Take It In Stride: Trail Running

antracker has been in the Yukon a few times.

In case you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s reality TV, Canadian style, where a couple of cowboys on horses chase after two people or “prey” on foot. The prey try to make it to a finish point before Mantracker catches them.

On a trail run, particularly on tight trails, I feel like Mantracker is chasing me and it feels strangely invigorating.

Trail running is a completely different beast from running on the road. Footing is varied, surface is varied, trail size is varied, hills, particularly on many Yukon trails should really be called punishment.

For all those reasons and more, trail running is glorious. It feels natural. It rewards the Yukon runner with breathtaking views, particularly when one breaks through the trees.

Someone once told me that we have 800 km of trails within the city limits of Whitehorse, let alone the entire Yukon. Nature’s playground at our back doors.

I was introduced to trail running through Nancy Thomson’s weekly trail run (Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. starting again soon—check www.athleticsyukon.ca for locations).

The first one I attended quickly kicked my sorry behind. I even thought I was in OK shape at the time.

IMAGE: iStock

After a couple of seasons of trails, though, I now prefer it to the road, especially for longer runs. It makes the whole body work harder, but there is less impact as the ground is more forgiving.

The Yukon hosts one of the top 10 trail events in the country with the Yukon River Trail Marathon every August (www.yukonmarathon.com).

You can run in relay teams, a half marathon or a full marathon. The course starts in downtown Whitehorse and covers a bunch of great trails near the river and out past Chadburn Lake.

There are other trail events, such as the 10th annual Mt. Lorne Mis-Adventure in July. Nancy is also working towards a big new trail event in August so watch out for details in the coming months.

For the uber crazy of you out there, check out the Canadian Death Race (www.canadiandeathrace.com). Now, that is insane.

Trail running has its pitfalls. Exposed roots are a tripping hazard. Occasional insects get annoying. One year wasps were bad and I was stung on two separate occasions.

It’s always a good idea to bring some hydration with you, just in case you go off course and your run takes a bit longer than expected.

I carry a cell phone, especially when running alone, and stick to trails with cell coverage. If I want to go further out, I make sure it is with friends, and that someone knows where we are going.

You also have to watch out for bears and other animals. Thankfully, they mostly want nothing to do with you.

Nancy organizes a bear safety talk with a conservation officer every season as part of one of our weekly trail runs. At the talk, you can learn what you need to know in the unlikely event you meet one of our furry friends on the trail and need to channel your inner Rocky to save your bacon.

The last few paragraphs made trail running sound a bit daunting. It really isn’t.

The variables help make for a more interesting run. The mind can’t wander on the trail the way it does on the road, and the runs go by in the blink of an eye with the varied terrain.

Come on out to an organized trail run, or just head out your back door and give it a try.

Trail running top tip: if two cowboys on horseback chase you during your run, use fartleks (mini sprints, not flatulence) to evade capture.

Until next time, keep one foot moving in front of the other towards a happier and healthier life.

Ben Yu Schott lives in Whitehorse with his family. He writes a monthly running column, Take It in Stride, for What’s Up Yukon.

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