Monday, November 26, 2012

The November Blues

I'm trying real hard to pretend I am not missing running and looking forward to winter activities. It's not really working too well though. Although with a knee issue that keeps pestering me, I am trying my favorite winter distractions to keep me busy. I was able to squeeze in a really fun mountain run out of Idyllwild, California last week that takes you to the top of Mount San Jacinto which is just under 11,000'. I forgot to account for weather at that elevation, so I was forced to move along steadily so I didn't freeze in the sub zero temps. It was funny to get all those looks from the "well" outfitted hikers as I ran past in my shorts and running shoes. I mean who wouldn't think to be out in shorts in sunny southern California as it was only a 2 hour drive from San Diego or L.A.! The out and back from the Idyllwild side of the mountain is only 25km and only maybe 5,500' of climbing, but I'd love to go back and do it from the Palm Springs side where it is a famous route known as the "Cactus to Clouds" as it starts at 200' which supposedly makes it one awesome day with a 10,600' ascent- ouch....

Ski touring was also better than expected this weekend with some fine early season coverage. I also opened up the Skate ski season as the Biathlon range in Rossland was good to go. So for the next 2-3 months I'll just play in the snow as a combo of ski touring and skate skiing will keep me plenty fit for running season, which I hope to start end of January- that is if my leg issues resolve themselves as I can't even think about a season without running...That said; if anyone knows a great sports physio- please let me know...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Kaslo Sufferfest

This past weekend was the Kaslo Sufferfest. An amazing 3 day weekend filled with something like nine different running and Mt. biking races. I was hoping to end off the season with the 50km trail run, but my knee is still not 100% so I opted for the 100km Mt. bike race. I figured since I've already ran a 84km race, biking 100km has to be pretty much for that theory!...Although I'd only ridden 5 times this year, I figured being in good trail running shape, it would get me through the day- and after all I was a decent Mt. bike racer 5 years ago when I decided to give it up...We started out in New Denver at 7am sharp and immediately begun the first 5,000' climb of the day. It only took me 30 seconds to realize I was not going to hang with the riders I wanted too, so I had to just fall into my own pace and forget about everyone else. The first big loop took us all the way back to New Denver and I remember thinking "now I have to do the biggest climb of the day all the way to Kaslo? yikes". We used to do this ride as a training day every year, so I was quite familiar for what I was in for. After riding the first half of the race with a small group of riders, I had to let them go as I needed to fall into my own pace and begin to suffer on my own. The next climb is almost 6,000' up and over Rico Pass. The hard thing about this climb, other than being relentless, is you don't know you are at the top of the climb until you are about 20 meteres from the top- so it feels like it just goes on and on without any sort of adrenalin boost. I actually stopped at one point to eat my 3 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to cheer me up as I  I was slowing down to a crawl. As I got going again I realized I was only 45 seconds from the top of the pass. Pumped now for the descent, I glided no more than 50 feet before I heard that all too familiar noise of my rear hub grinding! Without going into a long story, I've been riding with Mavic wheels for 10 years. Everything about them are awesome except the absolutely shitty seals on the rear hubs. Mavic's lame answer to this issue is you must maintenance them regularly- Huh forget other hub requires the same pain in the ass issue. So being an expert on dealing with this problem while in the middle of a race, all you need to do is sit and peddle all the time- no gliding or the chain comes whipping off...It's not easy peddling on huge fast descents as you are focused on speed and not crashing. I actually started thinking about more climbing as it would solve the hub issue...Once you get down to Retallack, at least the riding got a little easier, but still somewhat frustrating with my chain flying off. I happily got to kaslo and the finish line in around 8hrs35min really happy to finish better than mid pack with essentially no training. Bill Harbord also put on a mighty brave show and Suffered happily- coming in just under the cut off of 11hrs- Proud of you Bill!...It was great to re-connect with my former riding self as I've been so focused on running. I wish I had the health to do both, that would be the perfect world! It's actually been great that even with a sore knee and being off of running for a month that I've happily filled that huge void with some epic fall mountain biking with rides in Revelstoke, the Kaslo Sufferfest and a season ending ride next week of the 235km Kokopelli Trail from Grand Junction Colorado to Moab.
A huge thanks to Janis and the town of kaslo for putting on this amazing event- everyone should make an effort to get there next year!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sapphire Lakes

Climbing the final boulder fields before Sapphire Lakes

Sapphire lakes

Yes I Love the Alpine!
What an amazing fall in the Kootenay's. If I could live in the alpine at this time of the year in a little shack, I'd gladly grasp the opportunity. When I ran past Sapphire Lakes in Kokanee Glacier Park last weekend, I dreamed of how amazing it would be to have a place right there for a couple of months and be able to explore the terrain every day. Maybe next September I'll plop a tent down for a week!  I got to enjoy an amazing day with Lex and Greg as we ran up from 6 Mile Lakes Rd to Sapphire lakes, down to Kaslo Lake and out to Gibson Lake. The 10km climb out of 6 Mile, although gaining 4,000', was maybe 50% runnable. The trail was slightly over grown and could use a good weed whacking, but fun none-the-less. Half way into the run my runners knee flared up, a post race aggravation from the Whistler 50 miler, and I had to pop 2 extra strength pain killers. I never take pills so the effects were quite euphoric...That said; I think I enjoy the endorphin high much better :)...You can see by the photo above that my pain is all gone!
The run was 4 hours one way and worth the effort, but it would be nice if it was brushed out next time.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Me and my dog Maggie

Each Sunday morning I used to run with Maggie my big yellow Labrador retriever up to Cleveland Dam along the canyon beside the Capilano River. Here’s the April 10th 2001 version, the last time I ran with Maggie.

I awoke to hear the rain pelting on the side of the house. Quietly I rolled out of bed and slipped on my running gear trying not to wake Virginia. Walking past the kitchen I saw my daughter Jordan sitting at the table. She’s home for a few days from school in Montreal. If I’m lucky she runs with me but today she looks out the window and shakes her head no. Maggie and I headed out the back door and started with an easy pace through the quiet tree lined West Vancouver streets. My glasses soon fogged up so I took them off and carried them in my hand. We ran past poet Pauline Johnson’s Klee Wyck to follow the Capilano Pacific trail up the west side of the canyon. The trail here is fairly straight with the occasional turn and now and then you can see the precipitous cliffs looking down to the river where storms and slides have shaped the canyon sides.

We turn east behind the Capilano Suspension bridge fence still on the west side of the river. The trail is narrow here and exposed rocks and slick roots threaten my footing. Maggie takes off up the trail to one of the many streams and lies on her belly with the water sliding over her thick yellow coat, her nose cocked up like a snorkel. When I pass she jumps up snorting and shaking, crashing through the bush.

By this time I have been running for about 20 minutes. The rain is falling very hard. Everything is soaked. The streamlets alongside the trail are full to bursting. I can hear the raging river in the gorge below. This is my favourite time to run, no one is around and the rain has blocked the city sounds. fir, hemlock and pines tower over me and salal and ferns blanket the forest floor. Maggie urges me on and we pick up the pace.

When I was about seven years old my father hiked with me and my brothers here. We had been living in a hotel in Duncan for six weeks as he had been recalled to active duties during the Cuban missile crisis. We hadn’t seen him during this time and were happy and relieved to have him home. In those days the trails were not maintained and we bushwhacked around large washouts and dangerous places where the trail had collapsed hundreds of feet to the river below. It was exciting but we were unafraid, we felt safe with Dad. I have run this trail hundreds of times since then and each time I feel the same sense of danger and each time I think about that hike with my brothers and my father and the war that almost was.

We have reached the place where the Cap Pacific trail meets with Shinglebolt rising up from the river but we carry on straight up the mountain towards the dam. We have climbed almost a thousand feet and a heavy mist hangs in the forest. The last 250 meters of the trail to the dam are the steepest and Maggie and I push hard. My heart is pounding. Rain is streaming down my face. I am still holding my glasses in my left hand.

At the dam the mountains that surround the reservoir are hidden, the mist holds on the verge of the shore. It’s hard to see where the water starts and ends. On our last two weekend runs a movie company has been shooting a feature film here but today its just Maggie and I.

We continue east over the top of the dam to the east side of the canyon. Here’s the reward for the uphill. We sprint down the gravel service road towards the hatchery. We are mindless of the uneven surface reaching out to twist an unsuspecting ankle. There is only the joy of running now. The rain feels good and we pick up the pace once again. I am tired but I can feel the stress of the week draining from my pores

Just past the fish hatchery we run into three German tourists. Each of them speaks perfect English and each is dressed perfectly for the weather and each carries a camera. They politely ask for directions then send us on our way with a smile and a wave. We carry on past cable pool where the fly fishers congregate. Its here in the steep canyon sides that the odd fisher slips into the river. Many times we have seen the fire fighters gather at the rivers mouth waiting for it to release the rubber clad body to them.

We pass pipeline bridge, this is our outlet back over to the west side of the river to Shinglebolt trail for a shorter run but not today, we carry on straight and scramble up a steep section over rocks, boulders and roots. Maggie’s coat is steaming now and her breath shoots out steam like a locomotive.

There is more old growth forest here, the trail is covered in ancient cedar duff and our steps are muffled. Cool mist hovers in the branches above. The river below boils and eddies. It feels very old here. In the summer I often swim across a cold deep crystal clear pool to get home but today the rivers too high and dangerous.

At the end of the trail I pop out on the road to the hatchery. Still descending I run down Capilano Drive to the highway overpass then follow side streets back home.

Virginia meets us at the back door with a towel for the dog and a demand that I strip naked before I streak to the shower.

Maggie and I have done this run so many times I have lost count but each time I finish I feel good about myself. For me this is the joy of sport, just feeling good about your self and if you have a companion like Maggie it makes it doubly good.

Not long after this run I lost my running companion. Virginia came home one day to find her lying on the floor paralyzed, that evening she fell asleep for the final time. 

Bill Harbord

Monday, September 10, 2012

Svoboda Trail Race Results / Report

We had an amazing September morning for our fall trail running race. It was great to see a lot of familiar faces out to enjoy some of the local trails, especially the new awesome section of trail which will make a great added addition to the running loops in the Svoboda Rd area. The course was challenging with 2'000 of climbing over the 13km loop, but everyone seamed to love it. It was great to see some high school kids kicking but out there too, especially Linnea Sharelove who is only 14 yrs old! Thanks to all who came out and helped support the trail builders, as we'd be relinquished to running roads if it wasn't for their hard work. Hope to see some of you at the Kaslo Suffer Fest in 3 weeks!
Thanks again to Lisa and Bill for helping out and to Gericks and Snowpack for the great prizes.


Scott Jolly         1:23:58
Cail Spencer      1:26:56
Levi Smith        1:27:34
Jon Fancis         1:28:30
Sandy Boyd      1:29:45
Sasha Kabalis    1:30:19
Leanne Douglas 1:30:40

349 ?                   1:31:04
Scott Spencer     1:34:17
Jaime Frederick 1:34:44
Richard Klein     1:41:35
Nicola Everton   1:41:35
Greg Smith         1:46:00
Chris Stoich        1:46:20
Andy Daley        1:50:53
Graeme Marshall 1:50:53
Laurie Holton      1:52:51
Yogita Bouchard 1:53:00
Linnea Sharelove 2:05:22

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Meet Your Maker 50 miler

Somehow I got talked into entering the Meet Your Maker 50 mile race in Whistler last weekend. Although talking me into the race went something like this...-Carolyn- "I'm doing this Whistler 50 miler next weekend, you should run it" -Randy- "Ah...okay"...I wasn't sure if I was up for 82km, but it didn't seam a far stretch from this seasons many 40-50km runs. 50 solo runners set off at the crack of dawn, 6:15am, and started the first of 7 legs that took you in a giant loop through the mountains around Whistler. The first leg was a fast and easy 10km and gave me some time to settle in and chat with a few runners. I realized that just about every runner was a seasoned veteran and had completed many Ultras and judging by there fast times, I new I was running with the wrong crowd, so I backed off when I hit the first aid station. The next section was a gnarly 21km on the famous Comfortably Numb Trail. Anyone who has run or ridden this trail knows that there are no easy Kilometers to be had as it constantly twists and turns with short ups and downs . I Stubbed my big toe 15 times on this section, more than the last two years of running added up! By the time I got out of this part of the trail I was so happy to just put my head down and not worry about all the rocks and roots. The third section was a 10km climb that took me from the base of Blackcomb straight up 5,000' to almost the top of Seventh Heaven and then descended down to the Peak to Peak Chair. When I got to the top I was now 7 hours and half way at 42km into the race. Although the weather was perfect for running, the top of the mountain was a cool 8 degrees and I started to shiver in my sweaty T-shirt. When I got into the warm Tram ride for the 10 minute transfer from the top of Blackcomb to the top of Whistler, I had those first thoughts slip into my head about how easy it would be to quite. I figure this is the part of the race that now goes from a physical challenge to a mental challenge. It's actually easy to physically keep the legs going hour after hour as long as you can control those mental thoughts of why you can't or shouldn't keep going- that's the tough part!! The fourth leg at 8km long takes you on a quad pounding straight on descent from the top of Whistler to Whistler Creekside. It was so steep in some sections I was not sure if it was better to run it fast and get it over with or control my speed to save the Quads- I took the later approach which seamed to pay off later in the race. At Whistler Creekside, after a 5'000' descent, the next 12km section started off by turning around and going straight back up the mountain- ouch!...It took me a little bit of time to get the wobbly legs to move again, but eventually they did, as I was now focused on getting to the end of this section where the first cut off time was at. I thought I had lots of time to get there, but as I started to look at my watch, the 3:30pm cut off time was coming up fast. I ended up running - what felt like a 10km time trail pace- hammering to the next aid station getting in at 3:27pm! 3 minutes later and my race would have been over. I actually caught up to a few runners I hadn't seen since km5 and they were looking a little beaten down, so this gave me the much needed "mini boost" of adrenaline to get my ass moving again. The sixth section started off with a steep switch back climb that seamed to go on and on and on...The only thing that got me through this section was the thought of a large Coke at the next aid station. After 11hrs and 72km of running in the mountains I got to the aid station and there was no Coke!...I think I either cried or looked up to the sky and muttered something like "why me?"...One of the other runners offered me a cup of his personal stash and I gladly chugged back a glass of hot Coke- that must have been sitting in the sun. Within 30 seconds of downing the Coke and a Mars Bar, I popped out of my "feel sorry for yourself" stupor and said to the other competitor who was happily sitting in a chair "Lets go! Time to finish this f#&ker" The last 10km seamed to go on and on, but the smell of the finish line kept my legs moving, even feeling not to bad on the climbs, until I got back to the finish line at the Whistler Olympic Village in just over 12hrs.  Two Thirds of the runners either dropped out or didn't make the cut off time so I was really happy to just get this 50 miler off the  bucket list. I was a really well marked beautiful, but challenging course that I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a great 50miler. I am sure they will deal with the difficult cut off times next year as I think this was the only issue runners were not happy about.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Come on out all trail runners for this fall fun race. It's a great time of year to just enjoy the forests and mountain air, meet new trail runners or see how your running has progressed over the season. The course will be almost all trail- I guarantee you'll love it!  It will also be a great way to get ready for the Awesome Kaslo Sufferfest 3 weeks later.

WHEN: Saturday September 8, 2012

WHERE: Svaboda Road Parking Lot ( Top of Elwyn St. in Nelson)

RACE START: 9am rain or shine

COURSE: Coming soon, but all trail - NO Road except the first 400 meters.
              Approx 13km of fun single track and a big loop in the middle.

REGISTRATION: At Race Start 8:00am-8:45am

COST: $35 Adult,  $20 for 18yrs and under, $50 for the family.  Cash or Cheque only

FUNDRAISER: All proceeds go directly to improvements of the Nelson running trails.

If you have any questions, fire me off an email at

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Rockwall Trail

When "Plan B" turns out to be better than "Plan A" it makes for an extra special adventure. My friend from Vancouver, Patrick Thrift and I were chomping at the bit all year to have redemption on the Earl Grey Pass Trail, but because the trail is in lousy condition, we opted for the Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park. The 60km ish  long trail from Flow Lake to Marble Canyon covered some unreal-sensory overloaded- eye candy terrain. On a perfect blue sky day, the run took us up and down three amazing mountain passes (somehow I can swear there was four?- Maybe just a long false summit that I forgot about in the moment of delirium). The trail is almost a big loop, taking you back to the HWY about 15km to hitch back to the car. We got off at 6am as we new it was going to be a long day. It took 2:20hrs to get over Numa pass and another 2:20hrs to drop down into the valley and get to the top of the next pass. The hardest part of the run was trying to take in all the amazing terrain- it was easy to forget some of the grunting sections, because you were too busy blow away by it's beauty.  What makes this a great trail is the choices of running just 25km or 40km instead of the whole 60km. Any of the shorter loops are just as worthy as they all take you up into the high alpine.
It took us just under 10hrs 30min to run with just under 9,000' of climbing, so the legs enjoyed the glacial creek at the end of the run. I'd highly recommend this run as it should be on every trail runners bucket list.

Flow Lake

Almost up on Numa Pass

what we thought was the last pass looking back , was just another false summit

Just one more pass

The rock wall on the left rises another 3'000'

Helmet Fall- one of Canada's tallest

Huge mud slide debris pile

New growth after the huge fires from a few years back

Marble Canyon

Cold Cokes we stashed in the river at the end

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Kokanee Glacier Traverse

The Group run through Kokanee went off without a hitch. Eight of us left the Enterprise Creek Drainage on the Slocan Lake side of Kokanee Glacier Park at 6:45am this morning and five others left the Gibson Lake parking lot on the east side of the park at 8am. We crisscrossed through the park to avoid any car dropping. All eight runners with me were so solid we happily stayed in tight formation cruising through the whole traverse in 3:59:54 hrs...Yes I know, I actually was looking at my watch at about 3:30hrs into the run and thought- Hmmm- we might be able to break 4 hrs if we keep moving briskly...the competitive side still reaps it's head from time to time! That said; we all felt great right to the end. Although the logistics of putting together this run with so many people was a little arduous at times, it was so worth it in so many ways...It really is awesome to share such amazing terrain with a group of such inspired runners.
Thanks Bill!!! for taking the east to west runners. Bill hasn't run at all and is suffering from 2 months of bronchitis or some mystery chest infection,but still happily grunted through the whole run...

Making Steady Pace up Enterprise Creek

Can't believe nobody actually fell in!

Just ascending out of the Enterprise valley above Tanal Lake

Tim on the last grunt almost at the pass

The West to East Group at the Col with Kokanee Glacier in the back

Both groups as we met up at Kokanee Cabin

Our Kootenay Version of the Beatles Abby Road album cover!
Andrew cruising by Kaslo Lake

Few snow patches left on the way to Kokanee Lake

Carolyn and Lex along a half frozen Kokanee Lake

Monday, July 23, 2012

7 Summits Trail Run

Ahhh so good to finally get into the alpine. High ridge running, wildflowers, beautiful mountain peaks and a bunch of guys who are hootin' and hollering with joy (at least for the first 4 hours of the run :) ....We added in the Old Glory out and back detour to our 7 summits trail run which makes for a wonderful day. Although under 40km of trail, you certainly earn every kilometer of trail- no easy km on this run!  A 5-1/2 hrs run which includes the 1-1/2hr Old Glory detour
                                                                Top of Old Glory- 8,000'