XC Race … in the fro-sty air

Lots of beautiful snow, frost, and sunny skies during the cross country race today.

I had to go back on the trail after the race for the photos so I didn’t get any runners unfortunately.

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7.5 km of single track makes for a great race.

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On this trail there was not very many passing zones so if you get stuck at the back during the race start it’s a tough slog to work your way to the front. I didn’t succeed in getting back to the front. I should have pushed harder in the first few hundred meters. I could have gained probably 20 finish places at least.

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Footprints from 100 runners.

You know you haven’t tried hard enough if you don’t at least nearly wipeout. I landed on my butt 3x during this 40 minute race.

Treacherous cross country can be a blast.

Elbow Valley Trail – Places to run

Today I ran with an avid group of trail runners in the foothills between Calgary and the Rockies. There sure are some amazing trails, even in winter conditions.

There was uneven hard packed snow the whole way which made the trail very difficult. Cleats were absolutely necessary today. My ankles will be sore for a few days.

But the views were amazing.

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Mostly single track with a little double track (5 minutes max). Only two bikes, three horses, 8 hikers and no other runners – for 3.5 hours! You don’t get that kind of loneliness on a lot of trails.

Fresh bear tracks only once although it was right beside a fresh kill. We definitely keep the adrenaline flowing on these runs.

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Bragg Creek is 20 minutes west of Calgary. Go another 15 minutes along highway 66.

We ran Elbow Valley Trail starting at Station Flats and turning around at Prairie Mountain.

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It was a great way to start off a Saturday.

21 km – 700m vertical (ie lots of hills!)

Run streak day 15. 26 to go.

Weekend Trail Run

Weekends are made for getting outside. And weekends are made for getting in those amazing runs. Top it off by doing it on trails and even better with a friend.

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We did a short trail run this afternoon in the glorious sunshine which included some out of control epic downhill. The run was made much more memorable by adding ice and a tiny bit of “what have I got myself into? ”

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Happy trails.

#optoutside
Run Streak Day 9

That Looks Like Fun!

It not only looks like it was fun, it was fun!

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When we say cross-country, we mean serious cross-country. None of this groomed, cut grass on level ground. No, we mean mud, ice, and even blood sometimes.

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8 km through thick and thin with 100 other runners with the only prize being a high five from my family if I’m lucky. These races are my hill / speed work through the winter.

No pressure, no schedule, no training regime. Just give’r!

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I wiped out twice in this race, and had blood streaming down my legs. Once right in front of the camera. I looked up at the wrong time trying to smile for the camera and twisted my knees, slamming into the mud at the bottom of the hill. But it couldn’t have been that bad since I still finished with a smile.

This race was a month ago, so the mud is long gone. It has been replaced with ice and snow. I’m sure our footprints are set in the icy mud now for the winter.

Calgary Road Runners – Winter Cross Country Race Series. It’s a blast.

More craziness and photos here and here.

General info about the Grand Prix Series here.

Next up: Silver Springs – Dec 12

 

 

That was a cold one!

If there ever was a day when I wished for ski goggles on my run, this was definitely one of them.

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There have been many other days for sure but they were in winters past. This winter hit pretty hard today. And it caught me by surprise. Once I stepped outside I quickly realized I needed more layers, even though I already was quite bundled up.

I probably woke up the household with all my comings and going this morning trying to get the right layers but mostly they have gotten used to my early mornings.

This won’t be the only cold day this winter but the first ones are always especially brutal.

Run streak day #4

Flying down the hills

We had a blast a few days ago flying down a mountain. It was a long slog to the top, maybe three quarters of an hour, but the return trip down the single track was fantastic.

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Most of trail was snow covered and icy in some spots. There were shoe sized rocks to dodge. The very solid looking trees right off the trail made sure we didn’t stray off the trail. This was especially crucial at the sharp corners. And to top it off we hadn’t brought any spikes with us so it was even more treacherous than it should have been.

I can’t quite remember the quote from my 14 year old as we were hurtling down the mountain, but between all the heavy breathing it was something to do with the snow, ice, and rocks making this so much fun, especially at high speed. And she made sure she wasn’t always following. She wanted some of the best of the fun too by being up front.

Despite all the sliding and racing at break neck speed, we didn’t wipe out and maybe that is why we are remembering the run so fondly. To top it off the sun was shining on a weekday afternoon where neither of us had to be at work or school. Couldn’t ask for more.

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That’s one run we will have to do again.

9.5km, 1hr 10 m
Snagmore trail starting near Allan Bill just west of Bragg Creek in Kananaskis.

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Edworthy Park Trails – Places to Run

The paved pathways at Edworthy Park in Calgary are is a go-to for most all running groups in the area. But there is so much more than just paved pathways. But it seems few people are discovering the gems found right in the city.

There is a whole bunch of single track too. You just need to step of the pavement and head several meters closer to the river and you will find some great trails. They aren’t as long as you might want want wilderness running, and there are no hills on the north side of the river. But they are much quieter than the alternative hard surface. This morning I found almost no runners and I couldn’t hear the nearby road. And if you go to the south side of the river the trails are more than you’d expect. Lots to explore.

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My run this morning was the 10km loop between the two pedestrian bridges plus the 4 km run to get to and from the park. I ran counter clockwise which obviously was against the flow of most other runners. Either way works for me.

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There seems to have been construction at least somewhere on this loop for the last 8 years I have been running it. Between upgrades, park renovations, and river flooding, there is always something to work on, it seems. But the city prioritizes the pathway for commuters leaving it mostly open most of the time.

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These trails are some of my most run trails because of how easy it is to get there from home, and how nice it is to run along a river.

Between the freeway and the tracks

We have this linear trail along the irrigation canal that obviously is very long and flat. So it is ideal for those long runs.

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West side of irrigation canal

However it parallels the freeway and the railroad tracks through the industrial park. So the setting is not ideal. You really have to zone out to enjoy yourself.

Today on my way out I followed the paved pathway on the west side getting annoyed at how loud the freeway noise was. I noticed the single track along the east side and thought I would try to come back on that side.

When I returned along the other side the noise seemed to just disappear. It was probably that I was just lost in my own world on the windy trail.

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Crossing tracks which lead to downtown

There were very few access points. It was basically 9 km between proper access points where you didn’t have to jump a fence or go through some industrial parking lot. I started at the Bow Waters Canoe Club and turned around at the Glenmore Inn.

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East side of irrigation canal

A couple of the freeway underpasses were a little sketchy with loud traffic above me.

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Another thing that would improve the view was if the irrigation canal was actually full. There was construction happening downstream so it was mostly empty with some ducks playing in the puddles and mud.

I don’t think I would recommend this as a great place to run. There were bikes on the trail and for them it probably wasn’t too far between access points.

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So my run was 18 km with almost no vertical. About 3/4 was on pavement and the last 1/4 was beautiful single track on the lonely side of the canal.

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Starting at the canoe club going south towards the Glenmore Inn

It was my longest run in a while and I felt good about it. My knees are complaining now but they will get over it.

I had promised myself a slurpee after the run (for motivation) but I decided to skip that. I shouldn’t reneg on my promises or I will start to doubt those promises and the motivation won’t work so well next time.

Fish Creek Park – places to run

One of the classic linear parks around here follows a creek for the entire width of the city. I would guess the park is maybe 20 km long by 1 km wide.

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One of the access points to Fish Creek Park is at Votiers Flats near the center of the park. From here you can go either west or east. I chose West. Maybe next time I will go East. It should be quite similar.

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You can follow the paved pathway along the entire length but I chose to follow the lesser trails mostly right along the waters edge and deeper in the trees.

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Corduroy trails in a couple spots

Most of the trails are bike friendly so I had to keep paying attention. I ran into the same biker three times over about half an hour. Each time he was obviously trying to work up some adrenaline by going very fast on narrow trails. Keep your head up!

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Some friendly spectators

The water was hardly moving since we have barely had rain this month (or last month).

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These photos are from last weekend and as you can see winter hadn’t shown it’s face much. But as I write this a week later, snow has blanketed our city of Calgary and the temperature has dropped to well below freezing. So that run may have been my last snow free run in a while.

My run was about 13 km. I was able to run mostly on one side of the creek going west and the other on the return. And I was able to stay off the pavement for the most part.

Weasel Head Flats – places to run

During most months of the summer this park is swarming with mosquitos which ensures you don’t take walk breaks. The bugs are relentless.

Weasel head flats is an nature preserve in a wetlands area in SW Calgary. Today as the last day of October, it was threatening rain but definitely no bugs and almost no mud.

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Sometimes the trails can be very muddy. Today they were a little wet in a few places but my shoes didn’t even get muddy.

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One reason this area was very quiet was because of construction. It actually was a long detour (couple kms) to get to the parking lot, so the parking lot was mostly empty. Construction lasts all winter so this might be a nice quiet place to run until then.

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From the parking lot there is about 1km of paved pathway to get to the trail head. The trail goes down to the river edge maybe 30m vertical on steep trail. After that it is mostly dead flat on gravel and dirt trails.

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I zigzagged through this park and made it a 10 km route but it was tough not to double back to get in the mileage. It really isn’t that big a place on the east side of the river.

The trails can get pretty small, to the point that it is impossible to run with all the branches in your face. The trails right along the river are meant for walking slowly due to the numerous zigzags. So the best trails are the straightest ones, and the ones with the least amount of gravel. I like to stay on the non-improved trails as much as possible, but it wasn’t always possible in this park.

Great trail system for a quiet run right in the city, as long as it is a bug free season.

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