Page 1

ISSUE 7

NEW SHOE REVIEWS Spring/Summer 2014

ROB KRAR Ultra Nice Guy

CANADIAN LEGEND Andy Jones

RUN LIKE A GIRL


Education.

Inspiration.

Empowerment. Impossible2Possible (i2P) is a non-profit organization dedicated to using the platform of adventure and technology to educate, inspire, and empower the global community to reach beyond their perceived limits and make positive change in the world. There is no cost for schools, Youth Ambassadors, or students to participate in Experiential Learning Programs and Expeditions. To learn more, please visit www.impossible2possible.com.


COVER: Tom Craik on Snakes and Ladders, Lower Fromme in North Vancouver, BC.

What’s

INSIDE LEGENDS OF CANADIAN ULTRA RUNNING : ANDY JONES

Photo credit: Robert Shaer rob@robshaer.com | RobShaer.com

RUN LIKE A GIRL by Hailey Van Dyk

28 LA RUTA

by Jonathan Sinclair and Melissa Gosse

by Gary Robbins

13

32 9

COME FOR THE WINTER, STAY FOR THE SUMMER by Abi Moore

by Stacey Cleveland

18 EDITORIAL

Meet the Editors

MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR GEAR REVIEWS

ULTRA NICE GUY: ROB KRAR

SPRING/SUMMER TRAIL SHOE REVIEW BOOK REVIEW: THE SUMMIT SEEKER BY VANESSA RUNS SUUNTO AMBIT2

4 39 40 42 43

17

TRAIL DOG: ROXY ROBBINS by Linda Barton-Robbins

24

VULTURE BAIT: A RACE DIRECTOR’S PERSPECTIVE by Jennifer-Anne Meneray

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LESOTHO by Ryne Melcher

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BEING AN AMBASSADOR by Kelly Anne Wald

37

ACUPUNCTURE & TRAIL RUNNING by Kim Graham

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EDITORS Linda Barton-Robbins Gary Robbins

EDITORIAL

DESIGN & LAYOUT Alex Whyte ADVERTISING & MARKETING Jonathan Schmidt CONTRIBUTORS Jennifer-Anne Meneray Linda Barton-Robbins Stacey Cleveland Melissa Gosse Kim Graham Keith Iskiw Ryne Melcher Abi Moore Gary Robbins Jonathan Sinclair Haily Van Dyk Kelly Anne Wald

Have a comment or story? Write or email us to: TrailRunning Canada 244 Woodhaven Drive Okotoks, AB T1S 1S8 run@trailrunner.ca TrailRunningCanada.ca Copyright 2014 TrailRunning Canada

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Meet the Editors Gary Robbins, born and raised in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, I moved west in the mid-90s and have established myself as a fixture on the West Coast trail running scene since 2004. I used to be able to say that I was a newcomer to trail running, but since it’s closing in on ten years now I guess that’s no longer the case. I was not a runner whatsoever prior to my permanent move to BC in 2004 and I’ve certainly gotten my feet wet over the years, literally, of course. I’ve had some results I’m proud of over the years, but if pressed to

list accomplishments they would revolve more along the lines of heading up running clinics, directing trail races, and getting first timers out onto the trails. I used to manage a running store in Squamish, BC and turning newbies into regulars was certainly the highlight of that four year period of my life. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than crossing paths with many of those people nearly ten years on to see how they have become trail runners for life. Running on trails can have a transformative like quality to it and that’s what’s always

made it so special to me. There is nothing I love more than running through the forest and the mountains, exploring and playing while all the while satiating that childlike desire to feel free. It’s been a pleasure to step behind the scenes to piece this magazine together for nothing more than the love of the sport within Canada. I sincerely hope that our efforts to bring trail running stories to life via TrailRunning Canada will help inspire people to discover trail running for themselves.


QUICK FACTS ABOUT

GARY AND LINDA First Trail Race LBR: Port Gamble 50K, Port Gamble, WA 2007. GR: Club Fat Ass Mountain Highway Madness, BC 2004

Linda Barton-Robbins, born and raised in Washington State. Yes, I am an American who is now a coeditor for TrailRunning Canada magazine. Although I grew up closely to the Cascade Mountains, the closest my family ever came to hiking was the five minute walk to the river from our carcampsite. I instead spent my formative years doing ballet and gymnastics and faking cramps in gym class to get out of running the mile test. Just over 10 years ago, out of boredom I began training for a non-existent 10K. This led to my first outdoor run of 16k and a feeling of invincibility. I ran a marathon and then a half marathon and soon I craved more. My first ultra marathon, as though foreshadowing my future, brought me to Canada. I ran the Loop the Lake Marathon and a Half (63k) in Invermere, BC and I was hooked. Now, I’ve lost count of the number of races I’ve done

and I certainly have no idea how many hours I’ve spent on trails and in the mountains. I’ve fallen in love with the sport and the entire community. It’s where I’ve met my best friends and my husband Gary. Trail runners are a special breed of people who appreciate the outdoors and what it means to endure. We’re tough and thoughtful and emotional and gritty and accepting of diversity and adversity. We’re amazing. Add some over the top niceness and you have Canadian trail runners. When I moved here I could hardly believe the welcome I received. I am surrounded by strong runners of all speeds who are constantly bursting at the seams to get outside. I love it here and feel lucky and grateful to be a new member to this community. It will be with this in mind that I will do my best as your new coeditor in spite of my American birth certificate. /\/

First Ultra Race LBR: Loop the Lake Marathon and a Half, Invermere, BC 2006 GR: Stormy 67K, Squamish, BC 2004 What they do to pay the bills? LBR: Public Librarian GR: Race Director, Coast Mountain Trail Series, Squamish 50, Salomon, Red Bull, Spartan Races What They Do When They Aren’t Running LBR: Read, cook, snuggle the cat and dog (separately) GR: Root for the Oilers, ski tour, play hockey Goal Races for 2014 LBR: Laura Secord 100K, Miwok 100K, Knee Knacker (lottery dependant), Squamish 50/50, The Rut 12K, IMTUF or Mogollon Monster GR: HURT 100m, Gorge Waterfalls 50K, UTMF 100m, Skyrunning 80K Championships, Cascade Crest 100, The Rut 50K, TNF50m San Francisco

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6 | Issue 7: 2014


Photo courtesy Andrew Pape-Salmon

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Ultra Nice Guy: Rob Krar by Stacey Cleveland

INTERVIEWS

To say that 2013 was a sensational year for Rob Krar would be an understatement. As understated as the man himself, in fact. Fast and fearless, yet humble and soft-spoken, Rob started raising eyebrows in the ultra running world early in the year when he set course records at the Leona Divide 50 Mile and the Moab Red Hot 55K before establishing the fastest known time for a Rim-toRim-to-Rim double crossing of the Grand Canyon in a blazing six hours and 21 minutes. He then went on to place a very respectable—and close—second at the famed Western States 100 Mile in his first attempt at that distance, and win the highly competitive Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 100K.

named the Male Ultra Runner of the Year by UltraRunning magazine. What you may be surprised to learn about this running phenom who is taking the US ultra scene by storm is that he is Canadian.

Along the way, Rob signed on to represent The North Face and finished his season with a win at their marquee event the Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships in San Francisco.

TrailRunning Canada (TRC): Currently, you live in Flagstaff, Arizona, but you grew up in Hamilton, Ontario. Can you tell me a little about that? Were sports a big part of your life growing up? Are you from an athletic family?

After such a successful year of racing, it was no surprise when Rob was recently

Rob Krar (RK): I’ve been active from an early age— one of my earliest sporting

Buffalo Park in Flagstaff where Rob does his speed work.

memories is skiing with my family on the trails next door in Ancaster. My family has always been active and very supportive of my endeavors. I played soccer in the summers early on before I began running in grade six.

Indiana)

on

an

athletic

High school included running cross-country, indoor and outdoor track, water polo and badminton. The summers were spent on the triathlon circuit competing along with my older brother and my dad.

blown out when my running

TRC: You attended Butler University (a Division I school in Indianapolis,

up the shoes and put running

scholarship,

running

track

cross-country.

and

both

After university, did you have any interest in pursuing a professional running career? RK: Not at all! I was really eligibility ended in 2001. Juggling running with the demands of my pharmacy program had taken its toll and for the first time running wasn’t fun anymore. I hung behind me while I finished the final year of my degree.

TrailRunningCanada.ca | 9


Welland triathlon (1994).

I spent a couple years in Phoenix after graduating in 2002, but it wasn’t until I moved to Flagstaff in 2005 and found the amazing running community here that I had any interest in lacing the shoes up again. TRC: As a pharmacist, you work some long hours and unusual shifts. You’ve obviously found ways to adapt your training needs around your work schedule. Has this been a hardship for you or is there some advantage? RK: My work schedule certainly has its advantages and disadvantages! I work 10- or 11-hour overnight shifts every other week (seven nights on then seven days off). The weeks I’m working are challenging and often don’t allow for much more than work, eat and sleep. These seven-day blocks begin and end on Wednesdays and allow time for my body to readjust to a day schedule by the time the weekend rolls around

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One of Rob’s first triathlons (1990)

which helps with racing. The schedule is difficult for sure, but I’ve been working it for 11 years and I’ve found an effective routine, and the time away from work makes it worthwhile. TRC: Ultra running is still something of a niche sport. Do your co-workers have any idea of what you’ve achieved this year or is every race just another “marathon” to them? We all know someone who refers to any running race—from 5K to a 100 miles—as a marathon. RK: I’m a pretty quiet guy and tend not to talk much of my running adventures at work. I don’t know how much my coworkers know about our little sub-culture. However, from what they have gleaned, they’ve been very supportive and encouraging. TRC: You’ve competed at a high level in track and field, road, trail, mountain and ultra running. Do prefer a variety of surfaces, terrains and distances or is there one that really resonates with you?

RK: The trail and ultra community has been incredibly warm and welcoming the past two years and I certainly feel I’ve found my niche in running. The time I spent around track and on the roads were an important part of my journey to the ultra distance, but both took their toll on my body in the end and aren’t types of running I’ll return to. At this point in my life, trail running really resonates with me and fits well with my lifestyle. TRC: Can you briefly summarize some of the

Competing at World Triathlon Championships in Wellington, New Zealand (1994) on Canadian Junior Team. 

running-related injuries you’ve had to deal with over the years? RK: Navicular stress fracture in college. Plantar fasciitis when I began running in 2005 after a four year break. Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, or overtraining syndrome as I’ve recently heard it called, in 2008. Haglunds deformity in 2009; requiring surgery in 2010. Also resulted in pinched sciatica nerve

I’m no longer a mileage hound and truly believe an extra day of rest is often more beneficial than squeezing in one more workout or long run.


from running through the injury for too long. Injury free since returning to running in 2012 after 2.5 years away, recovering from surgery. TRC: How has being sidelined by injury influenced your approach to training now? Or has it? RK: Sure, I know I’m not invincible! Seriously though, learning that taking time off is smarter and stronger than pushing through pain at times is a tough lesson. It’s easy to get in a mindset to push and then push some more. My injury in 2009 was debilitating and eventually led to surgery in 2010. The recovery was long and by early 2011, I’d

given up on the idea of ever running “gentleman’s pace” with friends, let alone racing again.

These days, I don’t

take a single run for granted. TRC: Do you do anything to minimize your risk of injury? For

example,

massage,

physical therapy, stretching, yoga, strength training. RK: I have a circuit routine that I complete at home twice a week during the season. It’s a big part of the puzzle in keeping my body happy and healthy. I stretch most days with a rope using a technique called Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) and also have massage work a couple of times a month.

TRC: As a (mostly) vegetarian athlete, do you ever struggle to meet your nutritional needs? Are you careful about your diet? RK: My partner Christina’s passion for food is another piece of the puzzle in keeping my body and mind fueled and ready to go. Although we choose not to eat meat for personal reasons, we do consume dairy, eggs and occasionally fish. Our diet is generous and well rounded without any restrictions— good, clean, healthy foods. (For more info on how Rob fuels for runs, check out Christina’s food blog at: feedingthefrenzyblog.com.) TRC: After such an extremely successful year of running,

is there anything that really stands out as a highlight for you personally? RK: It’s been rewarding to reap the benefits of being a smarter and more patient runner than I’ve been in the past. It goes back to your question about injury. The retrospect of such a difficult injury and recovery led to a new approach and philosophy of running. I’m no longer a mileage hound and truly believe an extra day of rest is often more beneficial than squeezing in one more workout or long run. Plus year

this year of firsts,

was a trying

Larry (father), Jeff(brother) and Rob (1991)

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out new distances and challenging myself with more competitive races. The athletes, volunteers, and race directors I have met have really welcomed me into this incredible community. I think my experiences over the past year will always hold a special place in my heart. TRC: What does your offseason look like? No running, some running or lots of running? Do you do any cross training? RK: I didn’t lift a finger for three weeks after The North Face Endurance Challenge early in December. It was the end of a long season and I’d begun to feel its toll as this year came to a close. I think taking some time [off] is so important both mentally and physically. I’ll spend a fourth week slowly transitioning back into training with a few easy ski mountaineering (skimo) runs up the mountain. The majority of my training and fitness over the winter will come from skimo with only a few runs a week. Skimo has been great the past few years as it’s allowed me to begin my racing seasons super fit with very little wear and tear on the body. Without a doubt, it’s a big reason why I was able to extend the past year’s season so late. TRC: How much do factors such as prize money, level of competition, destination, race sponsors, etc. influence your decision about what races to do? RK: The past year was such an unexpected adventure that I never really planned for any of the races more than a few months out. Competition

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Larry (father), Jeff(brother) and Rob (1991)

and destination were the biggest factors in my race selection in 2013 and will continue to play the biggest roll in 2014. TRC: You represented Canada at the 2012 World Mountain Running Championships in Italy and were the highest ranked Canadian on the team. Can we expect to see you on other Canadian national teams for international competitions? RK: Wearing the Canadian jersey in Italy was such a highlight for me and I look forward to the opportunity to represent Canada again in the future. Finding the time away from work to travel internationally has been and continues to be a challenge, but something I hope can occur in the next year or two. TRC: What are some of your future race plans? Any Canadian races on your schedule for 2014?

RK: At the moment I have a few races on the calendar: Tarawera 100K in March, Lake Sonoma 50M in April and Western States 100M in June. I don’t think it will work out for 2014, but a couple I have in mind for 2015 include the Squamish 50M, Knee Knacker, Run for the Toad and the Canadian Death Race. TRC: Any plans to move back to Canada?

up there to visit my parents when we can and are looking forward to spending some time exploring more of the Rockies soon.

I’m sure that wherever Rob and Christina decide to settle next, they will be warmly welcomed by runners and non-runners alike. /\/

RK: Flagstaff has been great to us and we’re thankful to have found such a great community to call home. We’ll be here the next few years, but we both yearn for the bigger mountains and British Columbia is at the top of our list. We like to get

Stacey Cleveland is a top ranked trail runner who hails from Penticton, BC. Photo credits: PG. 9 Christina Bauer; PG. 10 (Middle) Larry Krar; PG. 12 Rob Hall


LEGENDS OF CANADIAN ULTRA RUNNING

ANDY JONES A new regular feature from North Vancouver based ultra runner GARY ROBBINS

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We find ourselves at a point in Ultra Running where the “new blood” coming in has no apparent direct connection to the roots of the sport, and thus very little recognition as to who came before them. Given that the birth of 100 mile distance was Gordy Ainsleigh’s now infamous first running of the Western States 100 horse race in 1974, it is of no surprise that on the fortieth anniversary of that historic event we find ourselves in the “modern age” of ultra running. My goals with these interviews is to shed some light on who the Canadian elite ultra distance runners of the past were. To help highlight some of their long standing impressive results, and to explore what got them into ultra running, a then fringe sport, to begin with. At the very top of my list of Canadian legends list was one Andy Jones. No, not the modern day iRunFar contributor, but the Canadian citizen who won North American Ultra Runner of the Year honours in 1990 and 1991. Jones is the only Canadian citizen to win the award multiple times, and along with this year’s winner Rob Krar, just the third Canadian male to take home the prestigious award with Stefan Fekner being the other in 1988. Yet what really grabbed my attention about Jones’s results were that many of his records still stand today, including his Canadian 50 mile record of 4:54:59 and his world record for 100 miles on road at 12:05:43, both set in the early 90s when Color Me Bad, C&C Music Factory, and Paula Adbul were topping the music charts.

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ANDY JONES Age: 52 Born: 11/9/1961 Cheltenham, England Moved to Canada at three years old, official citizenship at 11 Resides: Cincinnati, OH on dual residency

TrailRunning Canada (TRC): Were you a competitive runner from a very young age? Andy Jones (AJ): I was a decent college runner. Most races were too short. My best result was a second in Ontario University outdoor track championships at 10,000m (30:20). I made the Ontario high school championships once for track and once for cross-country. TRC: Your marathon personal record (PR) is pretty stout at 2:17:54. What was your progression like to reach your PR? AJ: My first marathon was the Hamilton Mountain marathon when I was 18 years old and I finished in 2:47. I collapsed at the finish line and scared the heck out of my parents. I was

fine, just a bit dehydrated. I ran another Marathon that summer in about the same time and it was not until I was about 22 that I ran my third, after I graduated from university. It was in Sudbury, Ontario that I ran 2:25. In 1984, I ran in the Canadian Olympic marathon trials in about 2:23. My 2:17:54 was run in Chicago in 1985, which despite many subsequent attempts is still my PR. My >30 PR was 2:32. My >40 PR was 2:45. I have yet to do a marathon since I turned 50. TRC: How then became ultra running?

did you enticed by

AJ: I was living in Wisconsin and was getting a bit burnt out running two to three high level marathons per year and no longer improving. I had done one 50K road

race in a freezing rain storm on the spur of the moment that went well. One of my running friends Roy Pirrung (U.S age group record holder for 24 hour run) talked me into running the Ice Age 50 mile trail race and I won in a course record (CR; 1988) that still stands. After this I was hooked and I became much more interested in ultras than in marathons as I found I could hold very close to my marathon pace for much longer distances. TRC: You won the Ice Age Trail 50 miler in a time of 5 hours 53 minutes in just your second ever ultra, a course record which still stands. How did that race unfold for you? Did you go out at a pace that you hoped you could sustain and then figure it out on the run? Did the race director simply write you off early as someone running recklessly who would inevitably blow up? AJ: It was my second ever ultra and I hadn’t run more than 31 miles before. I started out behind a couple of experienced ultra runners and after about 15 miles I just felt like I was going too slow, so I passed them and started setting my own pace. I had no plans to set the course record and I


faced a bad spot at about 35 miles, but I worked though it and finished well. The race director knew that I was a 2:17 marathoner, but I’m not sure if he expected me to be able finish the full distance. TRC: Did the CR win at Ice Age lead you towards focusing on the ultras and the records you eventually set? Did you target World Record (WR) and Canadian Record attempts from the start, or were they simply a by-product of you racing as hard as you could? AJ: Ice Age certainly gave me some confidence. The first race where I was really thinking about setting records was a 50K a couple of years later in which I did set the Canadian 50K record for the first time. The first WR I attempted was at a 50 mile race in Hamilton, Ontario. I was on pace through 40 miles but struggled a bit the last 10 miles. I was always conscious of what the records were, and ensured that courses were certified and proper timing was setup, which are all mistakes that other (faster) ultra runners had made. There are a number of un-ratified 100 mile performances that are actually faster than my official 100 mile road record of 12:05:43. TRC: What was your training like at your peak? Were you mileage heavy? Did you focus on track and interval work, and were most of your miles on the roads? AJ: I guess heavy training is relative, but I actually never did as much mileage training for ultras as I did at my peak for marathons. Training for marathons there were many

times I averaged 90-100 miles a week for an entire year, with peaks up to 130 miles. When I was running ultras I averaged about 80 miles a week. Those years I was running ultras I was also working full time and doing a fair bit of business travel, whereas I was in graduate school when I ran my highest mileage which left me with more time to train. I have always done lots of interval workouts in my training, mostly on the track. Most of my mileage was in fact on the roads. When running ultras I often ran shorter races as well, all the way down to 1500 meters/mile. Four weeks after Ice Age record I ran a 4:16 mile on the roads. TRC: Fueling is always a question asked of today’s top runners and given that we live in an age of sponsorship and 100 calorie gels that cost dollars apiece, what did the late 80’s and early 90’s, pregel days look like for you? AJ: I actually used one of the earliest gels, which I believe it was called Leppin in about 1990. That and an energy drink called Conquest, which is no longer sold. It was like Gatorade but with an artificial sweetener so you could drink it at higher concentrations. Taking ibuprofen during races was also a common practice. TRC: Were you a sponsored runner? What was the sponsorship scene within ultra running like back then? AJ: I had two sponsorships: Etonic for shoes and the aforementioned energy drink Conquest. The only extras I ever got were some cash payments for making magazine covers, which I think was around $500.

PRs PER DISTANCE 800m – 1:59.6 1500m – 3:59 1 mile – 4:16 3000m – 8:26 5000m - 14:34 5 miles - 23:58 10000m – 30:12 10 miles – 49:32 21.1K – 1:06:12 30K – 1:34:57 Marathon – 2:17:54 50K – 2:53:20 (CR) 60K – 3:29:57 (WR) 40 miles – 3:45:38 (WR) 50 miles – 4:54:59 (CR) 100K – 6:33:57 12 hours – 98 miles 1357 yd (WR roads) 100 miles – 12:05:43 (WR roads) 24 hours – 133.5 miles

CURRENT RECORDS STILL IN PLACE:

Ice Age Trail (50 miles) – 5:53 Strolling Jim (41.2 miles) – 3:59:26

All CR above are still CR. All WR above still WR. The 100 mile time has been surpassed on the track a number of times.

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Some races would cover expenses for travel and I won a bit of prize money, a few hundred dollars a couple of times. It definitely was not about the monetary rewards! I made 10 times as much while running marathons. TRC: Were you involved in any close races or were you running against yourself and the clock most times? AJ: I had very few close races and most were solo efforts. I did however run against Yannos Kouros in my mediocre 24 hour race and I think he beat me by 30 miles. TRC: Did you ever attempt the Western States 100 or any other trail based 100 miler? AJ: No, the longest trail race I ever did was Laurel Highlands 70 miler. I had a good run on a very difficult course and finished second. I never felt like I was cut out for 100 mile trail races.

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TRC: Where was your 100K time of 6 hour 33 minute run? AJ: This is actually a funny story as I believe it was a world record for the largest margin of victory. I called the race director up as this was a 100 mile/50K race and asked him if he would add a 100K. It ran from New Orleans out 50K towards to Baton Rouge and back on the top of the Mississippi levee. The race director rode the entire 100K on his bike to certify it and then road it again to ratify it after I set the North American record, so I was obviously very appreciative. There were only two other entries for the 100K. One guy dropped out and the other finished more than four hours back. Needless to say it was a VERY lonely run and I doubt I saw more than ten people the whole race. There was lots of debate after the race because I wore a pulse rate monitor, one of the very earliest portable models.

Seems very strange today, but the discussion was regarding unfair assistance given by the “new” technology. Thankfully in the end record was ratified. TRC: What about your Canadian 50 mile record and your World 100 mile records? AJ: My 50 mile record was set at a small race in Hamilton, Ontario. Eric Seedhouse who was the Canadian 100K record holder ran as well, but he was sick and had a bad race. My 100 mile record (1997) was set at the U.S. 24 Hour Championships, so a number of good runners were in attendance, but they were all going twice as long as I was, so there was no interest in staying with me. Once again I requested a certified 12 hour watch and a certified 100 mile finish line to make sure there were no problems with the records.

TRC: What was it like to be named Ultra Runner of the Year in 1990 and 1991? Do you recall some of the ultra runners who finished behind you in the voting those years? AJ: Winning those two years was the highlight of my ultra running career. One runner I remember finishing behind me was Tom Johnson (UROY 1994-97). He went on to set North American 100K record, breaking the time I set in New Orleans. TRC: Did you accomplish all you set out to do within the sport? AJ: No, I would have liked to do well at the World 100K Championships, as both years I ran I had poor races. My other disappointment was not running JFK 50 miler or The Comrades Marathon (90km) in South Africa. I should have made an effort to travel to both of these races as I believe I could


TRAIL DOG have won JFK and finished top five at Comrades. TRC: You mention that you have yet to run a marathon in your 50s. Is that on your radar? AJ: I have a chronic left calf injury and very touchy hamstrings. I completed my 100,000th mile last year and believe my warranty expired. I doubt I will run any more marathons. The past 6 months I have taken up time trial bike racing and if I can keep my injuries under control then I will try some duathlons in the spring. I would like to get competitive in both straight time trails and in duathlons among the 50-55 year olds locally. TRC: Do you still follow ultra running at all?

Roxy “Roxster” Robbins, aka Roxy-roo PARENTS: Gary Robbins and Linda Barton-Robbins BORN: December, 2005. Squamish, BC.

AJ: I do still follow the sport, and Dave Riddle (1st in a then CR at JFK 50, 2011) trains at the same track as I do and we talk regularly. The other involvement I have is as corace director for the Stone Steps 50K. This is an event held in Cincinnati with 7080 participants from all over the mid-west every October. It was our 11th annual this year and I encourage anyone looking for a challenging trail race that is well marked and always competitive to sign up for our 12th edition. stonesteps50k.com 

BREED: Husky – Doberman Mix

TRC: Do you think you’ll ever line up at an ultra distance race again?

FAVOURITE THINGS IN THE WORLD: Peanut butter, almonds, carrots, apples, sweet potatoes, chewy stuff. Stuff that squeaks. Snow. Chasing sticks into lakes or rivers or the ocean, and snuggling with Mom and Dad.

AJ: I line up every year at my own 50K, and then I come to my senses, walk back to the shelter and sit right back down. /\/

LEAST FAVOURITE THINGS IN THE WORLD: Riding in the car. Running in the heat. Living with a cat.

NOTABLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Two-time Peterson Ridge Rumble 20 Mile Champion, Dog Division, 2011, 2012, Sisters, OR, USA. I ran fast with my Dad! The first time we ran the race together I didn’t want to go around the stupid finish track so I short cut across the field instead. Everyone else ran in a big pointless circle though? Humans are weird sometimes and the guy on the mic made fun of me for shorting the course, so the following year I saved a little something for the end and we were only 30 seconds behind the guy who won the whole thing! I did a 55km training run onetime but I think ultra running is a bit silly. I kept waiting for my Dad to throw a stick but I guess he was running too fast to find anything worthy of throwing. My cross training used to consist of chasing mountain bikes in the summer and “submarine running” through deep powder ski turns in the winter. FAVOURITE PLACES TO RUN: There’s a park I used to go to with my Mom that smelled amazing, Mom said it was around a zoo, whatever that is (Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, WA, USA). Anywhere with snow. Snow is the best. I really love going back to my hometown trails in Squamish, BC.

SCHEDULE: I’ve retired from racing and only run for fun now. I just turned 8 and ran a lot of mileage with Dad over the years, so I only do shorter runs with Mom or go on hikes with both of them. I like to volunteer at races, and have done so over forty times in my life. I once ran an aid station all by myself! I am also the finish line greeter at Squamish 50 and I take my job there very seriously. Everyone loves a smile and and a hug at the finish of a race. TrailRunningCanada.ca | 17


FERNIE

TRAIL DESTINATIONS

18 | Issue 7: 2014

COME FOR STAY FOR


THE WINTER, THE SUMMER. by Abi Moore

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It’s a well-known and much frequented saying amongst the residents of Fernie BC. For it is, after all, how most of us got here and subsequently never left.

With a world renowned skihill and record breaking snowfall, Fernie attracts crowds from nearby Alberta, the US, Europe and beyond for a taste of fresh faceshots, bottomless powder and the ground hog day excitement of what another snowfall warning might bring tomorrow. In short, Fernie is predominantly known for its winter season. However, there’s a good reason why so many of us have chosen to get buried in the Fernie Abyss, switched our clocks to ‘Fernie Time’ and go for months on end without stepping out of city limits or into high-heel: Summer in the mountains, as well as spring and fall of course. It’s a place with four distinct, outstandingly beautiful and invigorating seasons. Each one rivalling the next with its activities, weather patterns and of yes, sporting endeavours. Next in line to skiing, biking plays a huge role in many Fernie-ites’ lives, so come

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April the most recent seasonal victims of the Fernie Abyss frantically trawl sites, shops and Facebook to trade their once beloved skis for wheels because rumours of Fernie’s extensive trail network spread through the invariably short lift-line. It’s true: The trail network in Fernie is outstanding, with the Fernie Trails Alliance, landowners and locals working together to create some seriously extensive single track for use by a whole host of sports year round. From steep to rolling, twisting to straight up, root strewn to rocky, mountain cresting to river cruising, there is indeed a trail for everyone—a single track trail that is. Move over, biking and toe the line, trail running. Fernie at present has in excess of 300kms of single track, accessible to everyone, which throughout the summer months seemingly grows on a weekly basis. Trails pop up almost overnight as the volunteer


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My personal favourite Facebook running group aptly named The Fanny Pack, whose meeting time of 5:30AM does not quash the ability to simultaneously chat, laugh, and regularly ‘Quick Draw McGraw’ bear spray out of said fanny pack, all whilst running.

Kikomun Kids

trail maintenance crew works like beavers to put in that much-needed connector, a user-friendly access route, an engineering feat of a bridge or create a whole new trail out of nowhere. Such a fantastic choice of trails puts a smile on the face of many a Fernie-ite, no more so than the explorative trail runner of which there are an increasing number each and every year. Such variety also makes for easy training, with many jaunts turning into more of an intrepid explorative adventure, (or a domestic about what trail you’re on or how far this run was meant to be). But being a valley, wherever you head, if you keep on climbing, at some point you’ll look breathlessly down on familiar Fernie in all its small-town glory, from one angle or another. Spot the twisting river, Highway 3 (or the Powder Highway, as it is better known by the winter season aficionados) and downtown Fernie, all nestled comfortably within the Elk

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Valley, its 5,000 residents and its 300kms of trails. On a map, Fernie is relatively easily accessible by car, plane or Greyhound, being forty minutes from the Albertan border, and just slightly longer to the US. And with the epic snow and well-trodden earth, weekend warriors have found their reason to make it worth the trip, for wandering, admiring, playing or racing. Whereas once as a solitary runner, bikers would presume you lost or mad, now there’s a growing chance of seeing a fellow trail runner in amongst the spokes and tires. As a result, Fernie’s race scene has been growing year on year. Whether bringing in an international stage or sprouting a grass roots event, standards are invariably high, whilst still keeping that small-town supportive feel. Fernie’s race calendar is increasingly littered with trail running races of all shapes and sizes, along with running groups for all ages, abilities and goals.

The local Isabella Dicken Primary School operates a running program starting in Grade 2. Running two lunchtimes per week with many parents in tow, kids gain both distance and momentum, collecting awards and checking off marathons as they go. The kids who stick with the program and train on a regular basis get to go to the Kikomun Run, a 5km loop around Surveyors Lake, competing against neighbouring schools in Cranbrook, Jaffrey and Sparwood. Fernie came in top last year and the kids were stoked, setting the stage for many more years of running and miles of trails, for both them and their parents. Meanwhile new to town in 2012, CrossFit Fernie has managed to convert a few self-declared running haters to lovers, entering a team into the well-known and challenging Sinister 7, in nearby Crowsnest Pass crossfitfernie.com

Race wise, the longest standing trail race is the Fernie Half Marathon. Taking place the first weekend in October, it utilizes Fernie’s City Trails, winding racers along the river and parks and would be a perfect ½ marathon for anyone’s new to running bucket list. With one short steep climb near the start, once tackled it is fast and fun all the way to the finish line. With relay and a 10km sprint option too, there’s something for everyone. The hordes of local kids jostling for you to pick their cup at aid stations means a great day out with top prizes and local atmosphere – ferniehalfmarathon.com. From flat to straight up, the Fernie Lost Boys Lungbuster. Taking the access road from Ski Hill Base to Lost Boys Café, entrants’ bike or run 6.9km and 2,100 feet up Fernie Alpine Resort. With records to be broken and out-of-towners taking on locals, it’s a short, fast and furious push to the top where lunch and breathtaking views are served. Early August – skifernie.com. A personal favourite (but I could be more than a little biased as its race director) is Fernie Tears & Gears. A mountain duathlon utilising some of Fernie’s favourite single track, where every year


Tears & Gears, Jakub Sumbera

locals and out of towners toe the line for victory or simply completion. It’s a family fun event where you’re equally as likely to see records broken as you are small children being handed over batons from running Mom to biking Dad, with speed traps, prizes and a Fernie Brewing Company sponsored after party. September 6th 2014, with the T&G: Winter Wheezer Snowshoe and Nordic Ski Duathlon February 8th 2014 – fernietearsandgears.com. If you’re looking for a true Bucket List adventure, bringing you steeps, scrambles and outstanding views on Fernie’s infamous Heiko’s Trail, then Heiko’s Hellish Half (and a bit) is for you. With over 4,000 feet of vertical gain and a

mile of descent, this 25km race will make your jaw drop, whether for the views, grizzlies, never ending trawl up to Mount Fernie Ridge or the knee punishing downhill home stretch. But don’t be perturbed, it’s beautiful and one of a kind. Mid-August – heikoshalf.com. Lastly, Fernie’s most recent addition. The Wild Mountain Fernie Ultra hit town last year. Rumours of its arrival spread like wildfire and as Fernie’s first ever ultra, Fernie locals and out of towners took to the trails, and the bait of 80kms of Fernie single track. Runners travel from Fernie Alpine Resort to Island Lake, Mount Fernie to Hyperventilation, Coal Creek to Ridgemont and back into town where half of town and

a beer garden awaits. With its first year under its belt, a date change to August 30th for 2014 and many racers adding it to their 2014 calendar, this year is set to be a good one – transrockies.com. Of course to most, it’s not all about racing. Some favourite Fernie running moments have been simply running. Trailing my husband around our favourite trails, scaling Polar Peek in the fall, a sort of fond farewell to the greenery and the season that will soon turn white. Running or hiking

Heiko’s Trail with good friends (and bear spray). And even, as much as I hate to admit it, embracing the arrival of winter with a first snowfall running adventure, as if to remind myself that I do like winter. It is, after all the reason so many including myself, came to town. Fernie, BC. Where you come for the winter, stay for the summer. Any takers?

Abi Moore is the new The North Face Trail Ambassador representing British Columbia. Photo credits: PG. 21, 23 Raven Eye Photography; PG. 22 Vanessa Croombe

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TRAIL STORIES

VULTURE BAIT: A RACE DIRECTOR’S PERSPECTIVE by Jennifer-Anne Meneray 4:04 AM and I’d been lying in bed trying to convince myself that if my eyes are closed, I must be asleep which was definitely fiction. The rolodex of to-do lists were spiraling around my brain and along with the vivid memory of the clock at hourly intervals throughout the night. Every nocturnal hour has been accounted for. It’s race day! As a race director, I have two favourite times on race day. Lying in bed waiting for the day to begin is not one of them. Whether the little hand

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of the clock is on the four or not, it was time to get moving. Unlike most with my title, I didn’t actually choose to be a race director. I just didn’t choose not to be one. When everyone else simultaneously took a step back from the position, I remained in the open, as if waiting for the bridal bouquet to hit me on the head. The position quickly absorbed me and several shelving units in my basement.  I genuinely lucked out.  The race that consumed me has a loyal following

of enthusiastic, talented runners and hearty, committed volunteers. They need to be. Race day weather is consistently terrible and the lone hiccup in an otherwise well-executed, colour-coded, labeled, alphabetized, spread sheetdense, race organization plan. If there were a template or system available anywhere that could organize the weather, I’d have found and implemented it by now. Less than ninety minutes and more than a dozen tasks later, I savoured my first coffee at the race pavilion. But for

a few rustling leaves, the morning is silent. The crisp clear sky and full moon of the previous night made way for a blackish-grey plague of overcast and clouds. I naively hoped that perhaps the rain would hold off, if only for the next several hours. Still too early for even the most enthusiastic runner, the pavilion was mine. The cumulative work of another year was represented in rows of race kits, shirts, bibs, finisher medals and the knowledge that hundreds of people at that very moment were traveling


towards the start line of their own race journey. I took a moment to just breathe and then silently rejoice because for the imminent future there was no need to respond to another race email. No more eloquent replies were required for distance changes, injury woes, waitlist movement, criticism of the brand of free coffee we provide, weather predictions, request for super special consideration for the very unique circumstances that only they and sixteen other people this year have asked about, start times, how the race shirt will fit on a fullchested woman, whether their feet will get wet, race kit pick up, requests for transportation, cut-off times, electrolyte beverage preferences, shoe recommendations, how challenging the course is, water crossing depths, appropriate clothing choices, or even just how muddy, is muddy.

more of themselves than will ever be acknowledged. Nervous runners flit around, conferring with others on layering and shoe strategies for the many kilometers worth of adventure ahead, naively still attempting to glean any extra glimmer of race wisdom. Over-confident mid-pack runners sized up their competition whilst boasting of their training schedules and nutrition strategies. Past winners intermingled with rookies. Old friends reconnected. The atmosphere was tangible.

Email responses for the race have viciously sucked hours out of every single day. Sarcastic by nature, responding to emails was both an endurance event and a test of restraint. Should the reply to your email inquiry seem tardy, it is possibly because I’d attempted to formulate an answer that didn’t involve stating the obvious nor poking fun at you.  

Suddenly, the race timer was beside me flashing a small clock. I nodded as though what he showed me makes complete sense, though I had not even grasped that what he showed me was time. The chronological haze continued as microphone in hand, I welcomed people, announced random things of seeming importance, performed charades and attempted to remain humourous and animated enough to keep the mumble of nerves in the room quieter than the sound of my artificially projected voice. The race timer again prompted me with the clock. This time my nod was confident and the understanding was clear. Three minutes to race start.

The pavilion door opened, and like a poorly synchronized amateur flash mob, people poured in. Volunteers checked in, were profusely thanked, plied with caffeine and homemade treats and dispersed to their various locations. Over the course of many hours, they would cheer, shiver, congratulate, and motivate, giving far

There are four doors to exit the race pavilion. Prompted to head to the start line, the runners all lined up to use only one. They were conserving every step and despite the single file wait, this door has been calculated as the shortest tangent. I openly mocked the suppression of their independent, lemminglike thinking and I went

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ahead and wasted those few extra steps to meet them all at the line. Three. Two. One. Go!  In their cleanest, driest, most optimistic and rested state, three hundred runners were sent off. In order to align with the timing clock, after a sauntering commute to the start line, the race officially commenced at 9:01 am. A back of the pack runner curtly demanded to know our exact start time as he lumbers over the line. He greeted my response with profanity and continues running.  I smiled and took another moment to just breathe.  Ambling off to find a fresher replacement for my now stale coffee, I was acutely aware that control of my day had just slipped from my grasp. In the hours that were

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to follow, all of my actions would in fact be reactions to the day’s events. Runners would finish strong. Or not. Rain and temperatures would fall. Winds would blow. Awards would be distributed, celebrated or coveted. The avengement of DNFs would be plotted. Walkie talkies would incessantly chatter. Hot food would be dispensed. Zippers would be unstuck and bibs unpinned for fingers too cold or swollen to independently complete the task. Hugs would be shared as both elation and empathy echo off the walls of the race pavilion. Toilets would be plunged. Funny stories would be shared. Time cut offs would be enforced. Race day finished much as it began, though the rustling of leaves was replaced by the persistent teaming of rain. Years of experience

had volunteers moving in an efficient and sequenced routine. For little more than a thank you and a smile, they disassembled in hours what took twelve months to build. Cold, tired and damp, we exchanged hugs prior to climbing into our respective vehicles. As the parking lot emptied around me, I sat in my car wedged tight with leftover supplies. The simple rhythm of rain hit the windshield and for the final time, I just breathed. As I slowly edged away from the race pavilion, knowing our day went well, really well. Yet my mind was busy…busy already formulating my to-do lists for next year’s race. /\/

The 12th edition of the Vulture Bait Trail Races 25km & 50km will be held at Fanshawe Conservation Area in London, Ontario on Saturday, October 18, 2014. It will likely rain, with a slight possibility of sun, hail, sarcasm and snow. Details can be found at vulturebaitrace.com. Registration opens February 1st, 2014.

Jennifer-Anne Meneray is the race director for Vulture Bait. She runs trails with her dog Bean near her home in London, Ontario.


Lesotho by Ryne Melcher The first edition of the Lesotho Ultra Trail, Africa’s first Ultra SkyMarathon went off November 30th from the beautiful Maliba Mountain Lodge in T’sehalanye National Park. 91 runners from 7 countries took part in the inaugural event created by KZN Trail Running Director, Andrew Booth. The course was 50km around the park ranging in elevation from 2000 meters to 3140 meters. Considered the Alps of Africa, the tiny landlocked nation of Lesotho provides trail runners a haven of challenging and scenic trails to explore. The course consisted of two major climbs. The first loop occurred around the 11km mark climbing over 1000 meters up to the plateau that runners traversed for 10km all over 3000 meters in elevation. The second major climb at the 36km mark gained nearly 800 meters before the final long, arduous descent back towards the finish line. The majority of the runners seemed to find the second shorter climb the most taxing as the sun was out in full force and the temperatures were nearing the day time high of 26 degrees celsius. As with any mountain run Mother Nature holds the trump card when it comes to how the day will roll out. At the 5am start the skies were mildly overcast, but

when the runners hit the plateau section nearly two hours later more clouds had rolled in and stacked up on the ridge reducing visibility to mere meters. Flagging was present every 20 meters, but for the leaders through that section, the thick fog and cloud wouldn’t allow for much visibility. Runners teamed up on that section for the most part making a line and calling out when the next marker was visible. This naturally slowed the pace on the plateau segment. Two of the favorites of the race, AJ Calitz and Iain Don Wauchope of South Africa unfortunately made a few wrong turns on this segment dropping them out of the lead and back to 25th place. As runners descended off the plateau at 29km and onto a 7km descent to the next checkpoint, the clouds became a non-issue and visibility was great again. Medical personnel from the 29km checkpoint relayed down the mountain positions as runners came through. A pack of three men, Andrew Hagen, Diez Raobago (ESP) and Quinton Honey were the clear runaways coming off this section. In the women’s race Robyn Kime and Tracy Zunckel came off the plateau in 4th and 5th overall. Slowly but surely all the front runners made their way to that 29km point and beneath

the clouds with full visibility. And as Mother Nature does, about 75 minutes after the leaders left the plateau, the skies cleared and the mid to back packers were treated to endless jaw dropping views from that 3000 meter ridge.

the final podium position in the women’s race. All runners were treated to fantastic pre and postrace meals from the Maliba Mountain Lodge. The lodge had a severe fire that burnt

The race has the makings of classic with the natural beauty of the park, the diversity in trails, terrain and elevation and most notably, the warm, caring hospitality of the locals and lodge staff. Andrew Hagen opened a gap on the other two runners on the 7km descent and only built on that lead over the final 19km to claim victory in a time of 6 hours 7 minutes and 22 seconds. Diez Raobago and Quinton Honey remained neck and neck for the silver position with the Spaniard prevailing by just over a minute to take 2nd. Tracy Zunckel went to work on the last climb distancing herself from Robyn Kime and broke the tape in 6:56:17 to secure the win. Robyn crossed the line about 10 minutes later for 2nd place and Canada’s Stacie Carrigan crossed in 7:23:36 to snag

down their original dining facility about 3 months ago. However the entire staff of the lodge from the kitchen, to housekeeping, to maintenance rallied and completed the new conference center building in time for the race to host its pre and post run events. The race has the makings of classic with the natural beauty of the park, the diversity in trails, terrain and elevation and most notably, the warm, caring hospitality of the locals and lodge staff. These ingredients made this year’s Lesotho Ultra Trail a memorable and unforgettable event. /\/

Ryne Melcher lives in North Vancouver, BC. He was the team manager for the Team Canada at the World Trail Championships.

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RUN LIKE A

GIRL by Hailey Van Dyk

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Buntzen Lake


Run Like A Girl started just as an idea, a way to connect with other like-minded people who share the same passion for fitness, running and healthy eating as we do. Courtney Burt and Hailey Van Dyk established the community in August of 2012 with a simple Facebook page. We met Dayna Egyed shortly after starting Run Like A Girl through the Mountain Madness race series. We felt an immediate connection and soon we were an inseparable group of three.  Our goal was to inspire others to embrace running, fitness and health as a holistic lifestyle of the body, mind and soul, and achieve a balance through everyday life. As the page grew, so did our dreams. We started by sharing our passion for running with others, but the page quickly grew into a global movement. We currently have well over 30,000 followers and we’ve  connected with people around the world from all over the USA, to New Zealand, to Singapore. Through Run Like A Girl, we’ve established opportunities to raise awareness of many issues plaguing our

world today. When the Boston Marathon bombings happened, we knew we needed to do something to give back to the running community. Through our  website we carried out a fundraiser and were able to raise over $10,000 for the One Fund Boston which gave back to the victims. We were completely floored by the generosity of the running community and decided

Finish line of Squamish 50

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that this would not be our last fundraiser. In October of 2013 we held a virtual and local race to raise money for the Breast Cancer Foundation. We were able to raise over $3000 and had over 50 local racers participate as well as virtual runners from all around the world.

Summit of Kings Throne, Haines Junction, YT.

Celebrating our finish of the Rim 2 Rim in the Grand Canyon.

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Our next goal is Fight Like A Kid, a virtual and local race to help raise money for childhood brain cancer. We truly believe that when a community of like-minded people come together and work towards something, anything is possible. Running is a way to bring people together. Through our passion for running, and this community, we have made many amazing friendships and shared so many amazing adventures. For example, when we raced the Squamish 50, we put together weekly  trail runs on the  North Shore or in Squamish and almost always had a new  face out  joining us. Or when we traveled to the Yukon River Trail Marathon, we were able to connect with a new friend who lived in Whitehorse. Every time we race, or go on a run, we meet new people and

feel immediately connected. We only run trails, which is something totally unthinkable for a lot of the people in our community. Our stories, adventures and pictures have inspired others to get off the road and spend time in nature. Spending time in nature energizes us and there are energies in the trees and on the trail that we all can tap into. We believe if more people spent time on the trail there would be an even bigger movement to be more environmentally conscious. It is pretty hard not to appreciate the serene beauty of nature when you are spending hours every week running through it. We are just regular people, living normal, busy lives with full-time jobs and families, but we make time to include running, fitness and healthy eating simply because we love it. People can relate to us and in turn, they see how they can try to do this for themselves.  We believe this kind of life style can be achieved by everyone. You just have to find balance in your life and commit to something you love. We run to inspire others, to encourage and support. Everyday people tell us how


FInish line of Squamish 50

inspiring we are, but what they might not know is how inspired we are everyday by the people on our page. People send us their questions, their concerns, their struggles, and their achievements. We have seen people grow and make huge transformations. Running has taken us to many places and on so many adventures and given us many friendships. Running is a gift you give

yourself, and then it keeps on giving back to you and never stops. You have to make a commitment to yourself to put the time in to build up that base, and then the  possibilities are endless.  We may not be out there winning  races, but we are crossing finish lines with smiles on our faces and giving out hugs to all the friends we have met along the way. /\/

Photo credits: PG. 28, 29, 31 Adam Cuik; PG. 30 Run Like A Girl

RUN LIKE A GIRL is... Hailey Van Dyk, an ER nurse, lives in Langley, BC and escapes to the mountains as often as possible! She can be found adventuring with her dog Charlie, running, hiking, doing yoga, travelling, mountain biking, road cycling and skiing. Courtney Burt lives in Surrey, BC. She loves to be outside, run, do yoga and draw in her art studio.  Dayna Egyed lives in Surrey, BC. Joined by her dog, Lucy, she’s a trail runner, hiker and road cyclist, and has been a trail leader for Mountain Madness. The rest of the time she spends with her husband of 14 years and her son, who is an amazing skateboarder.

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La Ruta by Jonathan Sinclair and Melissa Gosse

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It was surreal. Surreal not only run alongside the legendary Tarahumara runners, but to spend the week before a race getting to know them and their culture.

They lived up to their shy reputation at first; however, eventually they began to let their personalities show when their game-time faces emerged along with some smiles, some laughs and even some joking around. Whether it was a ritual bonding of tribes that was led by a Costa Rican shaman or a beachfront yoga class the evening before the race, the Tarahumara opened their hearts, put smiles on their faces and gave it their all.

and drank the water at rivers crossings on course. When the trails became dynamic, some found a stick lying around to help them balance through the rough patches. As for race packs, most of the Tarahumara ran empty handed and some simply carried a plastic bag with a water bottle in it.   Every one of them ran their hardest, but not one of them missed the opportunity to share a smile or thumbs up as you passed by.  

In only a week spent with the Tarahumara, I was able to sense just how proud, humble, and friendly these people are. Everything I learned in my first two years of ultra-running was put into a simplistic perspective after getting to know the Tarahumara ways.  No more obsessively planning of what and when I’d eat along the course; no more intricate taper week. I gained a whole fresh new outlook on what kind of “important” gear I needed to carry in my pack.  

Modeled after a world renowned mountain bike race, La Ruta de los Conquistadors, the La Ruta Ultra Marathon ditches the two-wheelers and puts you on the heel-toe express as you run the first and hardest stage of the famous bike race. The welcoming and hospitable race directors, Roman and Florencia Urbina work endlessly to give participants a true taste of Costa Rica. Their vision is to create a multi-cultural event that will attract the planets best endurance runners.  

The Tarahumara ran in their famous huarache sandals. They fueled themselves with pinole brought from Mexico

On race day, I woke up before the crack of dawn. The starting line area was busy; race organizers,

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photographers and competitors everywhere. None of that mattered because I was ready for this. All the early mornings, all the two-a-day workouts, it was time to put it to the test. When the starting gun went off in the small town of Jaco, my partner, Mel and I knew not to chase the heels of the Tarahumara. These legendary athletes have been running ultra distances since they were young and I barely had a year under my belt. I immediately began to feel the wrath of the humidity as every piece of my clothing became drenched within the first hour. Floating along in our huarache sandals made by Xero Shoes, we soaked in the breathtaking views that one would expect in Costa Rica. Shortly into the second leg of the race though Mel lost her appetite and started to fall frantically behind in calorie and water intake. Like a

freight train, she was hit with heavy legs, blurry vision and fainting spells. Mel’s rough patch lasted about 50km and the better portion of the daylight hours. I don’t know what kept her going--her internal drive, not wanting to pull me from a race I was doing well in, or if she was so out of it that all she could do was follow the figure in front of her. Regardless, we pushed forward. From the 52km finish line, we started the big climb up into the clouds high overhead. I finally managed to help Mel out of her low spot with a quote from her favourite Disney movie, The Lion King from the character, Zazu: “Step lively! The sooner we get to the water hole, the sooner we can go home!” The sun began to set as we broke into the clouds and trekked along the beautiful trails towards the mountain summit. Mel couldn’t help

but notice a vulture sitting high in a tree possibly imagining the meal to come as he watched her near dead body trot along. “PURA VIDA!” we heard being shouted as we closed in on the fourth and final aid station. Sitting 70km into the course, it was bittersweet to think we were on the final stretch, but that stretch was 30km long down to the finish.

from the truck “600 meters to go!” He started to honk the horn to alert everyone at the finish line that we were close. Seconds later we heard horns blaring ahead of us as if to say “We hear ya, bring em’ in!” As we crossed the finish line, we were amazed with the crowd that waited to cheer us in. Medals were awarded, hugs were shared and most importantly food was ready for our starving bodies.  

As we started to descend, so did the sun and visibility of the rough sections of the course. Fortunately, the amazing race directors, Erika and Roman decided to follow behind us in their SUV to illuminate the trails. With the cooling temperatures, the SUV chasing our heels, and the kilometers ticking down, I was finally breaking through that never-ending wall. During the humbling 10km climb to the finish, things started to slow again. And not just from the significant incline. After spending the past 50km watching Mel’s intake closely, I realized that I’d let my own nutrition dwindle and now I was feeling empty. Mel repeated The Lion King quote I’d used and we were back on the move.

What places this race above all others is far more than its beautiful and challenging course; it’s the friendly people on motorbike or horseback that wave while passing by, it’s the colourful birds and butterflies floating overhead, and most importantly it’s one of the most heart-warming countries in the world...it’s Costa Rica! A destination race can only be what you make of it. Try the food, interact with the locals, and most importantly while in the paradise land of Costa Rica, live the  PURA VIDA! If I were to describe the message of the Tarahumara in my own words, it would be  set aside the pains, the miles and splits, the weather and terrain, head on out and simply Run Free!/\/

As we broke out of the forest trails and into the small town of El Rodeo, Roman yelled

Jonathan Sinclair is a 25 year old police officer from Edmonton, Alberta, that took up ultra distance running two years ago. Partnering with Melissa Gosse, in life and on the course, she quickly jumped on board after Jon’s first ultra. Their mission now as Ultra Mel and Jon is to use their running to inspire people to break through their own mental and physical barriers. Photo credits: PG. 32-33, PG. 35 (top) Edwardo Reyes. Paniagua; PG. 34 Barry Donaldson PG. 35 (bottom) Jonathan Sinclair/Melissa Gosse

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Tarahumara pre race ceremony


Starting line photo of La Ruta Run 2013

Melissa Gosse and Silvia Castillo Ramirez showing off their Xero Shoes

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BEING AN Ambassador by Kelly Anne Wald Working with Trail Running Canada this past year as the Ontario The North Face Ambassador was a rewarding and memorable experience. It brought me together with new and inspiring runners from all over the province and made for many fun days running trails. When I applied to be an ambassador I was mostly under the impression that it was for professional athletes. But the application didn’t specify that and I’m always one to dive in and take a chance. I wrote about how I started running, why I felt I had fallen in love with

it and what I had planned for the year ahead. I expressed how keen I was to test out some of The North Face gear and that I enjoyed writing, but most importantly how much I was looking forward to connecting with the community. As much as I do spend a good amount of time training alone more specifically so I can achieve my personal running goals and dreams, there is a part of me that needs to run with other people. Running is my hobby and a big part of my life. I’d like to say I’m mature and refined, but the truth is I still feel like nothing more

than a big kid who wants to play with friends outside all day long. Being an ambassador presented opportunities to get out there and run with people that I may not have gotten the chance too otherwise. While I tend to always be seeking out and joining in on any new group run or trail I haven’t done yet, I was excited to see people reaching out to me in return. Given the chance to check out a new trail, I’m up at 4am and on the road. I like hanging out at races and events too, which is also a big part of being an ambassador. Let’s talk about the gear. I’m a gear junky. I’ve always liked The North Face camping gear, so I was eager to test out their running stuff. I’m really impressed with their winter running tights and their Better Than Naked summer gear. The winter tights seem to have a great mix of wind blocker on the front and back with stretchy material on the sides and knees, plus they’re breathable. I found they also fit as a looser fitting tight so an extra layer can be added on the frigid cold days. The Better Than Naked gear

was perfect for the intense humidity we get in Ontario. Its feather light and stays dry. There was a lot of interest in the gear from the community, and it was fun to share my new found favourite gear goodies. To me being an ambassador was about doing more of what I love to do, running, exploring, sharing, writing and having fun. I felt very lucky to have gotten the opportunity. This opportunity also gave me a chance to get to know more about Trail Running Canada (TRC) and the people that make it happen. While I no longer am the Ontario ambassador I look forward to continuing to support TRC through writing running news and gear reviews in 2014. /\/

Kelly Anne Wald is a trail and ultra runner from Barrie, Ontario.

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ACUPUNCTURE AND TRAIL RUNNING

TRAIL RUNNING Rx

by Kim Graham Acupuncture: the final frontier. These are the voyages of traditional Chinese medicine. Its mission: to explore meridians, to seek out new life and new ways of healing, to boldly go where you’ll wish you had gone before. You’ll have to excuse the Star Trek reference, but really, this is how I feel sometimes when explaining traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture to someone for the first time. Why? Because the medicine I practice is often the medicine of last resort. When illness and/or injury persist beyond what is “normal” or “endurable’, that’s when most make their appointments of desperation to finally try acupuncture. After their first appointment, most often ask themselves why they waited so long to do so. Despite the advances and acceptance of TCM in North America, its practices are still poorly or completely misunderstood. Part of this misunderstanding comes from the language used to describe its practices. Words like qi (chee), deficiency, excess, stagnation, wind, damp, cold and heat, when applied to the human body, make little sense to the Western brain. TCM and acupuncture seem like mystical, ancient and

magical practices, and while yes, they have survived over 2500 years, I assure you, we practitioners of this medicine do not consult oracles, or have conversations with the likes of Yoda when formulating treatment plans. TCM practitioners spend years, like their allopathic counterparts, studying anatomy, physiology, internal medicine, differential diagnosis, methods of palpation, pharmacology, microbiology, disease transmission, as well as the TCM components of practice such as acupuncture, herbology, gynecology, dermatology, TCM theory, TCM classics, etcetera. When explaining how acupuncture “works”, I find it helpful to remind people that Chinese medicine’s theories are thousands of years old, hence the language used to describe its practices are more primitive, based on observations that were available at the time, mostly taken from the natural world. By comparison, Western medicine’s present-day theories and practices are hundreds of years old, consequently making the language used to describe them more contemporary and less mysterious. So how does it all work? How do a few little needles

ease pain, heal injury, and strengthen immunity? The answer is simple and complicated depending on the level of dissection. Most simply from the Western perspective, acupuncture works by stimulating the central nervous system to release neurotransmitters and hormones from the brain responsible for easing

pain, boosting immunity, and regulating various other bodily functions like digestion and sleep. Acupuncture is an invaluable tool that can send very clear messages to the body about where it should be focusing its attention. Because our bodies communicate electrically via brain

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impulses, nerve and muscle firing, acupuncture needles act like lightning rods in an electrical storm, whereby impulses can be directed more precisely to areas of damage or in need of repair. Locally, acupuncture increases blood flow, called microcirculation, at needle sites to facilitate healing and flush out areas of “stagnation”, like lactic acid after hard training/racing, waste material from injury, and emotional blockages. Systemically, it has the ability to flip the nervous system from sympatheticsurvival-mode into the parasympathetic-restand-digest-mode, thereby allowing the body to rest and recover more efficiently as it is meant to. Conversely, acupuncture can help to

prevent injury by keeping muscles well-nourished and healthy. It sounds amazing doesn’t it? So why aren’t more people doing it? Well actually, they are. There are more medical doctors, and other health care professionals referring their patients to TCM practitioners for acupuncture than ever before. In fact, the practice of acupuncture has been proven to be so effective that other medical professionals such as physiotherapists, some chiropractors and medical doctors have begun to learn modified forms of it (called functional needling/IMS/ medical acupuncture) for use in their practices. While study hours and styles of needling differ considerably from the TCM method of acupuncture

practice, it speaks volumes about how Western medicine has accepted the benefits of this ancient medicine. Whether you are a weekend warrior or elite level athlete, fear of injury or re-injury can affect your overall confidence and athletic performance. No matter what the mechanism of action, acupuncture on all levels helps the body deal with stress: physically, mentally and emotionally. The bottom line is that Western science agrees with what traditional Chinese medicine has known for

a millennia: Acupuncture is a safe, effective, and indispensable medicine that can help to restore systemic balance, speed healing and strengthen immunity to help you achieve and maintain optimal health. /\/

Kim Graham is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist who has been practising TCM in North Vancouver since 2002. For more information or to book an appointment, call Moveo Sport & Rehabilitation Centre in North Vancouver at 604-984-8731.


REVIEWS

Mountain Hardwear Gear by Kelly Anne Wald 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 on 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.

INTEGRAL PRO LONG SLEEVE 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.

EFFUSION POWER TIGHT 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! /\/

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SPRING/SUMMER T THE NORTH FACE ULTRA TRAIL Low profile, flexible and lightweight trail racer with a wider midfoot to accommodate a fuller foot. PROS: Overall fit and comfort made this shoe a winner during the testing period. Wide toe box and a secure heel cup gave me confidence to speed up when the trail allowed. CONS: The tread on this shoe was only effective on the least aggressive trails. It also had issues with collecting trail debris inside the spaces between when the shoe flexed during foot strike to toe off. WEIGHT: 8.7oz MSRP: $110 thenorthface.com/en_CA/index.html

SALOMON SENSE 3 ULTRA SOFT GROUND Building on the success of the Sense line the Sense 3 Ultra is a fast, secure and lightweight performance trainer which excels when the trail throws its worse at you. PROS: This shoe has all the makings of a great racing flat with the added bonus of traction for when the trail gets steep and twisty. Breathable upper with a sock like fit makes this a must have shoe for the front of pack athletes or anyone looking to shave off a few seconds off their PR. CONS: The extra traction and minimal cushioning gave the shoe a stiff feeling through the midfoot and heel. WEIGHT: 8.6oz MSRP: $160 salomonrunning.com/caus

NEW BALANCE ZEROV2 Does what it says on the tin. A simple and effective trail racer for when traction and efficiency is a must. PROS: Extreme trails were no match for the lug system on these shoes. Even icy roads had difficulty slowing us down. Couple that with a simple and effective upper that is breathable without allowing much in the way of trail debris in you have yourself a perfect example of what a trail racer should be. CONS: The shoe did feel a bit out of place on less aggressive trails due to its large lug system. Would have liked to see a bit more protection for the toe box. WEIGHT: 8.8oz MSRP: $110 newbalance.ca 40 | Issue 7: 2014


TRAIL SHOE REVIEW by Keith Iskiw

HOKA ONE ONE RAPA NUI 2 A good introduction to the maximal footwear trend. The Rapa Nui 2 is not as thick as other styles in the Hoka line but has much of the same benefits. PROS: Very cushioned shoe that felt surprisingly efficient while running at pace. A simple zip tie lacing system was great and I liked the overall fit which was roomy through the forefoot and a secure but comfortable heel cup. CONS: The extra cushioning is still a bit unnerving as it feels as if you could roll your ankle at any minute. Traction on this model is minimal WEIGHT: 10.8oz MSRP: $130 hokaoneone.com

PATAGONIA EVERLONG Lightweight training and racing flat that can transition from road to trail seamlessly. PROS: Lightweight and flexible this shoe provided a smooth and efficient transition for midfoot and forefoot striking, This shoes strength is in it’s ability to move seamlessly from roads to trails. CONS: The upper felt a bit too loose to feel secure on more aggressive trails. Would have liked to see a bit more aggressive tread. WEIGHT: 8.4oz MSRP: $110 patagonia.com/ca/home

DYNAFIT PANTERA GTX All around workhorse of a shoe. Provides protection, stability and cushioning for a impressive ride on all terrains. PROS: Cushioning was excellent in this shoe. Overall protection and traction made this shoe very appealing where trail debris was at its most dangerous CONS: Being the heaviest of the shoes we tested, this made the shoe feel a bit clunky when the pace quickened on the flats. WEIGHT: 11.5oz MSRP: $125 dynafit.com/en

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Book Review: The Summit Seeker by Vanessa Runs by Jennifer-Anne Meneray The world of ultra-running has very few degrees of separation, thus when a copy of The Summit Seeker was placed in my hands I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with Vanessa Rodriguez, known more commonly from her blog as Vanessa Runs [vanessaruns.com]. For those unacquainted – girl, plus boyfriend, plus dog, plus cat - live nomadically in an RV and travel from running adventure to running adventure. If you were watching me as I type this, there is a certain shade of green, envy green, tingeing my complexion. Though, as I crack the spine to Vanessa’s first literary sojourn what greeted me was far from what I expected. Reading The Summit Seeker was like meeting and developing a new running partnership. With each page turn, you glean glimpses into Vanessa’s story; gather understanding of what makes her who she is and her evolution as both a person and an ultra-runner. Divided into three broad parts representing her introduction and development as a runner, The Summit Seeker is written as a series of short commentaries on topics as widely varied as ‘home’, ‘hobbits’, ‘narcissism’ and ‘The Grand Canyon’. Seemingly, disconnected at best, Vanessa gracefully intertwines her thoughts

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through expression of her personal experiences and opinions, interpretations on various books, and tales of iconic ultra-runners. While reading The Summit Seeker, each commentary felt like it was a look further into the author’s personal journey and as though we’d shared a few more miles of trail together. Arguably, where I was left wanting was on her decision and transition to the simple nomadic running lifestyle she has embraced. Or, perhaps more accurately, I was hoping to glean how you convince a cat to live in an RV. Refreshingly different from many of the other ultrarunning books currently on the scene, The Summit Seeker is neither a ‘how to’ guide nor a ‘pat on the back’ memoir. Vanessa provides insight in DFLs [dead eefuhm-err last], the back of the pack runner, excuses, her first 100 miler, the culture and community of ultrarunning. Just like with a new running partner you may find you share a voice or unapologetically disagree with Vanessa’s position on certain topics, though with each, you will be evoked into pondering your own opinion. /\/ The Summit Seeker is available for download on Amazon.


Suunto Ambit2 by Keith Iskiw Since the Ambit first hit the scene a few years ago it has been coveted by outdoor enthusiasts and athletes alike for its ability to provide all the necessary tools that an ultra-distance or mountain athlete could need or desire. Marketed as a wrist-top computer for outdoor adventurers and athletes means this watch needed to provide not just the basic information like time and distance but also heartrate monitoring, elevation, temperate and a battery life that could capture that information over a longer period of time than what was is possible in a fully featured GPS watch. The Ambit2 does all that and so much more. Let’s start with the casing. Not much larger than any other GPS unit in this class, it settles on the wrist comfortably enough. I do think that a more malleable arm band would help with the comfort, but it might not support the weight of the watch if it wasn’t, so this may actually be a design factor. The screen is big enough to read data at a quick glance and with multiple display options it is easy to set the screen to provide the athlete with just the information needed for a particular activity. The larger face does mean it will be exposed a bit more

to scratching but I have yet to have a incident in the few months I have used the unit. The user interfaces that bounces between screens, starts GPS tracking and other such options are intuitive and easy to perform, even while moving. I liked that the buttons were larger and could easily be pressed with gloves, a nice touch for those of us who continue to train in the winter months. The unit has all the usual features of a GPS watch elevation, HR monitoring (w/ optional ANT+ strap) temperature, basic navigation and barometric pressure. I can’t say that I have use for most of these, but it is nice to know that if i did need (and learn to use) these displays, they are available as stock options. A couple of other nice features are the user developed apps section of

their Moveslink software. I liked this especially as it did allow an individual user the freedom to design an app that could be loaded to your watch to display all types of data from the speed you are climbing to how many beers you burned while running. The Movescount software is Suunto’s own online site to upload your data so you can view and analyze all the tracking data you collected during your activity. The only downside to this is that you would need an Internet connection in order to do this. The site does allow the user to download GPX files in order to transfer your data to other sites, like Strava. I would like to see more connectivity between Suunto and Strava but as of this writing there have been no updates in that regard.

In the end the Suunto Ambit2’s ease of use, quick GPS connection, almost infinite customization and Suunto commitment to updating firmware may very well make this the only watch you may ever need. At least until the Ambit3 comes out! /\/ Watch w/HRM Cost: $545 For more information about the Ambit2 and other products please surf over to suunto.com

Keith Iskiw is a trail and ultra runner from Kingston, Ontario. You can follow him at thisultralife.com

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