iRun because running is like breathing to Stephanie McEvoy, Ontario

iRun because iLoves my man Beverly Huang, Alberta

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

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

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

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

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

iRun so I donít say never ever again Linda Klaric, Manitoba

iRun because it makes me feel powerful Sarah Kallaghan, Alberta

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

iRun because itís better than almost everything else Nathan Carey, Ontario

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

iRun because I liveGeorges Schneller, Laval, QC

iRun to kickstart my day Sharon Strueby, Saskatchewan

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

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie, Ontario

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

iRun because somebody once told me I couldnít Heidi Abbey-Der, Saskatchewan

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

iRun slowly!Jason Hoffman, Manitoba

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

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

iRun for meKiza Francis, Ottawa,ON

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

iRun to feel great Kathryn Rachar, Saskatchewan

iRun for the fresh air and adrenalin Charlyn McGregor, Saskatchewan

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

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe, British Columbia

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

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

iRun because I canít dance Mario Javier, Ontario

iRun slowly! Jason Hoffman, Manitoba

iRun for me! Judi Wearing, Saskatchewan

iRun because my heart tells me to William Martin, Manitoba

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

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

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

iRun to someday win the race Lindy Dunlop, Yukon

iRun to challenge my perceived limitations Cassandra Williams, Ontario

iRun because otherwise Iím grumpy Alexandre Charest, Quebec

iRun because Iíve lost 80 lbs and running has become fun Cheryl Kelly, Ontario

iRun for the individual pursuit Robert Pelletier, New Brunswick

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

iRun because food tastes better afterwards Patrick Houston, Alberta

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

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

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

iRun to unleash my inner athleteAdelle Densham, Avonmore, ON

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

iRun because i love to Mirella Petriello, Ontario

iRun to satisfy the irresistible urge Tim Nixon, British Columbia

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

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie, Ontario

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

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

iRun to prove to them that iCan Catherine Smith, Manitoba

iRun because it has saved my life John Marshall, Alberta

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

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

iRun because not everyone can Olivia Harvey, New Brunswick

iRun because it makes me whole Denis Ladouceur, Quebec

iRun because walking is too slow Barry Knapp, Ontario

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

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

iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard, Ontario

iRun to my happy place and some days itís very Doreen May, Alberta

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

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

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

iRun so I can eat ice cream Sandy Bolan, Ontario

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

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

iRun to inspire my children! Wendy Bowen, Manitoba

iRun because I love the solitude Janene Tailleur, British Columbia

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew, Ontario

iRun because it sure beats the bus Robin Robbins, Alberta

iRun away from the abyss Charlene Thomas, Ontario

iRun because itís like flying, only lower Glenn Johnson, Ontario

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

iRun therefore I amDuncan Walsh, Nottingham, UK

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew, Ontario

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

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

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

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

iRun to stay ahead of the weight gainMyra Abstreiter, Alberta

iRun because itís fun when itís done Sue Matte, Ontario

iRun because there is no finish line Claire Kilgour, Ontario

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

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

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

iRun to inspire my kids to tryGlen Johnston, Nunavut

iRun to eat Maureen Tritscher, Alberta

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

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe, British Columbia

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

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

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

iRun because itís cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter, Alberta

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

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

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

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

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

iRun all the livelong day Pierre Saint-Laurent, Quťbec

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

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

iRun for overall wellbeingTrish McCourt, Halifax, NS

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

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

iRun because itís a great way to see the world Sherry Mahoney, British Columbia

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

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldnít Peter Cicalo, Ontario

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

iRun because endorphins are freeCassandra Chouinard, Ontario

Cover photo from the current issue of iRun Magazine

Workout Wednesday

My Best Running Race

April 2012

Back to Table of Contents


Get off the road and head for the woods

Running enthusiasts across Canada are trading in boring stretches of punishing pavement for an adrenaline-inducing change of pace and scenery – and a run on the wild side.

There’s something about running through the deep woods and getting your shoes dirty that soothes the soul and feeds the need for adventure. Evidently, it’s a popular sentiment as runners of all levels are taking to trail running in record numbers and coming away from the twists and turns basking in a multitude of all-natural perks.

“Trail runners are looking for something different than the continuous and sometimes monotonous run on the road,” said Kathryn Stanton, National Race Director for 5 Peaks Trail Running Series, Canada's largest trail running series. “They're looking for a new challenge, excitement and adventure. We run over rocks, roots, tree stumps and logs, up ski hills, hiking trails, through mud puddles, snow and so much more.”

The challenging outdoor pursuit is racing ahead in popularity. According to Stanton, 18,000 runners participated in 5 Peaks events last year – that’s a 15% increase in trail running participants over 2010; the previous year saw a significant 11% increase.

The sport of running is growing, period. John Lofranco, head coach at distance running club Montreal Endurance and former president of the Canadian Trail and Mountain Running Association, said that “most of that growth is people who are running for fun and fitness, so they are looking for a new challenge. Trail running provides such a challenge. Being in nature, inexact distances, and a feeling of ruggedness, all contribute as well.”

Racing along the trails includes everyone from recreational runners and regular competitors, to newcomers of all ages who are simply interested in fun events and community spirit rather than hard-core competition.

With one trail race under her runners - make that under her snowshoes - Joan Guatto is hooked on the fun. The 53-year-old mother of two recently completed a 5 km snowshoe race in Collingwood, ON organized by 5 Peaks and is signing up for another run in April.

“The scenery and the excitement of running like wild men and women through the woods are amazing. Distance and time whiz by,” said Guatto, a fair-weather runner from Mississauga, ON.

She especially loves the “runner’s high that comes from conquering tricky terrain, along with the post-race socializing. Count me in for higher and higher, including a trail race next year in the Rockies.”

Expect the sport to continue surging in popularity as participants reap the health benefits of the great outdoors. According to Myles McCutcheon, a Toronto-based trail runner and fitness coach, “trail running is getting them outside, it’s different and allows you to be more in touch with the natural world.”

Experts agree that getting in touch with your wild side and making the transition from road warrior to trail terror is easier than you think.

While trail hazards abound, it’s a very safe sport. “Typically the injury rate is much lower in trail running vs. road running as the trail itself absorbs the impact while in road running it’s your body that has to endure this impact,” said Stanton, a road runner turned trail runner. Wear shoes designed for trail running, practice on trails and varying terrain, and pay attention to your feet to reduce the potential for injury.

Start slow. “Running is completely different when there are roots and rocks and gravel that can slip out from underneath you,” cautioned McCutcheon. “It’s a lot more taxing than running on a road so be cognizant of how you go about it.”

Most importantly, he added, prime up on going downhill. “Learn how to run downhill and what it does to your body – the more training you've got into it, the safer you’ll be.”

While provincial parks and protected areas offer some of Canada’s most scenic trails, there's no need to travel far from home to begin your off-road adventures. “People can get started on local hiking trails and in parks. In Toronto there’s High Park, Montreal has Mont Royal and Vancouver has Stanley Park,” said McCutcheon.

Trails are a great place for a beginner runner to start, added Lofranco. “You can do it without measuring distance, and run by feel, which, while important for all runners, is especially key for beginners because they can avoid unreasonable expectations, comparisons and just get out and enjoy the run. That's what's best about trail running: it allows you to just run.”

Hit the ground running with these favourite trails:


  • Rattlesnake Point (Milton, ON) “Technical - lots of roots and rocks make it challenging.” - Myles McCutcheon, fitness coach
  • Mount Royal (Montreal, QC) “I know every turn and hill, so I can turn the mind off a little and just fly.” - John Lofranco, Montreal Endurance founder
  • Blackcomb Mountain (Whistler, BC) “Stunning scenery, breath taking views and varying terrain that starts at 6,000 feet above sea level and gives me goose bumps every time I run there.” - Kathryn Stanton, race director of 5 Peaks Trail Running Series
  • Butter Trail (Tatamagouche, NS) “Part of the trail runs along the beautiful river front – it's very peaceful.” - Jen Langille, Butter Trail Run co-founder
  • Brookvale Provincial Ski Park (Brookvale, PE) “Favourite trail is the Brookvale because it's my home trail. People think it's going to be flat because it's in PEI but they're in for quite a surprise.” - Shawn McCardle, Brookvale Ultra founder
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