Wednesday, December 30, 2009


This week's fun is 6 days of Circus School! When I saw this advertised, I was all over it. I thought the trapeze would be a pretty cool thing to learn, plus all the other circus apparatus that they had rigged up. What a great way to spend my Christmas holidays.

However, it didn't turn out quite the way I expected. I spent all of day one feeling very nauseated from hanging upside down and swinging around. And I was hoping that an early night with lots of sleep would put it behind me but no; day two was even worse. I bought some motion sickness patches, packed a very simple lunch and also took a thermos of hot ginger tea. But by mid morning, I was already feel a bit yukky. And by the end of the afternoon I started vomiting! So today, I decided to stay home; I guess I won't be running away to join the circus after all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


La Transtica was fun and definitely an adventure. We were picked up at the San Jose airport by none other than Bernard Marchall, the Race Director. That in itself was pretty incredible, but the fact that it was gone midnight, made it even more amazing!

We got to meet the other races (31 of us in all) at the press conference the next morning and it was fun trying to put names to faces from the website. We were then invited to the French Ambassador's residence for lunch. Ooh la, la! The following morning we headed out of the city towards the Pacific Ocean where we would start our race. The Costa Rican Fire Department (Los Bomberos) were providing security and medical back-up (we had our own ambulance!) so we got plenty of funny looks as we travelled along in convoy fashion.
After reaching our destination and sorting out our gear, we headed down to the beach for a 6km prologue, just to get the legs moving and see where everyone was at with their running. There were some pretty fast runners but I sure wasn't one of them! I found running on the beach really hard, plus the air seemed so incredibly hot and heavy. I moved as quickly as I could, bearing in mind that I had a lot of mileage coming up over the week, so didn't kill myself out there. There are 2 categories in La Transtica; adventure (approx 20 km per day) and extreme (approx 40 km per day). Steve and myself were in extreme.

The next day was suppose to be 43 km and it started out super hot. And hilly. And humid. My running skirt was dripping wet within in an hour which kind of freaked me out to start with but I figured it would be like that all week, so best to get used to being wet. We started on the beach and ran on a dirt road that ran next to the river, which happened to have crocodiles in it! Needless to say, I ran the first 5 km as quickly as possible. It was a tough couple of hours to start with due to the heat, but I felt a little better as I started to overtake some folks. I think everyone was suffering as we had all come out of autumn/winter for the race.

Unfortunately, there was a problem later on with the course markings and all the front runners were lost so the race was stopped while the organizers spread out to make sure that everyone was accounted for and safe. I'd only run 30 km and was starting to get into the groove (plus I'd overtaken 5 people at this point) so was disappointed that the day had been cut short, but what to do? We're in Costa Rica and things don't always go to plan so best just to let things flow. So, I sat back waiting for some of the other runners to come in and watched life in a local village which was fun. As we were transferred to our lodging for the night, the heavens opened and I got my first taste of "The Rain". Oh boy, it's torrential!

The next few days were spent dripping in the heat of the morning and running in the rain in the afternoon. I loved it! It was like being a big kid again, splashing through enormous puddles and mud, glorious mud! We ran past lots of coffee plantations and ran through some fantastic rain forests. The jungle sections were amazing - it was like Indianna Jones!

The nice thing about this event is that it's not just about the running as there is a humanitarian side to the it. As we ran across the country, we would stay in local communities where we helped deliver medical and school supplies to the village which was sweet. We would all help to present school kids with backpacks full of books, pencils etc and quite often there would be a delivery of a computer or building supplies. In one case, we delivered a wheelchair. We would camp in local schools or buildings and the local people would cook for us and the kids would put on a show of local dances. It was interesting to see how everything differed from region to region.

We spent one morning rafting which was incredible - it was 4 hours of Class 4 rapids pretty much continuous. It was a total blast - I think I spent more time laughing than I did paddling. We pulled in at one place for lunch and to make a donation to the indigenous indian tribes who live about 8 hours by foot, from the river. The elders and some of the school teachers had come down to receive the school and medical supplies, along with some of the kids who were shy but very excited! It was fascinating to hear about how they live.

We spent the night before our last day of running outside the Caribbean town of Limon where most of us unfortunately got food poisoning (the only time on the trip). Yuk! Luckily we only had 27 km to run, which is far enough when you've got nothing in you. The race took us from the rainforest to the beach and I decided I would run my legs off through the rainforest and give myself some headway as I'm totally crap at running in sand. After running through lots of mud, tree routes and swampy trails we hit the open beach where we had to swim across to a sand bar. The first part of this was okay, even though it felt a little strange swimming in all my running gear! But once we reached the sandbar, it was obvious that the next swimming section was going to be more challenging as the there was quite a strong current coming in with the sea. The first runner to start crossing needed rescuing pretty much immediately and once he was safely pulled back to the beach, we started to look at finding a safer spot to swim across. Once a safer spot was found, loads of people starting swimming and I felt comfortable doing the same. After swimming half way, one of the Costa Rican runners started to panic in front of me so I called out for help and tried to calm him down but found myself getting into trouble as he was thrashing out with his arms and legs and before I knew it, I couldn't keep myself upright or breathe properly; the thought of drowning was not fun. I somehow managed to find the energy to let out one last huge scream for help and someone pulled myself and the Costa Rican to shore. It'd been a pretty scary experience. Once everyone had gotten safely to shore, I figured I needed to stay focussed on the job at hand and continued with the rest of the race. It's probably the hardest 27 km I'll ever do and I can't tell you how relieved I felt getting to the finishing line as I was wasted at that point!

We were treated to a lovely resort that night where we had hot water (a novelty in C.R) and only myself and Steve in the room (instead of camping beside 40-something other people!) It was bliss! The next day we headed back to San Jose for the Banquet and Award Ceremony. There were 15 people in the extreme category and 5 of them dropped out after a few days (and moved to the adventure category). Steve came in 3rd overall and I came in 8th. We met lots of really interesting people and enjoyed seeing Costa Rica from the ground up. It was fun being amongst all the French people as they gave it a different twist and the Costa Ricans were lovely to be with. All in all, a great trip!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Congratulations to those who were picked in the WS lottery this morning. I was watching the live feed hoping that my name would come up, but it didn't happen. Next time!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

We survived Costa Rica!

Wow, what a trip! The race was a full-on adventure. Packed with rain, mud, rainforest, jungle, crocodiles, snakes, frogs, lost people, i.v's, near drownings and french people! Who could want more from their holiday?!!

Race report to follow.

Monday, November 16, 2009


In 48 hours, Steve and myself will be en route to Costa Rica and I can't tell you how excited I am! We signed up for a fairly new multi-day running race called La Transtica

We'll be running from one side of the country to the other so we should get to see lots of interesting countryside from the ground up. It's got a bit of everything; beach, rainforest, coffee plantations and dirt road. Plenty of elevation gain/loss and and lots of heat, humity, mud and possible rain ... my body won't know what's hit it! And instead of bears, cougars and wolves, it's got venomous frogs, snakes, jaguars and goodness knows what else! I hope I don't need to step off the trail for a poop at any stage because it might be ugly; it's a jungle out there!

The other great thing about the race is that there is a humanitarian aspect to it as we'll be helping to deliver medical and school supplies to the local villages that we pass through. I think that's neat as I'll be the first to admit that I get pretty self-absorbed with this running lark so it'll be good to be involved with helping others rather than being focussed on my own self.

It sounds like a unique event. The Race Director is French, as are most of the other runners, except for a half dozen Costa Ricans and one Aussie.. It was hard to know if to learn Spanish or brush up my French! Luckily, speaking Aussie comes naturally!

Anyway, wish us luck! I'll let you know how we get on once we're back.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Wildest Dream

The Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival is one of my favourite local events. Located at The Banff Centre every November, the campus is transformed for the week with prayer flags hanging outside the buildings and world class adventurers and explorers catching up with old friends and swapping stories. I attended a talk by Chris Sharma who is probably the best sports climbers in the US, if not the world. And later saw Mike Fay who has just finished walking through the Redwoods in California.

I also bought a ticket to see Dean Karnazes who had been invited to the event to talk about his running accomplishments but I was disappointed; he's got a very polished act which I thought was cheesy and superficial. Nothing like I expected. I take my hat off to him for his athleticism but I wouldn't pay good money to see him speak again. However, the evening wasn't a total right-off as they were screening the premier of The Wildest Dream which is a beautiful documentary and well worth seeing. Below is the description of it.

In 1999, Conrad Anker discovered the frozen body of George Mallory on Mount Everest. For years afterward, he wondered about Mallory's quest for the summit. Mallory and his partner, Andrew Irvine, were last seen in 1924 only a few hundred meters from the summit. Had the pair tackled the Second Step successfully and made it to the top? How much was Mallory torn between his love for Everest and his love for his wife Ruth? What was it like to climb a mountain as cold and brutal as Everest in the relatively light, flimsy gear of the 1920s?

The Wildest Dream sets out to answer these questions with archival video footage of Mallory and Irvine on the mountain, love letters between Mallory and Ruth, and a bold attempt to reenact their bid for the summit by modern-day climbers Conrad Anker and Leo Houlding. The new National Geographic feature film got its premiere Canadian screening Saturday night at the Banff Mountain Film festival.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2010 Western States Lottery

If you've been sitting on the fence about putting your name in for this race, then you only have until midnight tomorrow
(15 October).
Go on, you know you want to do it!

Friday, October 9, 2009


I've grown to love the ritual of celebrating Thanksgiving. Like all Banffites, I cram as much into the summer as possible and this year was an exceptional one - life just seems to keep on getting better every year! It was super busy with running, road trips and many fabulous adventures. But now that we're on the cusp of winter, it's all starting to slow down a little. We had our first BIG snow dump yesterday so it's all white and beautiful out there. Time to dust off the cross-country skis, put together a winter training program and take a little more time to rest and relax. Banff is quiet and it's lovely to be able to bump into friends as I make my way around town. Even though we love our tourists, I think most people in Banff breath a sigh of relief every Oct/Nov when we get to reclaim the town back for a few weeks inbetween seasons.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! It's a great reminder of how lucky we are.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pipestone to Skoki

With the larches turning yellow, it was time to run into Skoki. We decided to make a day of it and run via the Pipestone (48 km) which is the same region where Mike and myself had been running on our Molar Pass day.
There are always creek crossings involved when we run with Steve - guaranteed! I can't start to explain how freezing cold the water felt but luckily there were no more than a half dozen of them!
The Skoki valley
The larch trees were so yellow, they almost looked neon.

The colour of this lake was amazing - I love turquoise! Even the sound of the colour is exotic.
Looks like a storm is coming - I hope everyone brought their rain jackets?!!!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Crypt Lake, Waterton National Park

Crypt Lake is rated as one of the best hiking trails in Canada because it shouts of Adventure! 17.2 km of Adventure. First, you need to take a 15 minute boatride from Waterton over to the trailhead.
Then you run a beautiful, hot and dry trail (mainly uphill) to the Real Fun Bit - the ledge and the tunnel!
The trail to the ledge/tunnel.
Steve climbing the ladder up to the tunnelWatch your head!

When you come out of the tunnel, you have to scamper up another rocky section but there's a steel cable in place to help you up.Sure is a long way down!

Crypt Lake! What time did you say the last boat leaves?

I'm HOT!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Waterton has some beautiful trails to choose from and we decided to run Carthew/Alderson Trail, but instead of doing it as an out and back which seems to be the most popular for hikers, we planned do one big loop and run along the Boundary Trail inside the US and pop back out at Waterton Lake, a total of about 34 km. What a fantastic day! The trail up to Carthew Summit was beautiful; very rugged and mountainous. On the other side, the Boundary Trail looked like it hadn't been used for many months - very overgrown and rugged.

Waterton National Park

I can't believe that it's taken me so long to get down to visit Waterton. It's only 5 hours from Banff and if you take the #40 through Kanananskis, it's a beautiful scenic drive. You also get to travel through the ranching areas of Longview and Pincher Creek and it's a reminder that Alberta is Cowboy Country!

Waterton neighbours Glacier National Park in the US and together, they form the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. How cool is that! 505 sq km in size, it's not a huge park but boy, it is choka-blok full of beautiful scenery and unique features. It has the oldest exposed sedimentary rock in the Canadian Rockies so looks very different from the mountains here in Banff and is surrounded by the prairies.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mist Ridge, Kananaskis

I managed to take a Friday and Monday off so it was time to plan a road trip! When you have 4 days off in a row, it's important to do something special with them so Steve and myself decided to have our last summer hoorah and head down to Waterton National Park. It's only 5 hours away from Banff but is another world from here!
Instead of being scrunched in the car for most of the day, we decided to stop in Kananaskis en route and chose Mist Ridge as it's a nice 24 km loop and would give us some great views of the area past Highwood Pass.

I'll post photos from Waterton shortly!

Molar Pass-Fish Lakes-North Molar Pass

I love running loops! Big loops if possible. When Mike told me he wanted to run into North Molar Pass, I was quick to suggest doing a loop which turned out to be 53 km. Perfect for a day's outing so he, Leslie and myself set off from Mosquito Creek and took off to Molar Pass. I hadn't been in that direction before so it was fun seeing something new. This is the view from Molar Pass.
Leslie had run this way last year and had mentioned that it's easy to lose the trail which we did almost immediately after the Pass. But it was fun bush whacking our way down to the valley floor and from there, we followed Molar Creek. We weren't the only ones travelling this way. We bumped into 2 hikers from Seattle who had done the loop in reverse over 3 days and were on their way out. They were quite surprised that we were doing it in a day! We also came across these wolf prints which were very cool to see.
After reaching the Pipestone River, we started to head in the direction of Fish Lakes. It's such a beautiful area out here and, apart from a party of horse riders, we saw no-one until we started up North Molar Pass.
After leaving Fish Lakes, we started heading towards North Molar Pass and bumped into lots of people hiking into the camp ground there. It'd be a gorgeous place to camp! We bumped into some folks that we had passed earlier on in the morning so it was nice catching up with them. Thanks for taking the photo of the 3 amigos for us (L-R: Leslie, me and Mike).
Mike and Leslie heading over North Molar Pass.
Mike in his element!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Northover Ridge

At the end of last month, Mike and myself ran Northover Ridge in Kananaskis. This is a 36 km loop which we did for the first time last year and which quickly became a classic.

Burstall Pass

Kananaskis is one of my favourite areas; not only does it have one very cool sounding name, but it is also home to some drop-dead gorgeous scenery. Located between Banff and Calgary, it's easy to get to and tends to have less people than Banff. Last weekend, Steve and myself headed out to do some running at Burstall Pass and even though I knew it was going to be pretty, I had no clue that it was going to be so stunning!
The Robertson Glacier above, views from Burstall Pass and looking down on Leman Lake.

Mt Assiniboine poking up at the back of the mountain range.

Summer fun

I finally got ran the Skyline Trail in Jasper a few weeks back. It's stunning. From the minute you leave the trailhead at Maligne Lake, it's just one gorgeous run. The views from up at The Notch were a little hazy due to some forest fires further north and it was also very windy, but what a sweet day!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Race report: Stormy 100 mile

Located close to Vancouver and en route to Whistler, Squamish is dubbed the "outdoor recreation capital of Canada". I can remember passing through this small town many years ago and being impressed with the huge rocky crags that sit at the edge of town.

Stormy 100 starts at the recreation center in Brennan Park and comprises of 2 x 50 mile (80 km) loops that have you running on all sorts of terrain. The race is 97% trails or forest service roads and 3% paved road and has 6000 feet of elevation gain per loop.

We started the race at 10.00 am (the original start time is 12.00 noon which seems extremely late in the day if you're a crack-of-dawn type of girl like me). Luckily, the recent heat wave had started to drop and the temperature was perfect. I was surprised at how fast everyone bolted off from the starting line. With 100 miles (160 km) to run, what's the hurry? Steve and myself stayed at the back for quite a while but knew we would inevitably catch up with some of the folks who had gotten sucked into the fast start. Funny how that happens ... I made that mistake when I first started racing and learnt the lesson well after being totally spanked on a local race.

The nice thing about this race is that you get to run on such varied terrain. The paved sections were short enough to enjoy and the single track was the sweetest, technical single track that I've ever run on. It was a blast! I felt like a 5 year old running through some of the most amazing forests with ferns and plants bigger than me. I like the technical stuff ... it's like mountain biking without the bike and is pure fun. The other thing I enjoyed was running with Steve for the first 30 km or so. He's a much faster runner than me so it's natural that we eventually lost sight of each other.

Also on the course were sections of forest service roads and the 2 main ones were nothing short of evil. The first one, called University, had us climbing up and up (and up!) and then finally we were back onto a single track section for the descent. The other gnarly section is another forest service road called 9 Mile Hill. Yep! it's 9 miles of super steep up on a gravel road but a nice descent on single track.

During the first lap, I tried to make a mental note of the course as I knew I would be running most of the second lap in the dark and even though it was very well marked with flagging tape, we all know how easy it is to zone out and miss a turn. I was amazed at how much I remembered!

The race director for Stormy is Wendy Montgomery and it was obvious that she had put in a lot of work into the race and had a wonderful team of volunteers also putting in a lot of hours to make the event a success. There were plenty of aid stations en route with fluid and nibblies and there was no problem with being able to drop an aid bag at the bottom of 9 Mile Hill (which is a life saver if you enjoy running without a crew or pacer).

The other nice thing about this race is that it's a low key event. The volunteers and the crews of other racers do a great job of cheering you on at the aid stations but otherwise, I found it to be a pretty quiet race. And with only another 29 competitors on the course, you get to spend lots of time running by yourself. This might not be some people's idea of fun, but I love being able to spend time inside my own head and tend to be a bit of a loner when it comes to racing so it definitely suited me.

I had a great time at Stormy; I thoroughly enjoyed the race and kudos to all the people who work so hard in making this event a success.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stormy 100 mile

I'm happy to report that we made it!

Apart from some foot/leg pain that would cramp periodically, I felt pretty good and even managed to run the last 4 km pretty hard and finished with a sprint; I was trying to beat the clock I guess - I made it in 24.55 hours and came 12th overall and 3rd female in my age group. Steve did awesome and was waiting for me at the finish. He came in at 22.52 hours, 5th overall and 3rd in his age group.

Will do a proper report later - it's time for me to have a post-race and birthday drink!