Trail Feature – Campbell Mtn Penticton

I had to search a little for running trails around Penticton but I found some good ones. I was looking for something between the flatter old rail beds, and the extreme downhill mountain biking trails.

Campbell Mountain overlooks Penticton from the east side. I drove just past the compost land fill and found a pullout with 3 other cars. There is a forest service road with a gate leading up the mountain. I started up this road but quickly found the trails that headed in the same direction. Some of the trails were more extreme than others and only a few were runnable in the uphill direction.

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The top of the mountain was 3 km along these trails. I kept the road within a few hundred meters so I wouldn’t get lost. It wouldn’t be that hard to get lost or head in the wrong direction, especially when getting back to the car, unless you can keep an eye on the road.

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Beautiful trails. Very quiet on a weekday morning. There was one other runner and 2 vehicles of bikers. Otherwise it was very quiet.

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I met a coyote but unfortunately otherwise no animals. And the view was rather smoky today (and all week).

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6 km return to the cell towers and back. 200m vertical.

I need more time around here to discover a few more of these trails.

Trail Feature – KVR Penticton

I love exploring new running routes, especially trails. Yesterday while visiting the in-laws, I ran along an old rail bed turned into a trail.

This section was on the west side of the city on the old Kettle Valley Railway running toward Summerland. The rail got ripped out maybe 20 years ago and it is now a favorite trail for locals. It is wide enough to run in groups and remote enough that you rarely meet anyone else. The are definitely cougars, rattlesnakes, cacti, poison ivy and deer in the area. But I didn’t see anything of concern on my run.

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This section had quite loose sand for much of it so it made my calves really work for it.

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Usually you can see the lake, sail boats and beach from this vantage point but this last week has been very smoky from the nearby wild fires.

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There is a lot of rock in the area and I imagine how much work it must have been to cut the rail road through here 150 years ago. I would love to have been one of the chief engineers building a railroad way back when. Hard work but very rewarding, I imagine.

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One of the nice things about this type of trail is that the slope is very predictable. Exactly 2% slope for many kilometres. I ran 11km, so it is easy to figure out my elevation gain.

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The old railway continues on the other side of the valley too. On the other side, the trail is better maintained for bikes. There are trail markers and many more tourists. You can bike for 100’s of kms. The first 30 km have been graveled and are quite pleasant for biking or running, as y pass the many vineyards. The more remote parts aren’t quite as good though.

For the west trail that I went on, you can access the rail trail from near Docs Driving Range and go up the hill about 1 km to the first bridge. The road goes over the trail at this point for easy access.

For the east trail that I have biked on previously, you can access that from near downtown by the marina.

My week here isn’t over yet so you might hear more of my adventures of exploration. Stay tuned.

Trying to Smile for 50 Miles

Well we found the start line easy enough even in the pitch dark. We just had to find all the head lamps lined up listening to the final instructions. There seemed to be lots of nervous energy, me included.

The start of the Ironlegs 50 Miler race was in the rain and it rained for much of the race. It made for some parts to be very miserable but luckily rarely was it a down pour. Despite the weather, there were smiles and joking everywhere, throughout the day. Everyone was in the same boat (or maybe in the same flood).

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We only needed head lamps for the first 5 minutes of the race so many of us just relied on other people’s head lamps for that first bit. It made for a tentative slow start with everyone bunched up but it spread out soon enough. When there are so many hours to go it is not worth getting stressed out what part of the group you are in. Within several kilometres the amount of passing slowed down considerably as we found our place and as our legs woke up to the realization that this was going to be a long day.

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At first we were dodging the puddles until someone chided us that our feet were going to be sopping wet pretty soon any way. What were we doing? We had lots of creeks to cross yet. And yes there were a lot of water crossings and puddles throughout the day. And we soon remembered that getting wet when you are wet already is a lot of fun. And it didn’t take long until we couldn’t get wetter.

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Those of us who had done reconnaissance on the trails at least knew what the views were supposed to look like without the fog and rain. I felt sorry for those who hadn’t seen the area before that day. They missed out on a lot of mountain scenery.

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The hills were relentless. They just kept coming and coming. On average, half the race was 10% uphill and the other half was 10% downhill. That’s 4200m up and 4200m down over 87km. It felt like it would never end. There’s a reason it is called the toughest 50 miler in Canada.

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Well it did end. 13.5 long hours later. I came in 20th overall out of maybe 80 runners. So I am pretty proud of that. I didn’t smile all the way, but it is pretty amazing to be out there and to prove to yourself that you can do this.

Thanks for the amazing volunteering and aid stations in that drizzling rain all day. And my amazing family who came out to a couple aid stations and to steady me after the finish line.

Don’t ask me if I am going to do it again. The pain is still pretty fresh and the couch will be aiding my slow recovery for a while yet.

It’s a Wrap – July

July has been a monstrous month of vertical and distance. And there is good reason I am anxious for this tapering to hit full swing next week. Both because I am exhausted, and because I have chores to catch up on.

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Single-track Trails within City Limits: 20 runs (trails of any sort have obviously been my focus)

Mountain Trails: 7 runs (vertical, vertical, vertical)

City Paved Pathways: 2 runs (speedwork hasn’t been a thing this month)

393 km (I have a few hours left in July, should I make it an even 400?)
Update: I couldn’t help myself so with a couple hours left in July I bumped it up to 402km.

11,000+m Vertical (this may sound like a lot for a month, but they do this in one race for the Hardrock 100)

Longest Run: 50km (I didn’t do any extra chores that day. Utterly exhausted)

Shortest Run: 3.8km (short ones can be a lot of fun too)

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That should mostly wrap up the big running months for the year.

Sideshow Bob – Trail Running in the City

Some of the seldom-travelled trails in the city are definitely worth trying out. I ran these trails on the banks of the Bow River in Bowmont Park in Calgary with my kids last night and thoroughly enjoyed them.

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We saw some beavers, ate lots of saskatoons, heard rustling in the trees (deer and squirrels, I hope), huffed and puffed on the steep uphills, and awed at the river at sunset. We didn’t have to get out to the mountains to experiene the amazingness of creation.

I don’t think I have ever seen the name “Sideshow Bob” on any map or trail head anywhere, but I’ve heard it among the trail runners in the area. Even the mountain bikers like this trail, although seldom is anyone on the trail at all.

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We even got a sunset over the Bow River as we were finishing up.

Snakes, Cacti and Hills – Inspired in the Badlands

I found the Alberta Badlands a truly unique place to run trails and hills and then to watch the sunset. The big sky, the lonely trails, the steep hills, and the ancient feeling of it all.

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And of course the hazards: cacti, rattlesnakes, extreme heat, and risk of getting lost all add to the mystique of it.

We camped for 5 nights at Dinosaur Provincial Park in eastern Alberta. We found lots of places to explore and enjoyed discovering new corners, and the unexpected wildlife: flowers, birds, bugs, deer, snakes, rabbits.

Climbing one of the thousands of hills and watching the sunset was one my favourite memories.

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We did see 3 snakes (2 rattlesnakes) in 5 days which strongly encouraged me to not veer off the main trail at all.

This is definitely a place not to miss on your cross-Canada tour. It is off the highway by 30 minutes but worth spending a night or two.

Lots of inspiring trail running photos on Instagram @trail_runner_guy

And now for a change

We are changing our scenery for a 5 day camping trip which means new running routes. And very different running conditions for me. We are in the Alberta Badlands this weekend. That means very dry, very hot, and no real schedule. So my first run this morning was on the trails through the hoodoos.

I took it slow and easy on my 6k trail run and took a bunch of photos.

I even came across a 1.5m long rattlesnake about 3 meters away. I never grew up with snakes, so after this sighting I stuck to the more well used trails.

I went up and down a few times and got some amazing views.

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It should be a good week.

Napping at the top means there’s a view

My hill repeats on Saturday were perfectly located to allow me a quick nap at the top just before my final descent and then a cold river to jump into to prevent my legs from seizing up.

On my last trip up it was very quiet at the top so I was able to lay down and stare at the clouds and enjoy the quiet and wonder at my stubbornness to do such crazy training. My normal hill repeat location is adjacent to an off leash dog park so laying down is asking for doggy kisses and slobber. This hill was much more remote and I took advantage of it. Too bad it is not closer to home so I can do it more often.

The day was so hot that my water was easily gone before I was done, even though most of the hill is in the trees. But the cold mountain water was very refreshing to jump into and sit for ten minutes.

But after 45 minutes in the car on the way home I was still pretty stiff getting out of the car even with the ice cold river water to soak in.

Not everyone can have these perfect hills in their backyard but I wouldn’t mind one.

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Not every nap location has a view but this one does

Dodging the clouds

Swirling clouds threatening rain didn’t put an end to my run today. I did get wet, very wet. But half an hour out of two and a half when I thought I might have to do stairs indoors isn’t so bad.

I ran hill repeats at Glenbow Ranch provincial park. It is mostly a flat linear park along the river. But the parking is at the top of the valley so you need to go down some steep trails about 50m vertical to the bottom. I used this elevation change for my hill repeats on the various trails.

It actually is a very interesting park. It is only a few years old and best explored on bike due to its extensive length and well groomed trails. It is still part of an active ranch. For example I was passed by two cowboys on horses today. I had to keep ahead of them for a bit on the narrow trail. At least they were not driving any cattle. That would have been awkward on the trail.

The park has a whole bunch of old barns, fences and other signs of the ranching history of the area.

All types of trails for all types of runners – paved, gravel, grass, and dirt (mud today during the rain)

And the views of the Rocky mountains are usually amazing when it is clear enough. It wasn’t quite clear enough today but the valley was still stunning.

Location: several kms east of Cochrane, Alberta, along the Bow River

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Use it or lose it – Paskapoo Slopes

Paskapoo Slopes, also known as COP Eastlands, is several hundred acres of undeveloped land that is surrounded by residential development in Calgary. One way local residents are protesting the rezoning and development of this land is to actually use it as a park instead of letting it sit. Runners and mountain bikers are flocking to this area to maximize use of the land before construction starts up again this summer.

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I have run here a lot in the last few years. It is just out my door and has excellent unimproved trails. There are no official bridges for the many creek crossings, just wooden planks and boards and rocks to mostly keep from getting wet. Rugged.

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To ensure that much of this land is saved for park instead of box stores and suburban development, it must get used.

On Sunday I ran 22km of amazing trails. Lots of hills, lots of trees, lots of viewpoints, very accessible. There are many ways to get the 100m vertical from bottom to top. Perfect for hill repeats or just winding up and down the trails.

Last summer there was a moose living here which I came across one day. It was a heart pounding few minutes until he let us past. But I am not sure he is still here, probably moving on with all the neighboring construction.

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COP Eastlands
COP Eastlands
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