Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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Running with Wolves

dog photobomb

Oh hello

Over the long weekend I headed up the highway to the tiny community of Toad River where my friend was house-sitting at a local guide outfitters lodge/home. Being the spontaneous types we are we decided to run to a place referred to as the Nonda Creek Tower. It’s a radio tower at the end of a very rough road. I had driven to this place 10+ years ago so my memory wasn’t serving me well. I figured the route could be anywhere between 6km and 25km. Neither one of us consulted a map Google first.

dog in the mountains

Woo Hoo, we’re in the mountains

We aren’t totally dumb and did pack day-packs to be on the safe side (I’m quite certain mine weighed 20 lbs).
After 9km of blissful uphill running on a nice hard snow packed surface (thank you snowmobilers) we still had no clue how much farther the tower was.

group shot

We look so happy! The dogs didn’t want their photos taken though.

We did clue in to the fresh wolf tracks and wolf scat (poop, but scat sounds smarter). I also noticed that Kobi started heeling a few times. I just thought she was tired or perhaps demonstrating how well-trained she is (she’s a hooligan, but I’m easily fooled).

winter road

Not a bad view

Finally, at 12.5km, we admitted defeat and turned around as we still had to get ourselves back to the truck. By this time the hard packed snow was more like soft snow and my feet were wet and my toes were hurting from attempting to grip the snow from inside my shoes (futile, but I do this).

dog in a creek

Just a cool photo for your viewing pleasure

A few km’s into the return trip, Kobi heels again, this time so intensely she nearly trips me. Again I’m thinking, “what a good girl, so well-trained.” I’m completely exhausted at this point and my blood sugar is low and all the cells in my body were doing their best just to keep my legs moving at the expense of the higher cognitive functions of my brain. Basically, my brain didn’t translate heeling dog = imminent danger.

I’m quite sure there was something lurking in the woods watching us, likely wolves. I’m sure Kobi and the other dog Dino knew we were being watched, but the two completely exhausted humans were unaware.

mountain view at Toad River

More mountain views

Perhaps my obliviousness was my subconscious way of not freaking out. Had I put two and two together, I would’ve been scared. Especially when you’re in the middle of nowhere where cell phones don’t work and where no one else knows your exact location.

Kobi eventually took her usual place of 20-30m in front of the pack (I should have named her Scout) and we made it to the truck. Exhausted and with sore toes, but we made it.

winter trail

This is where Kobi is when there isn’t danger, way out in front.

I’ll know better next time to pay more attention to Kobi’s reactions.  I have high-tailed it out of many areas before because I’ve seen her acting odd.  I’ll blame my recent poor observation skills on low blood sugar and thin mountain air.

Do you find yourself gripping your toes inside your shoes when you run on uneven surfaces? What do you think was lurking in the woods? Wolves? Yeti? Other?

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Racing Thoughts

runner and dog

Just us, pondering life and which way to run.

Howdy y’all. We’re full on in the season of Almost-Spring. You know, winter in the morning (ice and possible snow flurries) and then spring by afternoon (snow and mud). Soon enough it will be full on mud.

In the spirit of Almost-Spring, I’ve been thinking about my summer racing plans.  Okay, more like my lack of summer racing plans.  Because I’m so remote and have to travel far and wide to races I’m just not feeling the racing travel love.

I’ve decided to race close to home and will maybe just do a few out-of-town races, or not. We have some decent races up here, except 3 of them are ones I help with so I don’t get to run them. But, the ultra-cool news is that I wanted another local race so I’ve hit up the rec department and we’re going to host a mountain run! I’m not going to miss running this one because it’s in the mountains and there is nothing more beautiful than running with caribou in the mountains with your dog.

two dogs

Kobi is playing with her sister Caribou. She also likes running with the other kind of caribou.

Because we have no idea how many people may show up and we’re not really sure how the logistics of a remote race are going to work, we’re making it free!  We want folks to come out and run and provide input as to how to make it an even more super awesome event next year.  Oh and there will be no swag. That’s right, no stuff. No race shirt, no medals, no water stations, and you have to time yourself. Boy, I’m not selling this one very well.

You will get to see views like this (hopefully with less snow).

summit mountains

So pretty

There will be some perks, such as:  water and snacks at the finish line, you can bring your dog, and the Parks guy promised he’d chase the grizzly bears away – I’m serious.

This is going to be awesome! Come on, it’s in the mountains, it’s gorgeous and shouldn’t running be about running, not the swag?

In case any of you want to travel north and see some stunning mountains and wildlife, you can register here (remember it’s free). It all happens on June 20. It might cost you a little bit in airfare, but if you get yourself here, I promise I will drive you to the race – it’s a beautiful 1.5 hour long drive – as long as you don’t mind Kobi kisses. She likes to kiss passengers.

snow dog

Kobi sends kisses

Would you test out our mountain race? Ever run with caribou? How about grizzlies?  Is it springtime where you live?


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Running with Dinosaurs

dinosaur mural

When dinosaurs roamed free

I ran another trail race on Saturday, Emperor’s Challenge.  I only had to drive 1200km round-trip to do so.  Yup, I live in the middle of nowhere.  It was also only six days since I ran the trail race in the Yukon (recap here).

I left home late so I didn’t get to my destination until close to 7PM.  I bought and ate some grub, got my race gear together and then painted my fingernails purple.  I started the purple fingernail ritual last May when I ran a PB at the BMO Half Marathon after painting my nails purple, therefore, purple nail polish makes me run faster.

Side-note, I have an irrational fear of dinosaurs. This race is held in an area where there are tons of dinosaur fossils – it’s their claim to fame and hence coal mining is the major industry and also the closest I will get to running with velociraptors (dead ones anyway).

dinosaur bones

GRRRRR

This was my fourth time doing this race and third time on this route.  They have to change routes as the mining company keeps removing the mountains the race is on.  It used to be a small race, but it has really grown popular and they cap it at 1000 entries now.  650+ people showed up this year.  It attracts a very talented group of fast mountain runners.

Emperors Challenge

The scenery is much prettier than this once you get going

It’s 20km long, is a pile of uphill, some flat rocky areas at the top, then a ton of technical downhill, more uphill, and then more downhill.  The last stretch is a long downhill on a gravel road to the finish (downhill doesn’t always feel good).  Of course the very last bit is uphill.  So cruel.

Emperors Challenge

the views are pretty nice

I ran 2:06:27 (my best time yet on this course – see purple nail polish does make you faster) and placed 5th in my age group (141 total) and 14th out of the women (414) so I’m not going to complain.  I will complain about changing in the backseat of my vehicle and giving myself a leg cramp and then driving 6 hours back home.

Two hours into the drive, I took my first break and ate way too many french fries and a large iced coffee which kept me pretty entertained for the next four hours.  I don’t drink caffeinated drinks very often so it hit me pretty hard.

Do you have any odd pre-race rituals?  Are you scared of dinosaurs?  Would you drive 6 hours to run a trail race – with dinosaurs?