2015?

Michelle: Thanks for asking! I still have three races left this year 50k, trail marathon and hopefully another hundred miler. Next year I plan to stick more with hundred milers. I would love to run both Sinister 7 and Lost Soul again and better my times there. I will run the 218 mile John Muir Trail next summer. I would like to run Fat Dog as well (if the timing works with TransRockies). I will run Chris Kostman’s Salton Sea 81 mile point to point race in the spring and would like to run Badwater again as well. I will race TransRockies with Majo. I would love to run TransAlpine in Europe.  I will toss my name in the hat for Western States. Lost Soul was a Western States qualifier – a runner needed to complete the 100 or run a sub 16 at the 100k in order to qualify for the lottery, which is held in December). I will run Shadow of the Giants 50k in Yosemite – Whoo’s in El Moro 50k

TRC: What are your favourite running goodies?

Michelle: Vitargo (Tropical and grape), Vitargo-POST Recovery, INKnBURN apparel, Swiftwick Vibe zero and aspire zero, Vivo Barefoot trail freak shoes, Nathan Hydration (Speeddraw Plus handheld/Firecatcher race vest), , Zero Point compression sleeves, Coast Lights (LED Lenser P6), Saltstick, Patagonia windbreaker Jacket, iPod.

You can find out more about Michelle through the following social media sites;

Instagram: michellembarton
Facebook is:
Facebook athlete page:


Trailstoked in Revy

Trailstoke, the first ever Skyrunning event in western Canada took place in Revelstoke, BC this past Saturday July 19, 2014. Organized by the 5 Peaks racing series the event brought together a mix of solo and relay racers challenging themselves against a serious mountain course, totaling approximately 48km with 3000m of total climbing (original 60km distance was shortened due to weather). The race website touted the race as “one of the most challenging ultras in the world”.

To add to the hype, the race was also the Canadian Long Distance Mountain Running Championship with entries available to the top

1st Canadian Nick Elson rounding into the finish line.

1st Canadian Nick Elson rounding into the finish line.

Canadian male and female finishers for the North American Championships at the Pikes Peak Marathon in Colorado. Thus it wasn’t surprising to see a strong contingent of Canadian elite mountain runners toe the starting line. Even guest speaker and elite runner Max King from the United States added to the mix.

The race began with a bit of uncertainty due to the weather, bear activity and course re-routing. The original 60km route had been revised with an estimated 53km distance the night before, but eventual heavy rain, sleet and sketchy ridge snow pack reduced it further to approximately 48km in the end. As with most ultras not too many racers seemed fazed by this reduction in distance, perhaps a welcome relief to some.

Trailstoke course leg 2

The course was mainly as predicted, a long slow climb at the beginning moving into some decent views, ridge running, forest trails and then a wild decent on forest roads.  The views would have been more spectacular had it not been for the incoming rain/sleet, which had most of us grabbing our jackets for the majority of the race. One killer feature of the course was a relentless 300m+ climb at km 27 in the middle of the so-called ‘ridge running’ section of the course. The terrain was extremely varied including forest roads, single track, ridge scrambling, swamps and even up the ski hill a few places. Many runners clearly described it as a ‘mountain course’ with a large proportion of hiking for those outside the front of the pack.

Max King almost at the Trailstoke finish.

The finish line excitement did not disappoint with a few extremely close finishes considering the long distance of the event. First off was the challenge between American elite Max King and Canadian Nick Elson. Nick was nipping at Max’s heels for most of the race and it came down to the final downhill stretch of trail before the finish line where Max was able to hold a mere 40 sec lead to take first place overall and Nick claiming top Canadian. The race for first place female was easily won by Anne-Marie Madden; however Deb Russell and Michelle Katchur Roberts almost had a photo finish for second and third place with Deb narrowly eclipsing Michelle in the final stretch by only 4 seconds! There’s a great photo of the finish on the 5 Peaks Facebook page. In the relay race Laura Bestow (see photo at top) finished up the fastest relay team, Thundergun Express, which also included Justin Hains and Chessa Adsit-Morris. 

Overall the race was an excellent introduction for western Canadian trail runners to a true mountain race, apparently typical of the Skyrunning events in Europe. Despite the weather and difficult course there were a total of 130 solo and 28 relay teams finishers. The volunteers were amazing with some standing out in the cold rain for hours. Aid stations were extremely well stocked despite pre-race warnings some would need helicopter drops and be limited. I even saw pizza and some pretty gourmet looking baked goods among the usual gels, chips, oranges, etc..

Race organizers’ vision for the event was a full weekend of events, including Friday night speakers panel, Saturday night party/awards/live-music and Sunday 5 Peaks Revy event with 5k and 10k races. Initially this bumped up the race entry cost until a ‘race only’ entry option was made available for those not wanting to pay for all the extras. It appeared this strategy bumped up the number of entrants; however it did create a bit of a two-tiered atmosphere at the event. It’s definitely a difficult balancing point for the race organizers who are looking to build a culture of mountain and Skyrunning in Canada by going beyond just the race event while still catering to a large number of runners who simply just want the race event itself with no extras. At present, 2015 online registration includes only one registration option. Yet, despite these challenges, the race did seem to exert a sense of the growing culture of mountain / trail / ultra running in Canada. For example, the Friday night elite speakers panel (Adam Campbell, Melanie Bernier and Max King) was well-attended, with knowledgable questions from the audience and a sense of understanding of the accomplishments of the speakers. The challenge and apparent vision by the race organizers is to continue to build that distinctive culture of mountain running in Canada, a culture that serves to inspire and attract so many in Europe, yet is still in its infancy in Canada. However, whether it was your first ever finish of a mountain ultra race, listening to Adam Campbell’s Hardrock 100 stories, or Canadian Nick Elson running side-by-side with American elite Max King for virtually the whole race, the weekend provided many reasons for all of us to be inspired by this growing culture and sport of mountain running in Canada. Overall race results can be found here:

~Jonathan Schmidt is a trail runner in Okotoks, Alberta and founder of TrailRunning Canada. 

KneeKnacker Race Preview

 Athlete’s Corner: Knee Knacker Interviews

This Saturday July 12, 2014, many of the top BC runners will be lining up on some of their favourite North Shore trails. The Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run (or Knee Knacker for short) takes runners from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove all along the Baden-Powell Trail for 8,000 feet of vertical climb and a matching 8,000 of descent for officially 30 miles of incredibly technical trails.


Knee Knacker Race

The race is hugely popular with almost 400 entrants competing for 200 spots in each year’s lottery. The competitive fields go deep, so it would be impossible to try to predict a winner. Instead, we have two Vancouver-based runners, Chloe Gendron and Jeff Pelletier who spoke with some of the top contenders for the women’s and men’s races. Click on their names to see the original interviews on their respective blogs.

When: Saturday July 12, 2014, 6am start

Where: Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove

Distance/Elevation: 30 miles, 8,000 feet of vertical climb and 8,000 feet of descent

Time limit: 10 hours

Number of participants: 200 max (by lottery)


Women’s Race: Sam Drove, Kathy McKay and Kim Magnus.

How long have you been an ultra-trail runner and how did you get into it?

Sam: I have always been a very athletic person. I grew up on the North Shore playing pretty much every sport under the sun and spending time roaming around on the local mountains. Eventually, I gravitated toward soccer and played for 4 years at college in Florida. I have always run trails, and have spent more and more time running over the past few years. My first 50k was the Dirty Duo a few years ago, and I have raced in a couple more ultras since.

Kim Magnus

Kim Magnus

Kathy: My relationship with trails started in my last year of high school (along the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario) and quickly turned to love when I went to University at SFU on Burnaby Mountain.  Although I loved the trails, it took several years of mountain biking and off-road triathlons before I did my first ultra (Tenderfoot Boogie) in 2010.

Kim: With only one Knee Knacker under my belt as the longest run ever, I’ve got some miles ahead of me before I’d call myself an “ultra” runner. I played recreational team sports (volleyball, basketball) and did some track when I was younger. Then, I moved to Vancouver and loved the hiking. I started running, did a marathon and ran well. I hit the trails in 2012 with NSA (North Shore Athletics) for the Mountain Madness Phantom Run. I actually don’t know why I decided to do this. The main reason I trail run, despite the scrapes and getting lost, is because I’ve met the most incredible people through this sport. At all levels, everyone has this sense of pure bliss in nature and exploration.

How many times have you done Knee Knacker, and what would be an ideal finish time for you?

Sam: This will be my first time doing the KK. To be honest, I’m not sure about finish times.  I am going to try and stick to my plan and hopefully things fall into place and the day ends up feeling like a success.

Kathy: Once, in 2011, I finished in 6h20.  I had such a fun time, and look forward to doing it again.  This year, I’d be thrilled with 6h30, with a negative split and finish feeling good.  It’s such an amazing course, with amazing organizers, amazing fans, and amazing participants.  Definitely a day where anything can happen!

Kim: This is my second. I said that I wouldn’t do it again … though entered the lottery on the last day. Then on lottery night, I suddenly had to get in or the world would end. Last year was an absolute wonderful hell. I enjoyed it, but was injured and the inexperience made the last half super hard. Plus I rolled my ankle in the last 2k, sidelining me for 2 months. Main goal is to feel good: I want to enjoy it and feel powerful at the finish line. In 2013, I finished in 5h43. Hoping for the same or better.

How did you prepare up to now, is KK a goal race for you?

Sam: The KK is a goal race for me this year.  It’s something I have always wanted to participate in so I am excited to get the chance.  I ran Diez Vista earlier in the spring and Survival of the Fittest as a warm-up for the season.  I am feeling pretty good about my training so far.  I have been able to cover most of the Baden Powell Trail in the past few weeks, so there should be no surprises.

Kathy Mckay

Kathy Mckay

Kathy: I hoped to make KK a goal race this year, but school, work and other commitments changed that plan for me slightly.  As a result I’m about a month behind on training.  It will be a different kind of goal now. I tend to start too quickly in races and die off, so one of my goals for KK is to stay calm and run a negative split.  I’m building-up for Squamish50 (50/50), so my second goal is to eat, drink and pace myself so I can train the day after KK.

Kim: Last year was my first KK and trail ultra, so I diligently made it to all the training runs (until I fell and smashed my face and knees two weeks before the race). This year, I haven’t been as married to the KK specific runs – only because I have wonderful people and spectacular trails to also train on – and want to avoid Baden Powell Trailburnout before race day.  KK is not a goal race, although I’d obviously like to do well. My taper begins Sunday (June 29) as I’m also preparing for Squamish50 (50mile) – which I’m completely terrified of.

What is your strategy for the race?

Sam: This terrain is what I love to run on.  Lots of technical trail up and down mountains. I am not entirely sure how fast other folks will be, so I’ll wait for race day for that.  My main goal is to just take things as they come and enjoy the experience.  For me, making sure my nutrition is consistent throughout the race is always a challenge.  I don’t have a crew out with me, just a lot of moral support from family and friends.

Sam Drove

Sam Drove

Kathy: I aim to hold back and hit Cleveland Dam at 3h20, and drink/eat 25% more than usual, see how that sets me up for the next day’s run.  I can’t wait to try out my new La Sportiva Bushidos, especially in the fun downhills.

Kim: There are a few things. First, the standard list that Martin (my boyfriend) tells me when I leave the house on weekend mornings:

  1. Don’t fall
  2. Don’t get lost
  3. Don’t hurt yourself
  4. Don’t hurt others
  5. Don’t get chased by a bear
  6. ****HAVE FUN****

Plus: A good taper. Fuel well before, during, after (food, salt, hydration). Don’t start out too fast….but not too slow either. I do better uphill than downhill – so I’ll charge up and meekly trot down. I’m trialling new shoes right now – La Sportiva Bushido.


Men’s Race: Oliver Utting, Graeme Wilson and Mike Murphy

How long have you been an ultra-runner and how did you get into it?

Oliver: I think about 8 years, I started with 5 Peaks races and other local trail races. I felt like I needed a change from road racing, although I still enjoy road racing too.

Graeme: I completed my first ultra in May of this year, the Sun Mountain 50 miler… so officially, I’ve been an ultra-runner for hmmm, what’s that, about two months now?  I attempted a few ultras last year, but didn’t quite make it to the finish line (Knee Knacker and Meet Your Maker 50 miler).

I started running later in life, in my 30’s, and seemed to gravitate toward the road marathon distance straight away. After quite a few years of this, I found that I was starting to lack enthusiasm for the road scene, particularly the constant required awareness of absolute pace times during training and racing. I had tried a few local trail races over the years while I was running on the road and just loved everything about them. I thought that a switch to trail racing would breathe new life into my running – and it did. It just so happened that just around the time I was considering switching to trail running that I started training with my current training partner, Oliver Utting, and he was a big advocate for ultra-running, so he strong-armed me into the ultra-running scene.

Mike: My first Ultra was the 2012 Meet Your Maker in Whistler. In hindsight, I was quite underprepared for that race. Thankfully, I didn’t really know what I was getting in to, so I didn’t worry too much about it beforehand. Up to that point in time I had really been a jack-of-all-trades, competing in a wide variety of events: triathlon, mtb, cyclocross, running (road and a bit of trail), swimming, bmx… Having been in a wide variety of race situations, I felt confident that i could adapt on the day and at least make it to the finish. Since MYM50 though, I’ve been hooked. My main focus now is on trail running and trail ultras.

How many times have you done Knee Knacker?

Oliver:  I have started the Knee Knacker 5 times and finished 4 times. I have been 2nd twice, as well as 3rd and 4th.

Graeme: I have run the Knee Knacker once, last year – well 7/8ths of it anyways.  I remember telling my wife after the race that I’d never run the race again. I didn’t quite say it as nicely as that though.

Mike: Last year was my first crack at the Knee Knacker [2nd place]. Maybe five or six years ago, I remember thinking how nuts people were to want to run from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove. Hearing stories from friends who raced it, it sounded like a really tough and punishing course. Little did i realize that ‘tough and punishing’ would become my fuel and motivation.

How have you prepared this year and have you done anything differently than in the past?

Oliver: The majority of my mid-week running is on the way to work, usually with a bike ride the other direction. I still train like a road racer so have been doing things like hill intervals at SFU up Nicole’s, tempos up the TransCanada trail at SFU, marathon pace runs, and 4-5 hr runs the North Shore – Ok, road racers don’t do the latter. My volume is pretty low compared to other ultra runners I think. I train a lot with Graeme Wilson and every time I think I have run a lot, it turns out that he has run more than me. If I get 70 to 80 miles in a week of running that is a pretty good week for me. I did my first 50 miler this year, so I am hoping that will help with the endurance for 50 km.

Graeme: The most important thing I’ve learned, particularly for a race like the Knee Knacker, is the rule specificity. I made the mistake last year of doing easy longish runs on technical trails, and almost all of my hard training on trails (almost groomed paths) with good footing.  That didn’t prepare me very well for extended length hard running on technical trails. I think that to maximize your potential on the Knee Knacker course, you’ve got to do at least some of your hard workouts on the race course, or on trails that are similar to the key sections found in the race. Whether doing short or long hill intervals, or extended duration tempo efforts, I think it is important to incorporate harder workouts on terrain that provides for constant variation of stride length and lateral movement while running hard while in a fatigued state. Having said that, I still believe it is important to get in once every 10 to 14 days, a solid extended duration tempo, or tempo interval workout either on flat ground or on long uphill road or trail stretches with good footing.

Mike: By the middle of last year, it became obvious that my running volume couldn’t  back up my desire. I barely survived the Knee Knacker. I hurt my knee in the race (how appropriate), and I struggled with that injury for the following 2 months. I just didn’t want to back off, and my knee took a long time to heal up. The big difference for me this year is that I have upped my running volume. Specifically, quality long runs in the 4-8 hr range. Besides that, my training is fairly similar to past years. I have always done a lot of cross training and strength work, and continue to do so. I’m really big on a ‘funnel’ approach to my training: a lot of variety when a race is still months away, but then slowly becoming more and more specific (to the physiological demands of the event) as the race gets closer.

Do you have any specific goals for the race?

Oliver: More than most other events, the Knee Knacker is a personal battle so I would like to beat my personal best time (4:57:56).  The terrain is so hard you really have to run your own race and not worry about everyone else. So I don’t really have a place goal. Of course, I would like to win but if I run a good race for me then I will be happy.

Graeme: To be honest, I feel a little weird talking about specific results, seeing that I had a DNF result last year. For me, it is all about the fun of racing others, and I hope to be in the mix with the leaders coming down into Panorama Park come race day.

Mike: I feel like I ran a really smart race last year and that I was able to leave everything I had out on course. I did make mistakes, but I did a great job of working through them. I’m sure everyone racing knows that it’s a roller-coaster out there (emotionally, physically, and gravitationally). You just need to keep working, smooth out the highs and lows, and get through the rough spots.  I would really like to be able to duplicate my focus and effort from last year, but obviously skip the hard crash I took on Hollyburn. I will have my best performance if I am able to slightly negative split the course; running quicker from the dam to Deep Cove, than from Horseshoe Bay to the dam. So to get to the answer, my goal for the race is to be disciplined and to focus on that process (neg split). Hopefully that will get me to the finish slightly quicker than last year.

Any tips for other runners doing Knee Knacker for their first time?

Oliver: Don’t start too hard, eat lots, drink even more, and don’t give up. And watch your step!

Graeme: A conservative effort over the first half of the course will very likely pay huge dividends on the second half. Check out the 2010 Knee Knacker results and look up Ellie Greenwood’s split times. No explanation needed.

Mike: My advice for any first time Knee Knacker is to get out on course before race day. Specifically, the first half. Knowing what you are in for while going up Black Mtn, and pacing yourself appropriately, will make the rest of your day so much more enjoyable!

Best of luck to everyone who “Won the Lottery”.

Chloe Gendron will be participating in this year’s Knee Knacker for the third time. You can follow her blog at

Jeff Pelletier participated in last year’s Knee Knacker. You can follow his blog and see his photography and videography at


Skyrunning Contest Winners Announced!

We have our winners! Winners of our Trail Running Canada Skyrunning Canada contest receive a free entry into one distance of the upcoming Ultra Trail du Mont Albert event held in the beautiful National Park of Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec. Events are held on June 27 – 29, 2014.

Some of our winners who are able to attend will be sharing their experiences with our readers via blogs and photos. We’ll be posting their updates as we receive them on our website or via Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you to all who entered! If your name is below and you haven’t received an email, please check your junk mail folder or email

Vertical Kilometer:

Juanita Chalmer

Jillian Walker


Eric Caron

Elaine Fung


Caroline Drolet

Travis Thompson


Benoit Hovington

Michael Milner

Trail Rumblings – One Stride Forward. Three and a Half Feet Back.

You’d think living in the mountains is all pros when it comes to trail running. But when Canadian winter comes to town and refuses to budge well past its expiry date, you can’t help but find a few cons in there too. From ski distractions, to spring seemingly being put on hold well into April, getting ready for early race season is often a case of one stride forward, three and a half feet of snow back, with a whole bunch of panicking in between. Here lies the discontented, seasonal mumblings of a trail running, skiing and craft beer over-enthusiast…

November 2013

Amazing adventure running the Grand Canyon R2R2R! Trail running, climbing, sweating, sightseeing and general awe. Never been in better running mind or shape this time of year before. Must be a good sign. Bring on 2014 race season.

Early December 2013

Blissful running vacation joys shattered by weeks of predominantly horizontal precipitation. Runner’s high somewhat dampened, but must soldier on and embrace evening headlamp adventures with a smile. Despite cougar sightings and the constant feeling that someone’s watching you.

Mid-December 2013

All is not lost, ski season has arrived. Hurrah! Goodbye trail shoes, hello skiing. And the occasional après ski beverage…stay strong, just say no. Oh go on then.

New Year’s 2014

Oh my God, it’s January. Where did December go? Ah yes, to the ski hill and general festive guffawing. Subsequently slightly pickled, with goggle mark windburn. New Year’s resolution, get running and enter some early season races to ensue panic training. And do annual yoga cleanse.

Mid-January 2014

12 days of yoga, accompanied by a diet of blended greens. Never been so hungry in my life. On the upside can almost touch toes.

Late January 2014

Fresh off the back of finding my ohm, gleefully enter Rainshadow Running’s Gorge Waterfalls 100km race, in late March. It’s still only January, so no big deal. It’s cold, but that’s what thermals are for. Combination of grit covered road loops, plowed logging roads and Nordic Ski trails ensure increased mileage and general positivity to all things running. Celebrate with spending a ridiculous amount of money on winter running paraphernalia to ensure this habit continues.

Nothing like new gear and an empty bank account to make you feel like a runner, right?

Early February 2014

Or not. Panic training has reinvented itself as pure panic. It’s February and we appear to be living in something called the Ice Age. Can barely make it to the car, let alone run. Never mind, shall see what all this Downton Abbey hype is all about and embrace the treadmill. Who knew early 20th Century drama could make treadmill running so emotional? Treadmill now making strange noises, best put things on hold whilst an entire weekend is eaten up at the ski hill.

Don’t panic. It’s only February.

Mid-February 2014

The Ice Age has slightly subsided and bare skin no longer goes white, perfect time to try this winter trail running malarkey again. Positive thoughts. Must continue to stay virtuous to the outdoors, and not be tempted by Lord Grantham’s Downton dramas.

Late February 2014

False alarm. Weather which has only previously been endured by Noah and his Ark hits town. Basement floods, trails flood, the City of Fernie floods. Only acceptable footwear is wellies. Downton Abbey it is.

Early March 2014

What is this burning ball in the sky? Could this be spring? Is trail running an actual reality?

Don’t be silly, it’s just dumped three and a half feet of snow. Minor setback to trail running endeavours. There is no way a 100km race is a feasible option. Switch entry to Yakima Skyline 50km in April. Feel much better about trail running and subsequently life in general.

Isn’t trail running life?

Late March 2014

Weather seems to have got itself together. Mileage grows at a similar rate to smile and subsequent positive trail running thoughts. Trails must be clearing of snow pretty quick with a whole one and a half days of sun! Hit the trails, smile a blazing, arms a pumping. Posthole up to crotch. Ah, perhaps not. Not to worry, clear roads and bluebird skies make post-work running a joy.

Seriously, is everyone other than me having a BBQ right now? Spend next hour of running contemplating dinner.

April 2014

Ski hill closes. At least one distraction has been removed from the equation. And first race coming up! Very excited and unprepared, but no longer care. Must check website for race details. Oh God. On closer inspection, Yakima appears to be in a desert. And race has near on 9,500ft of elevation and loss. Foresee some issues, as treadmill only goes to gradient 15 before hit head on basement ceiling.

But at least it’s not 100kms, right?

May 2014

Survived race one. Season officially underway. Must keep calm over the recent dog-eating Coyote, aggressive Grizzly and hungry eyed wolf reports, and instead locate recent dirt sightings. Must shrug off the “still running?” and “thought you’d never do it again?” comments from bewildered friends. And of course, must not panic, after all running is sole focus for the next 5 months.

Ah damn it, golf course just opened. Anyone for 9?


~Abi Moore is The North Face Canadian Trail Running Ambassador for British Columbia.

Catching up with…Mel Bos

TrailRunning Canada caught up with elite Canadian trail and ultra runner Melanie Bos. Read our interview below as we catch up with one of Canada’s best ultra runners.

TRC: What have you been up to this winter?

MB: This winter I spent training for HURT 100 in Hawaii.  It made for some long cold runs.  Unfortunately, the race did not go as planned and I dropped about half way.  I’ve come to realize that these things happen in ultras and you just need to accept and move on if you want to continue to enjoy the sport.  After returning home, I got out for some skiing with my family and took a bit of down time.

TRC: How has your training gone to this point?

MB: Since starting up again this spring things have gone well. I just raced Chuckanut and was happy with my results.  I’ve taken it a bit easy since the race to allow a bit extra recovery time.  I’m feeling optimistic about this year.

TRC: Seems like there are more and more races to choose from in Canada. What’s your take on the growth?

MB: I think it’s great to have more options in the sport.  When I did my first 50k, the Keremeos Cruncher, it was the only trail race in the Okanagan.  That race doesn’t exist anymore, but there are several others with shorter, less intimidating distances as well.  My life gets really busy too with kids activities and family commitments, so more options work for me!!

TRC: How does it feel to be such role model not just for women but young people in general getting into the sport?

MB: Wow, I have to say I’m flattered to be asked that question! I am so grateful to have the opportunities ultra running has brought to my life.  Being able to run and feel free on the trails is a gift and I love hearing that my enthusiasm and dedication to the sport inspire others to take on challenges or step out their comfort zones.  It actually provides more motivation and confirmation for me and what I do.

TRC: What are you most looking forward to this season?

MB: I have a few races lined up for this year and I’m considering one more attempt at World 100km, if it’s on…But this year I’ve planned a couple long training runs on trails I’ve been wanting to explore for sometime with some dear friends.  There is a trail that runs from Vernon to Kelowna, the High Rim, which will be amazing and a few runs on the Sunshine Coast.   

Catching up with…Adam Campbell

With the first day of spring upon us, TrailRunning Canada found out what elite endurance athlete Adam Campbell has been up to this long winter season.

TRC: So what have you been up to this winter?

AC: I’ve been settling into a new routine and learning to embrace winter again. I’ve gone back to working full-time as general counsel at an environmental engineering firm; I also manage the regulatory team there. Since Calgary’s had one of its worst winters in recent memory and I’ve been spoiled by west coast winters for a long time, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to avoid getting frostbite, while exploring the local mountains every chance I get. I believe that the Rockies are the most amazing and stunning mountain playground.

I haven’t had as many opportunities to do ski mountaineering objectives like I’d hoped because the avalanche conditions have been very high around these parts. I did do my first ever ski mountaineering race and am doing my second one, the Canadian Championships at KickingHorseMountain. It’s a sport I love more every year.

TRC: How has your training gone thus far?

AC: Training has gone quite well. I’ve had to get a bit creative with it at times because Calgary is quite a bit flatter than Vancouver. I can get much more specific with my training on the weekends, when I escape to the mountains, but during the week I’ve found myself running on indoor track, on a treadmill at max incline, doing some strength training and lots and lots of slogging through snow. Overall I feel like I’m in a good place for this time of year.

TRC: What are your goal races this year?

AC: My main race goals for the year are the Hardrock 100 miler. It was a real treat to be selected to race it this year. It has without a doubt the best field ever assembled there and by all accounts, it’s one of the most beautiful and challenging mountain runs in the world. I’m giving that race a lot of respect. Gary Robbins and Aaron Heidt have agreed to crew for me, so we’ll have a great Canuck presence down there.

Another race I’m doing is the Rut 50k- It’s the Skyrunner Ultra World Series finale, so it will draw an amazing international field.

I’ll be doing other events including the Squamish 50 and lots of the 5 Peaks events. I also have my eye on a few big FKT attempts in the Rockies.

TRC: What has been the biggest impact to your running since moving east to Calgary?

AC: It’s more that I’m back to working full-time. I’ve had to become a bit more disciplined with my training. I’m training much earlier in the morning and late at night than I’m used to. Also, as I said above, due to a rather harsh winter and slightly different topography, I’ve had to get more creative with my sessions. It’s actually been fun. Being so close to the Rockies has also been a treat.

TRC: What are you most looking forward to this year?

Beyond Hardrock, I can’t wait for summer to explore deeper into the local terrain.

Thanks Adam and good luck this year!

Gear for the Canadian Winter

This season I’ve gotten the chance to test out some Mountain Hardwear gear. Winters in Ontario can get pretty frigid with the wind chill and high humidity, keeping warm and dry make for better long runs in the crisp trails.

Winter running is one of my favourite things. The pristine and sparkling trails make me feel alive and renewed. But it’s not always perfect. I feel the damp cold and have struggled with finding gear that will help me stay out there longer and at the right temperature. Recently I’ve been training for my first winter ultra and have been really putting some new gear to the test in all sorts of conditions.

The Integral Pro Long Sleeve Hoodie has been great at keeping me warm and dry. It’s a Merino Wool blend with polypropylene. When choosing the right layers for the cold, I found it can be tricky to find that balance to avoid overheating and sweating which leads to a continuous chilly feeling. It’s super lightweight so using this alone or as a layer doesn’t make you feel overly bulky and restricting. It washes well and has those handy thumb loops, but my favourite extra feature is the tiny key pocket and I’ve always been a big fan of hoodies just in case the wind picks up.

The Effusion Power Tight has been working well in the cold temperatures. In the fall I had reached out to the community seeking recommendations on a good winter running tight. I was keen to try this tight out after reading some positive posts. In the past I’ve struggled with two things in a winter running tight, wind blocker and knee movement. I’m impressed with where the wind blocker has been mapped out on this tight in combination with stretch fabrics. While I’ve found this in some other tights, this one has the most freedom of movement while still having the wind blocker in the best spots. The other really cool feature is the clamshell knee design allowing complete knee movement. It features my favourite little key pocket and reflective prints for night running, which is important if you’re like me and most weekdays during this season it’s dark by the time you get out of the office for your much anticipated evening run!

 ~Kelly Ann Wald is a trail runner from Barrie, Ontario and was the 2013 The North Face Canadian Trail Ambassador for Ontario

Canadian Stacie Carrigan Places 3rd at Lesotho Ultra Trail

Post Update: Stacie completed the first ever Lesotho Ultra Trail race with a stellar result, coming in third place among a tough field of elite female ultra runners, completing the course in 7:23. A big thanks to Ryne Melcher(@RyneMelcher) for live-tweeting the event and to Maliba Lodge for accommodating Stacie and Ryne during the event. Check back through our Twitter feed @trailrunningCan for photos and updates that occurred during the race. Also, more photos here:

Stacie finishing strong in 3rd place at the first ever Lesotho Ultra 55k.

Here’s our previously posted preview for the race.

Excitement is building for Africa’s first Ultra SkyMarathon® and Canadian Stacie Carrigan (2013 Run for the Toad Winner) will be mixing it up with an elite field of ultra runners from around the world. Ryne Melcher is on the ground in Lesotho and will be covering the race for TrailRunning Canada. Read some details about the race from the official press release below.

The countdown has begun to Africa’s first Ultra SkyMarathon®, the Lesotho Ultra Trail.

With less than 36 hours to go before the 55km ultra trail race through the Tsehlanyane National Park in the heart of Lesotho’s Maloti Mountains, anticipation is building amongst the trail running community for this, the second South Africa Skyrunning Association (SASA)-sanctioned event on the South African trail running calendar.

LUT 1After the success of the Matroosberg SkyMarathon® in October, skyrunning fever is running high, setting the ground for the imminent announcement of a national skyrunning series in 2014.

Presented by Maliba Lodge, KZN Trail Running and The North Face, the Lesotho Ultra Trail will see a selection of South Africa’s best trail runners facing the challenge of an ultra-distance, high altitude course boasting more than three kilometres of vertical ascent, peaking at 3155m above sea level.

Big names include South African trail star and winner of the Verdon Canyon Challenge in France AJ Calitz (K-Way/Vivobarefoot), mountain running legend and winner of the 2012 Otter African Trail Run Iain Don Wauchope (The North Face), 2013 SA Ultra Trail winner Nic de Beer, Stellenbosch-based mountain runner Andrew Hagen (Vibram) and Gauteng trail speedster Lucky Mia.

DCIM100GOPROIn the women’s field, Canadian ultra trail star Stacie Carrigan will be dicing one of the most competitive women’s contingent of any southern African ultra trail race to date, including Matroosberg SkyMarathon® winner Robyn Kime (The North face), 2013 SA Ultra trail champ Tracy Zunckel (Race Food), 2011 Otter African Trail Run winner Su Don Wauchope (The North Face) and SA ultra running legend Linda Doke (Salomon).

With Lesotho offering world class skyrunning terrain and warm hospitality, the Lesotho Ultra Trail is set to become one of the continent’s premier off-road ultras.

For more information about the race, visit of follow the race live via Twitter []


From the Flat Lands to the Mountains

While this article may not relate to those who live in the mountains, for those that live in the flat lands and have ever thought about just randomly signing up and heading out to a mountain race, here is my experience from a first timer.  First off I should note that I’m from Ontario, and this is where I started running in the trails about two years ago. Ontario is roughly 246ft – 686ft above sea level. Like many runners, it didn’t take long for my curiosity about mountain running to develop. With so much mountain exposure in the media, one can only read enough intriguing stories before the desire to explore the mountain mystery takes over.

This past summer I decided I was going to find out. Not being sure if I was ready and what to expect, I signed up for the Transrockies 6 Day Run in Colorado. I chose this race because I wanted time in the mountains. More than just one day, and more than just one mountain, to give myself a chance to be absorbed in the experience fully with nothing but running, eating and sleeping on the agenda.

After I signed up I began some research. Maybe I should have done this the other way around, but this is me. When researching the effects of altitude, I quickly discovered it’s one of those situations that you can’t know how it impacts you until you’re up there on the mountain. I then mentally prepared myself to expect that I would experience some altitude sickness in some form, maybe a headache or nausea. So what could I do to help avoid this while down here close to sea level? First option I looked into was an oxygen tent, to buy one, $3000 – $5000 and up, to rent one, a couple hundred dollars for a couple weeks. These were some estimates I found. When asking around, the feedback was 50/50, some said it was the best thing they invested in, while others said it made minimal difference. The next option I stumbled upon was arriving early to let your body acclimatize. The concept of being in an elevated environment where the exposure was consistent to the body made more logical sense to me, plus it meant a couple more days in the mountains just hanging out.

From what I remember the race starts around 9000ft the first day, and then the remaining days are around 10,000ft and up to 12,500ft above sea level. I arrived 3 days photo1before the race and camped at an elevation of about 8000ft in Buena Vista. I don’t remember feeling anything abnormal while camping. But I have to believe that in the days leading up to the race, camping at elevation did the trick. I survived running and camping at elevation for the 6 days with no altitude sickness. With that being said, it doesn’t mean running felt the same as it did back home. My pace was slower and my breathing heavier. I needed to hydrate more and consumed more sugar to sustain what I felt was a “good” energy level. As the week went on I found my body adjusted and all this became better. While not everyone’s cup of tea, I bought a pair of Black Diamond Ultra Mountain Running Poles I picked up last minute at MEC for about $150.00. Super light and easy to expand and fold up, I was happy to have these for the big climbs. To my surprise it turned out there was a good amount of people there that were using poles as well. I really thought I was most likely going to be the odd one out. And it made me feel even better as I learned that I was not the only one to “start learning how to” use poles for the first time at the race. The running pack I used for this race was different than the packs I use back home. They require you to carry a rain jacket, gloves, hat and emergency blanket to be on the mountain. I needed a pack with room to carry these items, plus my poles, water and of course my sugar and salt. I used the Omega pack by UltrAspire.


Kelly (author) and teammate Scott Garrett completing the TransRockies Run6.

What I thought to expect and how it turned out was quite different. The thought of heading out to the mountains was intriguing and intimating, hence why I wanted to go so badly. But once out there I found it calm and welcoming. In saying this I should also note that the weather was perfect and the mountains calm and behaved from what I was told for the entire time I was there. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had and I’m glad I took the plunge. The views from the mountains were well worth every climb. In terms of the quality of the race itself, I couldn’t have asked for better. The course and aid stations were well marked and stocked. Tent City was home sweet home all ready by the time I rolled in and the food and was excellent. Not to mention all the great people I met while there.

On a last note, I found that my body handled running up and down a mountain at elevation better than flat over all at sea level. I had some concern over whether my legs would like going uphill for a long time and then pounding downhill for a long time. It seems like a perfect balance as opposed to running flat for extended distances. At the time of the race I didn’t put much thought into it. But when I returned home and was unpacking, I came across a bag of coffee that had been given to me at the race and travelled with me home. The bag was so compressed that it was as solid as a brick. Is this what is happening to our bodies at sea level too? Just a thought…

~Kelly Wald is 2013 The North Face Trail Ambassador for Ontario