iRun.ca

iRun because I cannot say no to a second slice of chocolate cakeEmily Shandruk , Vancouver, BC

iRun to stay fit and release those running endorphinsLiliana Plava , Calgary, AB

iRun because I want to qualify for Boston and raise money for charities near and dear to my heartChristine Gracel , Calgary, AB

iRun because it makes me feel good, allows me to spend time with my friends and gives me a feeling of accomplishmentHelen Kolodziejzyk , Calgary, AB

iRun but not enoughMichael Shaw , New Westminister, BC

iRun because I never thought I would be able toGary Morris , Winnipeg, MB

iRun to challenge myself, physically and mentallyKathleen Keenan , Brampton, ON

iRun because people around me inspire mePina Bevilacqua , Caledon, ON

iRun therefore I amDuncan Walsh , Nottingham, UK

iRun because I liveGeorges Schneller , Laval, QC

iRun to be free and enjoy our beautiful countryCheryl Carter , Clearwater , BC

iRun for overall wellbeingTrish McCourt , Halifax, NS

iRun because it makes me a better person, a better wife, a better mother and a better friendNathalie Joncas-Caissie , St-Antoine, NB

iRun because it makes me feel powerfulCarlene Paquette , Carp, ON

iRun because pecan pie, french fries and beer are chasing meTeresa Sterling , Ottawa , ON

iRun because it’s in meMichael Foley , Stittsville, ON

iRun because it reminds me that I am capable of so much more than I have doneJames Sauve , Ottawa, ON

iRun for meKiza Francis , Ottawa,ON

iRun to prove to myself I canLesley McGougan , Brampton, ON

iRun because all the ladies are chasing my sexy runner’s bodyChris Baker , Etobicoke, ON

iRun because I can and I’m gratefulTerry SanCartier , Gatineau, QC

iRun because when I run I feel most aliveMeghan Lynch , Ottawa, ON

iRun to unleash my inner athleteAdelle Densham , Avonmore, ON

iRun because it cleans up my life, because I drink more water, sleep better and eat healthier foodsRobin McIntyre , Ottawa, ON

iRun because of the peace and strength it brings meMichelle Jordan , Ottawa, ON

iRun because I need it to soothe the soul, keep me in shape and for overall wellbeingBeth Neil , Lombardy, ON

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sonsKeith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are freeCassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn’t Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it’s cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly!Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brainMarie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every kmSteph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun and run, and run, and run, and nobody can stop me Andrei Lucaciu , Ontario

iRun because the wall is meant to be broken Jonathan Bird , Ontario

iRun because it has saved my life John Marshall , Alberta

iRun for the challenge to go faster and farther Steven Matejka , Alberta

iRun to my happy place and some days it’s very Doreen May , Alberta

iRun because food tastes better afterwards Patrick Houston , Alberta

iRun because I can’t dance Mario Javier , Ontario

iRun so I don’t say never ever again Linda Klaric , Manitoba

iRun because it makes me whole Denis Ladouceur , Quebec

iRun because it gets my husband out there Tricia LaLonde , Alberta

iRun away from the negative and towards the positive Teri Lepard , Alberta

iRun because running is like breathing to Stephanie McEvoy , Ontario

iRun because I love the solitude Janene Tailleur , British Columbia

iRun for the moment when both feet are off the ground Catherine Anderson , British Columbia

iRun to someday win the race Lindy Dunlop , Yukon

iRun to stay ahead of the weight gainMyra Abstreiter , Alberta

iRun because otherwise I’m grumpy Alexandre Charest , Quebec

iRun because I get foot rubs afterward Kate Howerton , British Columbia

iRun because iLoves my man Beverly Huang , Alberta

iRun because not everyone can Olivia Harvey , New Brunswick

iRun to get to know myself, my strength and my spirit Lisa Groulx , Ontario

iRun whenever I feel the need to escape Iona Hillis , Ontario

iRun because it’s like flying, only lower Glenn Johnson , Ontario

iRun because it makes me feel powerful Sarah Kallaghan , Alberta

iRun because I’ve lost 80 lbs and running has become fun Cheryl Kelly , Ontario

iRun because there is no finish line Claire Kilgour , Ontario

iRun so my daughters know that they can, too Shelley Kirkpatrick , New Brunswick

iRun because it reminds me of how strong I can be Monique Lavoie , Ontario

iRun because it’s a great way to see the world Sherry Mahoney , British Columbia

iRun because my heart tells me to William Martin , Manitoba

iRun to prove to them that iCan Catherine Smith , Manitoba

iRun because it’s fun when it’s done Sue Matte , Ontario

iRun because I am not as clumsy I thought I was Hanna Baer , Quebec

iRun see where my feet will take me todayMegan Dolinskas , New York

iRun for the cool t-shirts! Pina Bevilacqua , Ontario

iRun because I want to be a role model for our six kids Catherine Empey , British Columbia

iRun to inspire my kids to tryGlen Johnston , Nunavut

iRun so I can eat ice cream Sandy Bolan , Ontario

iRun because I want to live to be 100! Colette DeJean , Ontario

iRun for health, i Run for life Pat Cheung , British Columbia

iRun because it gives my day a boost of energy Sara Campbell , Nova Scotia

iRun because it’s better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn’t Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it's better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn't Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sons Keith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn't Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it's cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly! Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brain Marie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every km Steph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun for my heart, so it runs for me! Cathy Brzoza , British Columbia

iRun to inspire my children! Wendy Bowen , Manitoba

iRun because it sure beats the bus Robin Robbins , Alberta

iRun for the challenge and to remember to fully live Pascale Synnott , Québec

iRun to kickstart my day Sharon Strueby , Saskatchewan

iRun for me! Judi Wearing , Saskatchewan

iRun because it's a great stress release Brooke McKenzie , Yukon

iRun because i love to Mirella Petriello , Ontario

iRun because it helps me see things more clearly Jennifer Pitts , Ontario

iRun to eat Maureen Tritscher , Alberta

iRun to correct years of sedentary living! Mike Scott , Ontario

iRun away from the abyss Charlene Thomas , Ontario

iRun all the livelong day Pierre Saint-Laurent , Québec

iRun to challenge my perceived limitations Cassandra Williams , Ontario

iRun to maintain a strong physical and mental state Tammy Rainville , Ontario

iRun so that I can live longer and stronger Derek MacPhail , Ontario

iRun to feel great Kathryn Rachar , Saskatchewan

iRun because I like to be healthy Melanie Oickle , New Brunswick

iRun to eat more, especially sweet potatoe fries Joanna Skomra , Ontario

iRun for the fresh air and adrenalin Charlyn McGregor , Saskatchewan

iRun for the individual pursuit Robert Pelletier , New Brunswick

iRun to satisfy the irresistible urge Tim Nixon , British Columbia

iRun because I love the sense of accomplishment Amber Moase , Nova Scotia

iRun to challenge my mind, body and soul Sonia Mendes , Ontario

iRun because walking is too slow Barry Knapp , Ontario

The Ultimate Destination Race Day Checklist

April 28th, 2016

Packing for a destination race can be tricky. Between the potential weather changes to knowing you’ll have the food you’re used to on race day, keeping it all in one carryon can be a challenge. Whether you’re headed across the country to the BMO Vancouver Marathon or around the world, here’s your checklist that will take you from start to finish no matter where race day takes you.

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Get In Gear

Keep it simple: Running shoes, singlet, sports bra, shorts and socks should all be going into your carryon. While you may want to pack additional items, including your post-race attire, you don’t want to risk losing your gear somewhere along the way. Also, if you know there’s a chance of a little rain, as it can in Vancouver, a large garbage bag folds easily, is lightweight and will keep you warm and dry.

Tech Talk

From start to finish, having your playlist ready to go is key for nearly every runner. Factor in whatever your tunes are playing from is probably also doubling as your camera, which means having it along for a few quick race route photos. Even if you never think you’d stop for a photo op on race day, races including the BMO Vancouver Marathon offer spectacular views you’ll want to take advantage.

Running Essentials

Sure you’re racing but you want to feel comfortable too and you’re hotel bathroom isn’t your usually equipped home one, where you can easily reach for the body glide, band-aids and sunscreen. Have a race day beauty kit with sample sizes (again fits in your carryon) of these items, along with anti-inflammatory crème, and ibuprofen. It’s also a good idea to toss in extra safety pins, and shoelaces.

Post Race Wear

Being comfortable post race is key. No matter what the climate you’re bound to have a bit of a chill once you cross the finish line. Packing a change of clothing, including an extra t-shirt and light sweatshirt will help keep your core warm until your body adjusts. And that garbage bag can also double as post-race rain gear, so toss an extra one in, just in case.

Trail Blazer

April 26th, 2016

Ray Zahab on his life off the streets

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A funny thing occurred to me the other day as I was doing my best to run one of the snow-covered trails by my place and stay upright. Here I am, struggling to run on what’s left of the packed ice as winter melts away to spring when I could be out on the road logging the training hours…but I’m not. It seems these past years I’m rarely on the road, even for my speed work I am on the trails.

I really like trail running. Scratch that—I love trail running. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy road running. I like the races, the Ottawa Marathon, Calgary, Manitoba, they’re awesome—but there’s something about being in the woods, running trails in all seasons and all conditions that draws me in. Maybe its the fact that for me, the training is much more specific. It takes me at least a year to train for one of my running expeditions, and getting used to being on unstable terrain is critical. When I ran across the Gobi desert in 2013, half of it was completely cross-country on a gnarly mix of rocks and sand. Believe it or not, the trails in Gatineau Park where I live (and the training trips to the White Mountains) helped me negotiate that desert, and lots of others.

It’s about more than race times or adventure. At the risk of sounding hokey, I just love the way you feel more connected to nature.

I love the unpredictability of the woods! I’ve seen bears, deer, coyotes, snakes and all sorts amazing wildlife while running in Gatineau Park. I love the early morning runs, right after the kids are off to school, where the forest is extra quiet—almost meditative. The early morning runs when the air just feels so pure and oxygenated. I love the rare evening runs I still head out on late spring, when the sun is setting, and you come home purged of stress, and totally relaxed and renewed.

Spring presents a whole new aspect to trail running. Once the trails are packed, they are like running on a low impact highway through the forest. The exact same trails I run in summer look and feel completely different in spring. It’s like being transported to a whole new world. And then there’s snowshoe running. Insanely difficult and challenging, but insanely fun, too! As a matter of fact I feel way stronger on my runs come spring after snowshoe workouts in the winter.

My daughters, although still very young, have taken to trail running, too. My wife runs ultra marathons, so I guess you could say it’s a family affair. Weekends in the summer are the best for finding our own mini-adventures on the single track, with the kids leading the way, choosing their final destination (usually snack oriented).

How do I get started trail running? That’s the question I get asked most by people who want to come up to Gatineau Park, or anywhere else where a network of trails exist. I get it. I remember my first trail run, being uncertain about what may lurk in the woods. My answer is always the same. Start out with trails that are the most travelled, graduate to more challenging trails over time, and before you know it, you’ll be running in places and terrain you never thought you would. And that’s when you’ll fall in love with trail running, too.

L’Endroit Ou J’Aime Courir

April 26th, 2016

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By: Sarah Bergeron-Larouche

Étudiante en chiropratique à l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières et membre de l’équipe élite Salomon, je suis une amoureuse de la montagne et du «  no man’s land » . J’ai découvert le trail running, il y a bientôt 4 ans, et ce fut le vrai coup de foudre ! En sentier c’est tout simplement naturel : j’ai de l’entrain, de la vivacité ; les pieds se placent instinctivement ; j’ai l’impression de voler ; je rentre dans la zone, c’est presque « animal »!

Tout le monde a sa raison personnelle de courir et les motifs sont aussi variés et uniques qu’il y a de personnes qui courent. Pour moi, une partie de ma motivation vient du sentiment de satisfaction et d’accomplissement, mais principalement de la découverte. En fait, la course en sentier m’amène à des endroits où je n’ai jamais été, autant sur le plan physique que mental. J’ai la chance de courir dans les plus belles trails du Québec et ça me donne envie de découvrir les plus beaux paysages sur terre. Mentalement, le trail m’amène à des endroits uniques, où je me sens vivre le moment présent. En fait, le trail devient mon excuse pour explorer des lieux que je n’ose imaginer et que je ne découvrirais pas autrement qu’à la course.

Les pensées de Bernd Heinrich, biologiste, professeur et écrivain, au sujet des motifs qui nous poussent à courir me semblent logiques et rationnelles: « Pour une raison quelconque, la course semble naturelle. Ça ce rapproche de ce que plusieurs autres animaux font. Lorsque vous regardez des gens prendre le départ d’une course, poursuivant leur rêve, c’est comme s’ils partaient à la chasse à l’antilope. La course est mouvement extrême et significatif parce que le mouvement c’est l’essence même de la vie. Dans le mode de vie moderne, nous ne sommes plus des chasseurs et nous sommes déconnectés de que nous avions auparavant à faire. Pourtant au fond de nous, nous serons toujours des coureurs. »

J’aspire à me mesurer de grandes figures du trail running, mais je désire rester équilibrée. En fait, j’admets que jongler entre les études et l’entraînement est un défi perpétuel. D’autant plus que le doctorat en chiropratique est le programme universitaire le plus lourd au Canada en nombre de cours et de crédits (245 crédits; une moyenne 25 crédits par session). Par ailleurs, j’accumule quelques frustrations car il n’existe par de programme supportant les étudiants-athlètes (même que je suis réprimandée pour des absences suite à des participations aux championnats du monde). Cependant, je suis extrêmement chanceuse car j’ai l’équipe Salomon qui me soutient dans mes aspirations!

Essentiellement, peu importe le niveau de performance, je veux entretenir la passion, la partager avec les autres et la transmettre à la prochaine génération. Le trail running c’est une grande famille, des gens passionnés avec des valeurs qui me rejoignent. Je ne me suis jamais sentie autant chez moi qu’avec une gang de « trail runners ».  Et heureusement, la course est populaire et le trail gagne de nouveaux adeptes à chaque année.

I Eat the Canadian Death Race for Breakfast

April 26th, 2016

Meet Alissa St. Laurent, she works in an accounting office and beat every other racer—including the men—at the most treacherous trail race in Canada

By: Eric Koreen

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Running the Canadian Death Race is an undertaking. The course is 125 kilometres long, but it is not simply a matter of navigating flat city streets or running around a track in excess of 300 times. Befitting the word “death,” completing the race involves dealing with more than 17,000 feet of elevation change, with all of the toll that comes with ascending and descending mountains attached. Depending on whether you are in town or in the mountains, or if it is night or day, it can feel like summer or winter. There have never been any incidents, but sometimes a runner will come across a bear. That would be distracting.

Beyond that, there are time cutoffs along the way. Failure to meet a minimum time standard at any of those points results in not even getting to finish. It is easy to, at once, admire and fear for the sanity of anybody who manages to cross the finish line.

Last summer, Alissa St. Laurent did not only finish the Death Race, but won it. In the 15-year history of the Grande Cache, Alta., event, she is the first woman to do that, needing fewer than 14 hours to dust the field. A week later, the 31-year-old was back training with her pals at the Fast Trax Run and Ski Shop in Edmonton. Having just completed one of the most grueling races in the world, she was not in peak form. The Death Race saps a lot from your legs, and it takes a while to get that bounce back.

Gary Poliquin, who had been running with St. Laurent for more than two years at the time, recalled that they were set to do a run nicknamed the “roller coaster.” You can probably figure out why.

“When we got there, there were a couple of mountain bikers that were there. They kind of looked around and said, ‘OK, we’ll go ahead,’ in their snotty way,” Poliquin remembers. “As soon as they said that I said, ‘Oh no, crap.’ The mountain bikers took off. I knew as soon as they made that comment, Alissa was going to go after them.

“We caught the first cyclist after about five minutes and he was in shock. We caught the second cyclist about five minutes after. He knew she was chasing him. He was going, and finally she just booked it past him. And it was kind of like, ‘la, la, la.’ It was one of those competitive things where it was like, ‘Oh no, he had to make the comment.’”

In a way, the anecdote is counter to who St. Laurent is. She has won her share of races, but is not in it for the victories. With the Death Race win, she became an advocate for the potential of women in endurance races (and in other athletic endeavours), a position she is excited to find herself in. However, she does not run for medals, titles or causes.

St. Laurent, almost comically, considers herself an “average” athlete. She had no high school or college background as a runner; her specialty was trail hiking, something she got used to growing up in around the mountains of southern Alberta. She took up long-distance running in 2011 — “I still remember my first double-digit run. I ran 14 kilometres,” she says with a laugh — but normal marathons did not scratch a relentless itch.

She quickly made the switch to trail ultramarathons. The trail part was a no-brainer: Given where she grew up, she calls mountains and valleys “home.” Poliquin says St. Laurent seems to “regenerate” after she returns from one of her frequent trips to the mountains for training sessions.

Getting used to the extra distance was a bigger hurdle.

“You just can’t fathom that (distance),” St. Laurent says. “I get the same questions: ‘Do you do that all in one day at lunch?’ I felt the exact same way. It was like, ‘I don’t even know how that is physically possible.’ But then you start hitting these milestones. I did a 50k and it didn’t kill me. I was back at it the next day.I

“Slowly you start setting bigger goals and changing what’s normal for you. It added up quickly. I realized that I kind of liked more and more, the bigger, longer distances. It didn’t seem like that much work to be out there for that many hours. It surprised me. It did.”

That it does not seem like much work to her is key to her rapid success. Sandwiching her job at an accountant’s office, St. Laurent wakes up at 6 a.m. each morning for shorter runs. There is always more to do after work, too, with longer runs and cross-training to improve her strength, particularly in her core muscles. St. Laurent calls herself kind of “nerdy” about her strength and mobility work.

“From that consistency,” says Jack Cook, the owner of Fast Trax, “the results always come.”

They certainly have. In addition to winning the Death Race, St. Laurent was the top woman in the 100-mile Sinister 7 in July, and set the women’s course record in the Cascade Crest 100 Mile race later in the year in Oregon. She professes to loving the 100-mile distance, and it is a struggle for her to keep her ambition in check.

“We were a little concerned this past fall. You need a break. The body needs to take a break,” Poliquin says. “It can’t function at high levels (that consistently). It was totally against her will. I think it was bronchitis. Mother Nature said, ‘OK, Alissa, I’m going to kick the snot out of you so you can’t run.’ It was the best thing for her.”

“I definitely have respect for that distance. It does take a lot out of you,” St. Laurent says. “I know I’m limited to how many of those I can fit into my year. I’m trying to gradually work up to it. I’m in it for the long haul. I don’t need to cram everything into one year.”

Since a disappointing performance at the IAU Trail World Championships in France in May, St. Laurent has been focusing on improving her downhill running, deemed to be the difference between her and the leaders in that race. Poliquin now estimates her downhills are as strong as her uphills, a worrisome proposition for her opponents.

She will return to France in August to run a 166-kilometre race at Mont Blanc, the highest point in the Alps. It is where she struggled last year.
“It terrifies me,” St. Laurent says. “I want to do and see things like that — things that scare me.”

This Aint His First Blue Rodeo

April 26th, 2016

Jim Cuddy has been running for almost 40 years and no wonder he loves it—it’s how met his wife.

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Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy is a lot of things: an 11-time Juno award-winner, member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and lifetime runner, who was more interested in the places that his band’s tour would take him then losing himself in the drugs and alcohol one generally associates with a touring rock band. Ben Kaplan caught up with Cuddy before he performs at this summer’s Band on the Run half marathon and learned about his amorous stretching, globe-trotting sneakers and favourite running song of all-time.

iRun: I’m a connoisseur of great running stories, but the one about how you met your wife might take the cake.
Cuddy: I was at Queens in my last year and two days before Reading Week, 1978, I’m on the track stretching and all of the sudden, this woman ran by me with an unbelievably rosy glow.

iRun: A rosy glow?
Cuddy: I waited for her afterwards and she buzzed off quickly, but I found out where she lived and asked her for breakfast. She asked me to her formal and we’ve been together ever since.

iRun: So, who’s faster?
Cuddy: I was very, very moderately into running and she was very into it—she was in the phys ed program. I only ran with her to burn off sexual desire.

iRun: If that’s how you started, how do you stick to it?
Cuddy: It’s the only thing I can do anywhere. I can leave the bus and start running from wherever I am.

iRun: You still running at 60 after all these years?
Cuddy: Yeah, I’ve found the recipe perfectly suited to me: I’m a big proponent of the 5 to 10km run. I run for one CD.

iRun: What CD?
Cuddy: A Hayden record is perfect, really meditative. Sometimes the Beatles or the Stones, Wilco, the Weepies—which is a guilty pleasure and really shiny pop music—it depends what the mood is, but a Hayden record is 55 minutes and that’s a good length for me.

iRun: All-time favourite running song?
Cuddy: Ron Hynes, Godspeed. One of the top ten songs I’ve ever heard.

iRun: Have you ever run an organized race?
Cuddy: I did one half marathon which I enjoyed and remember coming to the point where the half marathoners went north and the marathon went to the beaches and not a single part of me wanted to carry on for the marathon.

iRun: Oh man, the marathon’s where it’s at.
Cuddy: I want my running to always be enjoyable. I don’t ever want it to be a burden and I don’t ever want to get injured. If I had to see people running it would break my heart.

iRun: How does running work in the life of a rock band?
Cuddy: It was when we were first touring, say 1991 and by that time I’m tired of the stuff we do as a band—tired of drinking and I don’t do dope— so I bought some shoes. I was in the southern US and often we’re in nowhereland, way outside the city—and I have zero sense of direction, I’m always lost.

iRun: There you are, somewhere lost in the southern US, in your new shoes.
Cuddy: And that’s how I started: I leave from our hotel wherever I am and get myself seriously lost—I can get lost in the arena from the stage to the dressing room—and for years that would determine the length of my run, just trying to figure out where the hell I am.

iRun: Your shoes have probably seen some things.
Cuddy: I look at my shoes and say, ‘You’ve been across the desert in Sicily and you’ve been in Africa,’ and that’s fantastic to me. The strangeness. I ran around the Taj Mahal.

iRun: That’s a cool approach to running, all the places it can take you.
Cuddy: When I run, I want my head on a swivel. I run everywhere in the world and it’s just, yeah, I love looking around.

Jim Cuddy plays Band on the Run on June 11 in Muskoka and the Harvest Picnic, with the Rheostatics, Jann Arden and the Cowboy Junkies, on August 27.

Krista DuChene: Boom.

April 25th, 2016

KristainMontreal

Boom.

It’s a word that has taken on a whole new meaning for me this past month.

“Boom” has resonated with me since reading Mr. Eriksson’s words in Paul Gains’ CBC sports story, “Canadian marathoners upset with Athletics Canada’s Rio qualification policy”, which was written shortly after the Around the Bay 30 km race where I failed to prove fitness on a cold and windy day with a 1:47. In the story, while addressing the requirement to prove fitness, Mr. Eriksson says, “Boom, off we go. Now you have got to do it.” And “Boom,” yesterday I did it at the Montreal Half Marathon.

While I am glad to check the box in order to fulfill my requirements to be named to the 2016 Olympic team, running a 1:12:30 half marathon in April does not mean I will peak in a marathon in August. I sure hope so and will do everything to make that happen. However for me, running a half marathon at marathon pace 6-8 weeks out, has proven that I am fit, and worked well in my previous builds to peak for my goal marathons. Replicating this pattern was not an option. It was 1:13:00 or try again. And again.

There have been inaccuracies in some of the stories and a lot of opinions with misinformation, and I am not about to address those. Not because I have now proven my fitness, but because I don’t feel it’s necessary to engage. In his article, Mr. Gains did an excellent job in showing that making it to the Olympics is more than just achieving a qualifying standard. Shortly after Paul’s article, Reid Coolsaet followed up with a post on his blog, explaining his situation after also just falling short of the required time to prove fitness, at the World Half Marathon Championships where the men’s race ended in heavy rain and winds. I’ve always looked up to and respected Reid and was again impressed to read his blog with his objective way of showing his frustration with the system. That guy is an experienced marathoner who knows his body, knows his numbers, and knows what it takes to be at his very best.  Reid has run well under the Olympic standard twice in the qualifying period! He settles for nothing less. We’re all trusting that the right decision will be made.

So, back to the “Boom!”

I had three weeks to recover from the Bay and prepare to run another race that would hopefully provide decent, not perfect, but decent racing conditions. Coach Rick did an excellent job of researching my options, which was not easy, and Montreal was the #1 pick. A big part of choosing a race involves the science of determining the best course layout, competition, previous times, weather, and travel logistics. But it can also involve the art of emotion. I know Eric Gillis has chosen to train and race closer to home for this reason. Also a parent, he knows the benefit of staying local and drawing on the positive energy that comes from balancing family and life as an athlete. Not only did Montreal provide another great opportunity for me to race with the incredible Canada Running Series (CRS), but it allowed me to return to the race where I finished with incredible pain and tremendous emotion after fracturing my femur while defending my national title in 2014.  I know some are fatigued by me writing about my broken leg, old age, Christian faith, and life as a mother of three, but it’s who I am. I’ve always wanted to be real and tell my story to encourage and inspire others, some who are reading it for the first time.

So back to choosing Montreal. The plan was that I would travel there, and decide to race if the weather looked decent. If it wasn’t, I would wear my training shoes and run it as a tempo training run. Fortunately, the forecast didn’t change and we had a beautiful day. It was likely about 5C and sunny with a small amount of wind, which is always expected on the Parc Jean-Drapeau course. I felt comfortable and relaxed and just treated it like any other race. I had a great group of men to run with and just started chipping away at 3:26 per km, the target goal pace. Like many races, I was conservative, which worked to my favour; every kilometre felt the same, a good sign of fitness.

There were many thoughts that went through my head during the race: 1. I kept thinking about my son who reminded me that we didn’t get all those travel vaccinations for nothing. 2. Today was the day to do it. 3. The last time I ran this race, I hopped on one leg to finish. It would feel good to fly down the last 500 m today on two healthy legs!

I did it. And as I crossed the line, I couldn’t help but smile. In my interview, just a few seconds after finishing, I thanked the CRS and the people of Montreal and the team at the Montreal General Hospital for their incredible support in 2014.

What next? A bit of well-deserved down time with training and some various video and photo shoots (an iRun cover!), and other extra activities. I will officially start my Rio build in May, which will include running the May 29 Calgary half marathon, which is also the Canadian championships. Onward we go.

Boom.

Credit: Inge Johnson/Canada Running Series

Krista DuChene proves she’s ready for Rio

April 24th, 2016

Krista DuChene knew she had it in her. Today, at Banque Scotia 21K de Montreal, DuChene reaffirmed her readiness to compete at the Rio Olympics. Crossing the finish line at 1:12:30 (gun time) the Brantford, Ontario athlete won the women’s half marathon.

Krista-w-flag-at-BS21KdeMtl13-IMG-20130428-00381

Although 39 year-old mom of three had previously met Olympic qualifying standard in the women’s marathon, Athletics Canada also requires athletes prove their fitness and readiness to compete. While DuChene had previously attempted meet the Athletics Canada standard at both the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington in February and earlier this month Around the Bay 30K in Hamilton, she came up short.

Athletes have until the end of May to maintain their position on the Olympic team, and DuChene’s spot will ultimately depend on the number of females Canada decides to send to compete at the Rio Olympics in August.

In the men’s half marathon, Kip Kangogo claimed the win, crossing the line in 1:06:39.

More Canadians should run the marathon in Canada

April 22nd, 2016
Ottawa Marathon May 24 2015  © Photo by Francois Laplante / Rémi Theriault

Ottawa Marathon
May 24 2015
© Photo by Francois Laplante / Rémi Theriault

The Boston Marathon attracts 26,612 marathon runners. In New York, 49,365 run the marathon. In Chicago, the number of marathon runners is 37,395. At all of these events, which are hard to get into, people come from all over the world to race 42.2 kilometres. These runs are bucket list races and considered among the holy grail of running. I’ve done Boston as has iRun founder Mark Sutcliffe and both of us count it as a highlight of our running careers — even if we both bonked our races and missed our goal time.

It’s an experience. It’s expensive. It’s crowded. It’s great.

There is, however, a disconnect between the participation at these races at the marathon distance and the number of marathon runners we have lining up at home. From Vancouver to Halifax, Ottawa to Calgary, Mississauga to Saskatchewan, our marquee races have difficulty attracting 5,000 marathon runners. We have less people than America, sure. But it still doesn’t make sense. Toronto and Chicago have comparable populations and Ottawa can draw from the GTA and Quebec to its starting line.

Last year, 14,355 people ran the half marathon in Ottawa; 5,814 ran the marathon. Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend kicks off May 26. We need more people joining me on their marathon starting line.

“Canadians tend to run one marathon in this country, then head out of the country for their next one and I don’t think we look at ourselves as a destination,” says John Halverson, race director of the Tamarack Ottawa Marathon. “In Canada, there’s snow on the ground in April and maybe it’s tougher to train, but 1,200 Canadians just ran the Boston Marathon, which is fantastic, but strange when you consider the country’s largest marathons struggles to attract 6,000 runners.”

So what can be done? Of course we lack the population and our events, running or otherwise, don’t have the same kind of oomph as the American bonanzas — the Junos don’t look like the Grammys and the Grey Cup isn’t the Super Bowl. We just don’t have as much stuff, to quote 30 Rock, and unlike Boston during marathon weekend, our cities do not transform. And if you’ve ever been to the LA Marathon or seen San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers, you’ll know what that feels like. It takes money to turn a town into marathon land. And our top races do the best they can (I’ve been to most of them and they’re terrific), but it’s hard without the sponsorship dollars to create an extravaganza — which is what many of these races have become.
For better or worse, extravaganza seems to be what’s attracting people to the marathon.

“Canadian races can certainly achieve the same quality as these American events — we may not see the same size, but the quality can be rivalled. I just think in Canada, as a sport, we haven’t created the heroes or told the stories that inspires generations and communities around the marathon the way they do in the US,” says Charlene Krepiakevich, executive director of the Vancouver Marathon. “Running as a sport is very small in the Canadian sport world and all of us in the running industry need to do a better job at getting our stories heard.”

There are fantastic Canadian running stories. Krista DuChene’s epic tale of finishing a race on a broken leg is beyond impressive, and that she does what she does while raising her three kids is beyond belief. Eric Gillis is an approachable Olympian — when he beat the Olympic cut-off by 1 second in Toronto it was a moment that Hollywood couldn’t produce in a script. Natasha Wodak and Lanni Marchant are not only super fast Canadian runners, but they’re active on social media, friendly at race expos and positive role models. We have Jean-Paul Bedard. Kip Kangogo. Rock ‘n’ Roll Rob Watson. Ed!

If these folks were Americans, they’d be leaving races in limousines.

Krepiakevich now offers steep student discounts at her races and she’s trying to create interest in the sport with the young and also attract people who play sports but haven’t thought about the marathon: soccer players; field hockey athletes. Their internal data says young people like running short distances. But have they tried running the marathon?  If you can do the half, you just need nine more kilometres in practice to be ready for the marathon. It’s hard. Absolutely. But Canadians are universally known to be bad ass. It can absolutely be done.

In the meantime, iRun is linking up with Sportstats and offering programs for many of their races — the Vancouver Marathon, Ottawa Race Weekend, Saskatchewan Marathon, Mississauga, Manitoba and Toronto, to start — to offer half marathoners a marathon training program immediately following their event. When you claim your result on Sportstats, that very screen will take you into a ten week program to get you to the marathon.

You’ve already bought the shoes.

We need more Canadian marathon runners. And we need more Canadians to run the marathon at home. Right now, the Vancouver Marathon is about 100 runners away from reaching their 5,000 runner maximum and selling out their marathon event. I think they can do it, as the event is still two weeks away. The race sponsor is Saucony, and Saucony also wants to see the marathon sell out this year in Vancouver. So one of the next 100 people to sign up for the marathon, will receive a pair of Ride 9s, which are launching at the event.

Let’s get Vancouver to sell out its marathon. And let’s get Ottawa, Manitoba, Toronto and Calgary to do the same. Because it’s awesome to cross something off your bucket list in Manhattan. But it could mean so much more doing it right at home.

Blaze the Trails with Saucony’s Peregrine 6

April 19th, 2016

Along with being a downright edgy looking shoe, find out why the Peregrine 6 set Christa Davidson’s heart aflutter when she took it out of the box.

By: Christa Davidson

Peregrine 6a

The Feel

I first wore this shoe on a snowy road run. The Peregrine is a trail shoe that is promoted as best for trails and grass but I took a shine to it for snowy conditions. I liked it so much in the snow that I wore it to do the Polar Rush obstacle course race at Horseshoe Valley this past winter. The shoe performed well on the loose snow of the turned up trails from the hundreds of runners who passed before me. The Peregrine is light and comfortable but not overly cushiony. Being a trail shoe and not a road shoe, the cushioning comes more form the softer trail surface than it does from the shoe.

The Tech

The Peregrine 6 is a neutral trail shoe featuring Saucony’s EVERUN which is a material that essentially keeps your cushion, cushiony. The upper is a fine netting that is not waterproof but is breathable. Flex film reinforces wear areas of the shoe and the toe has extra reinforcement to help protect against debris. The shoelaces are thick, chunky and flat and stay tied. The pattern on the laces add to the edgy look of the shoe, in my opinion. The outsole is dramatically stunning if you appreciate that kind of thing. It is chunky or lugg-y or boss or bad or whatever hip, street lingo you want to use to describe effective. This outsole digs in and is said not to ‘cake’ up with mud. The offset is 4mm from heel to toe. The weight of the women’s shoe is 8.5 ounces and the men’s is 9.4 ounces. The price tag reads $144.99 and can be found at various shoe retailers.

The Final Kick

Trail running is something I think I will do more of this season. I love a long and winding road, for sure but those roads seem to be getting harder and harder on the joints. We should be diverse in our running portfolios, don’t you think? I will be putting these shoes to work this season on my local trails and if I do make it out to The Northface Endurance Challenge in Collingwood again, this year, the Peregrine 6 will be my shoe of choice.

Chasing the Wind at the BAA 5K

April 17th, 2016

BLOG-HEADERS-ANDREW-CHAK

Saturday morning of the Boston Marathon weekend means a visit to Boston Common for the annual B.A.A. 5K race. Now in its eighth year, the race has established a tradition of world-class competition, running through Boylston Street and a very fast course.

The iconic unicorn-emblazoned medals for the BAA 5K

The iconic unicorn-emblazoned medals for the BAA 5K

This year’s edition greeted runners with windy conditions and 7-8°C temperatures. Boston Common served as both the start and finish and gave the race a local feel despite having 10,000 participants. For Canadian and International runners, bib and shirt pickup occurred on race day at the park so it’s important for us Canucks to arrive a bit earlier.

I was resting up my race legs for marathon Monday so I was running vicariously through my wife, my brother and a friend to get their first-hand accounts of the race. I parked myself at the race start and finish and hung out with Canada Running Series race director, Alan Brookes, as we geeked out on all things running throughout the race.

Seeding Yourself for Success

Self-seeded corrals may require some mental math for us Canadians

Self-seeded corrals may require some mental math for us Canadians

Race start required participants to seed themselves according to their expected pace. Being in America, all the pace groups were marked in miles so you needed to make the conversion ahead of time or be adept at dividing by 1.6 in your head. If you are racing this event with a goal time in mind, make sure to place yourself towards the front of your corral as the race start was crowded and *some* runners didn’t necessarily seed themselves in the way of faster runners behind them.

Flat, Fast and Bolyston

The course is a scenic tour of Boston’s Back Bay area with Victorian brownstone homes serving as the backdrop for the first part of the run along Commonwealth Avenue. The course is flat and fast with the one exception of an out and back through an underpass crossing under Massachusetts Avenue. From there, runners trace the Boston Marathon course with a “right on Hereford Street and left on Boylston Street.” The highlight of the race is the privilege of going through the Boston Marathon finish line where runners get a sense of what it’s like to finish that iconic race.

A Windswept Race

The fastest finishers of the BAA 5K

The fastest finishers of the BAA 5K

The day’s windy conditions prevented any records from being set, but fast times still prevailed with the world-class elites that this race attracts. Dejen Gebremeskel from Ethiopia reclaimed victory adding to his previous wins from 2013 and 2014. Molly Huddle from the United States lay claim to her third consecutive B.A.A. 5K title with a convincing 14-second lead. Our very own, Rachel Hannnah, gave it all that she could with a 16:45 effort to place as the 16th woman overall.

It’s All About the Kitty Litter

Geeking out all things running with Alan Brookes at the start and finish

Geeking out all things running with Alan Brookes at the start and finish

A 5K race is an all-out effort and I was privy to see it “all come out” literally at the end for some runners. Being a seasoned race director, Alan Brookes shared with me the value of having bags of kitty litter at the finish. As runners crossed the finish and would throw up, kitty litter would be an indispensible means of gathering up the remains for scooping away. Now you know.

Celebrating the Finish

Happy finishers with their well-earned medals and race shirts

Happy finishers with their well-earned medals and race shirts

As with any race, it’s always a happy celebration at the end. Runners were smiling ear to ear as they donned their classically styled B.A.A. 5K unicorn medals and wore their well-earned yellow race shirts. Whether you’re a marathon participant looking to earn some schwag for a shake out run or have some cheering friends wanting a way to run during the weekend, the B.A.A. 5K is a great way to enjoy some of the weekend’s running magic.

Ready my own iconic finish,

Andrew

Next issue: April 23, 2016
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