Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Busy schedule

I saw this comic on and thought it was quite brilliant.

iRunFar Year in Review

iRunFar asked Sara and I to send in our thoughts on the 2009 season to be included with other trail ultra runners in a retrospective of the year.
We had so many great memories from the year that it was hard to limit it to just a few quick thoughts.
Click here to read the article.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Spafford Health and Adventure on Facebook and Twitter

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Week of Dec 21 - 27

Training Summary:
Encouraging week of running. Was able to do all runs on snowshoes which helped my knee. Feeling in a pretty good place going into next week. If we keep the snow, I think I should be able to continue to cautiously increase runs a little more. Increasing my rehab, which takes so long to do, but seems to be helping to strengthen further. I think it will be a good thing to help bomb proof my legs for when I am able to get back to training like normal.

Got my 20 year streak in on Dec 25... and ran the next day. If my knee had been like it was a few weeks ago, I might not have run on Boxing Day, but seems to be improving. Will keep it going for now.

Total # of hours this week: 3:07
Total # of runs this week: 7
2009 total # of hours: 530:28
2009 total # of runs: 447
Streak: 7,306 days in a row
Training Log Details

Friday, December 25, 2009

20 Year Running Streak

December 25, 2009... Not only is it Christmas Day (and Shane MacGowan's birthday), but also represents exactly 20 years to the day since I took a day off from running.

A lot of things have changed over the years in my life and I feel like I am a somewhat different person than I was in 1989, but the one thing that has been constant is that I have gone for a run each and every day.

I plan to write a little more over the next few days about some of the things I have run through over the years, but right now it feels pretty good to sit back and take a look at the numbers and reflect on some of the runs over the years.

Monday, December 21, 2009

La Sportiva Contest

La Sportiva is continuing to have some great contests on their Mountain Running Blog. Check out this contest for a chance at some great loot! All you have to do to enter is post your Running New Years Resolution.

Dion Snowshoes backordered

The early snowfall has lead to higher than anticipated Dion snowshoe sales so far this year.

Due to overwhelming response, we are temporarily backordered. Our next shipment is expected to arrive within the week.

To guarantee delivery, orders can still be submitted now for priority sequence and will be shipped on the day of backorder arriving.

For more details and to place orders for Dion Snowshoes in Canada, please go to Spafford Health and Adventure. U.S. customers can still place orders directly through Dion Snowshoes in Vermont.

Week of Dec 14 - 20

Training Summary:
Some good, some bad. There were a few days where I felt quite optimistic, while other days where I was pretty frustrated. On the whole though, I do think that my knee is getting stronger and improving. I definitely notice more strength in the quad, but still feel occasional pain. I'm pleased that I was able to increase slightly and get a couple of 30 minute runs that felt like I was actually running again. If we could get just a bit of powder on top of the hard crust, I think I'd feel that much better still while running on snowshoes.

Total # of hours this week: 2:46
Total # of runs this week: 7
2009 total # of hours: 536:21
2009 total # of runs: 442
Streak: 7,299 days in a row
Training Log Details

Friday, December 18, 2009

SHA Holiday Draw

Congratulations to the following winners of the Spafford Health and Adventure - Holiday Draw!

Robyn Vanberkel - Free Entry to Frontenac Snowshoe Race

Donna Malekos - La Sportiva/SHA technical fabric t-shirt

Michelle Pothier - Free Entry to Sydenham Fall Trail Run

Thank you to everyone who entered. Please contact us if you would like to receive our quarterly newsletter that includes event updates, special discounts, free draws and more.
Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Snowshoe Magazine: Snowshoe season underway

Snowshoe season is officially underway now.

The first snowshoe race of the season began this past weekend a few hours to the north of us with the ever challenging Mad Trapper Snowshoe Race near Low, Quebec. It sounded like Mother Nature smiled upon the first race of Mike Caldwell’s popular race series and dumped a whack of fresh snow on the Gatineau Hills the week of the race...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Top 5 Christmas Songs of all time

Having worked a number of Christmas seasons in retail over the years, Christmas music was shoved down my throat very early in the season and most of it was really, really bad. It's not surprising that I have a particular distaste for most of what you hear on the radio or in stores.

I won't list my all-time LEAST favourite Christmas songs as there are far too many, however I do have a small favourite list of Christmas songs. All are original songs by these artists that you will very rarely hear in any store while Christmas shopping or on the radio.


#5. Christmas Lullaby by Shane MacGowan. Best known for another Christmas song with the Pogues, but this is worthy of a top 5 as well.

#4. Merry Christmas I don't wanna fight tonight by the Ramones. They've always had a sense of humour.

#3. Christmas in Prison by John Prine. "Turkeys and pistols carved out of wood" it.

#2. Christmas in Washington by Steve Earle. This is a duet that I just heard with Joan Beaz that I'd never heard before. Very haunting.

#1. Fairytale of New York by The Pogues. A brilliant timeless classic. The video below is great, but I also like this live version.

Thoughts?...have I left out any?

TNF50 video: Caitlin Smith

Last Wednesday I posted a video that JB Benna took of Geoff Roes and Uli Steidl racing at TNF50. Just as equally impressive was La Sportiva Mountain Running Team member Caitlin Smith who won the women's race.

Check out the smooth power that she demonstrated in this video...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Tough night last night as we lost Cody. Very sudden. He was 13 and a half years old, but still behaved like a puppy at times. Definitely not expected.

I ran my first dogsled race a number of years ago in Eldorado with Cody in lead, and we have also raced together in Bancroft, Marmora, Kearney, Fort Kent Maine and Craftsbury Vermont.

Dispite his serious nature and being all business most of the time, Cody had a sense of humour as well. Once at Marmora, the conditions were very icy and the sled flipped on a corner. I hit a snowbank hard and couldn't hang on to the sled. Cody looked back at me and smiled as he picked up the pace and left me to run the mile to the turnaround point at the aid station where he was happily hanging out and rolling around in the snow.
While Cody hasn't raced in a few years now, he enjoyed his retirement and still had a good year of recreational dogsledding last winter.

Cody was a great lead dog and great friend, who will be missed by all of us in the pack.
Kearney Dogsled Race...

Fort Kent Maine...Hanging out after a game of hockey...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Week of Dec 7 - 13

Training Summary:
~ The snow and snowshoes has been a good thing for my knee this week. A little softer.

Total # of hours this week: 2:26
Total # of runs this week: 7
2009 total # of hours: 533:35
2009 total # of days: 358
2009 total # of runs: 435
Streak: 7,292 days in a row
Training Log Details

Friday, December 11, 2009

Canadian ice climber dies

I'm not a climber myself, but I've always been fascinated by the sport and could relate to the passion involved. If you check out our wall of books at home, we probably have almost as many climbing books as running books.

I was saddened to hear that Canadian climber Guy Lacelle died yesterday in an avalanche in Montana. Guy was a very well known climber and was a member of the La Sportiva Climbing Team.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nov 30 - Dec 6: Inspiration from Uli and Roes

When you're injured and only shuffling 20 minutes each day, all you want to do is just get out on the trails and fly again. My knee injury continues to improve, but it will be a little while still before I'm running full tilt again.

Luckily, I stumbled across this great footage of Uli Steidl and Geoff Roes hammering at TNF50 this past weekend. While it wasn't quite like being out there on the trails yourself, it was certainly the next best thing.

Thanks JB, Uli and Geoff. Very therapeutic. Enjoy!

Training Summary:
Total # of hours this week: 2:21
Total # of runs this week: 7
2009 total # of hours: 531:09
2009 total # of days: 347
2009 total # of runs: 427
Streak: 7,285 days in a row
Training Log Details

Saturday, December 5, 2009

No Western Love For Me

The Western States 100 gods were not smiling upon me today. The lottery has taken place and doesn't look like my name got pulled. With a 1 in 5 chance of getting in, I'm not really surprised, but it was fun to think about.

There were over 1500 runners trying to get in and I just can't help but think that there is a better system than what was implimented this year. To be eligible, it just amounted to a click of a link and your name was put in the draw. No real commitment. Kind of makes you wonder how many people just signed up for the lottery on a whim and have no real interest in actually running. Taking credit card information and making it manditory to have completed a 100miler previously would have been a good start in weeding out the people who may not be serious in actually running it. There has been lots of discussion about WS100 on various other blogs recently and what they should have done. I'm sure there will be plenty more discussion in the future too.

Oh well, maybe next year. Yeah, I'm a little disappointed, but certainly won't loose any sleep over it. There are lots of other great races to plan for which I'm sure will be just as, if not more, exciting.

Now, if I can just get my knee healed up and can start training hard and planning for what that next race is going to be.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New SHA website launch

I'm pleased to announce the launch of the new and improved website for Spafford Health and Adventure.

It's been a great deal of work, but I'm finally reasonably pleased with where it's at. The fresh look is quite different from my old website with a number of new things added. The biggest change is that I now can offer an online store for the Canadian Sales of Dion Snowshoes as well as for purchasing Spafford Health and Adventure Coaching Services. Shameless plug: if you know of anyone who could benefit from either, please feel to forward my website on to them.

There are still a few things that need to be tweaked with the site, including race pages for the Sydenham Fall Trail Run and the upcoming Snowshoe Race, but I plan to have those added in the near future. Check back often for updates.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Week of November 23-29: Waiting for a Green Light

Western States 100 Lottery:
This weekend may find me glued to the laptop a little more than normal. The Western States lottery takes place on Saturday and I’ll have my fingers and toes crossed that I get drawn. I’d love to get in and the race will be the focus of the year if I do. With about an 18% chance of getting in, I’m not holding my breath though.

North Face 50:
Also of interest this weekend will be the North Face 50. Should be an awesome race and will be interesting to see how it plays out. Look for Uli Steidl and Geoff Roes to battle it out. Canadian darkhorse Jason Loutitt is racing as well and could surprise many with a high placing. With $10,000 on the line for the win, it’s sure to be a battle.

Some encouraging runs for me from this past week. Continue to see improvement, but resisting the urge to rush back too quickly. Knee is more stiffness now as opposed to pain. I’ll probably take another week of 20mins per day and then hope to be given the green light to start increasing. My quads seem to be getting stronger and more balanced, and my knee seems to be tracking better in my runs. I’m also able to run faster than I have been with less discomfort. All good. Onward.

Total # of hours this week: 2:21
Total # of runs this week: 7
2009 total # of hours: 528:48
2009 total # of days: 340
2009 total # of runs: 420
Streak: 7,278 days in a row
Training Log Details

Friday, November 27, 2009

iRunFar Gear Giveaway

I just noticed a post on Bryon Powell's site that is definitely worth checking out.

iRunFar is giving away a whack of gear for those who sign up for a draw. No skill testing questions or anything else. It's open for Canadian readers too, so go take a peak at some of the great stuff and register.

Contest closes on December 4, 2009.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Week of November 16-22: Injury Status

My knee sort of hit a low point on the weekend. Just as is usually the case with injuries though, once you think it’s never going to get better you begin to get some encouraging signs. This was definitely the case once again with me over the past few days. I’ve stepped up the rehab exercises, stretching more, icing more, seeing Greg more often for treatments and trying to have a positive attitude.

I’m now on day 47 and beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The tough part will be staying the course and not jumping back into training too soon.

Total # of hours this week: 2:20
Total # of runs this week: 7
2009 total # of hours: 526:27
2009 total # of days: 333
2009 total # of runs: 413
Streak: 7,271 days in a row
Training Log Details: click here

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Snowshoe Magazine: Bring on the Snow!

Welcome back to another season at Snowshoe Magazine!

We are excited about the change in season and what is in store. As with previous years, Sara and I will once again be posting regular blogs here about our winter activities with a focus on Snowshoe Running and Racing. We thought we would start off by giving you a quick update of what we’ve been up to over the non-snowshoe season.
>>>

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Featured Workout

iRun Magazine features one of my workouts on David Grant's 'Up to Speed' Blog this week. Click here to see the the recommended workout.

Outpost Magazine Article

The November/December 2009 issue of Outpost Magazine is on the newsstands now and features an article entitled The Traveller’s Trail Running Series.

This was the third part of the series that included great trails for runners to check out worldwide. I was interviewed by Outpost about the Adirondacks for this piece.

The article offers some good tips and trail descriptions of what to look for if planning to run Mt Marcy, which is one of our favourite runs while in the ADK’s.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Week of November 9-15

Continued easy jogging on grass this week with lots of rehab and ice.

Total # of hours this week: 2:20
Total # of runs this week: 7
2009 total # of hours: 524:07
2009 total # of days: 326
2009 total # of runs: 406
Streak: 7,264 days in a row
Training Log Details: click here

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Free Beer!

Well, not exactly, but now that I've got your attention...

There was some discussion on EJ’s blog recently about her love of coffee and about possibly giving it up. That sort of got me thinking about my own habits of enjoying good coffee and good beer.

It’s funny, when I was younger I used to indulge in larger quantities of both, but now I find that this is much less appealing than if I just have good quality coffee or beer. Sara refers to me as a bit of a coffee and beer snob:)

Seriously though, to start with, I can’t understand people who drink large quantities of Tim Horton’s coffee. To me, Tim Horton’s is worse than even McDonald’s coffee….and McD’s coffee is certainly no roaring hell!

Give me a good dark roast from Hillside, Multituli or Kicking Horse any day and I’m happy with limiting my coffee intake to one each morning. Okay, sometimes two on weekends.

The same goes for beer. You could offer me several name brand beers like Blue, Canadian or Bud light, and I would gladly turn them down in exchange for one good dark ale or stout. My friend Peter often refers to the above mentioned beers as ‘Weasle Piss’ and I tend to agree. Give me a Guinness, Smithwicks or Muskoka Dark any day.

The problem of course with liking a good quality beer however is that they do tend to be a little more expensive. Given the fact that my taste buds are more satisfied with a more flavourful beer, this all evens out though.

There has been a recent trend in the Canadian market to offer quality beer at a more competitive price. After all, the only reason that Molson’s and Labatt’s products are so expensive is to pay for their slick advertising campaigns. It certainly isn’t due to their beer being any good;)

During the summer months, I do like to enjoy a lighter beer and have discovered PC Honey Red. Yes, that’s President’s Choice. The same noname brand that makes grocery items. This is an excellent beer that I would challenge anyone to compare with a Sleeman’s Honey Brown. The best part is that it is considerably less expensive.

Another recent discovery, or re-discovery, was Upper Canada Dark. This is an excellent Dark Ale that I used to have on occasion a number of years ago. However, I just accidently found out that it is now being marketed as a discounted beer. Yippee!!! Who knew? I certainly didn’t. When did this happen? This is an extremely good dark ale brewed in Canada that compares favourably to English or Irish dark ales, but at a fraction of the price.

Okay, maybe I’ll treat myself to a second coffee this morning….and I’m also looking forward to an Upper Canada Dark this evening. Cheers!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Week of November 2-8

Autumn is a wonderful season to run...okay, actually every season is a wonderful season to run;)

When I was in high school, it was my favourite time of the year because it meant cross country running. Running the trails around my parent’s farm and racing cross country in my early years as a runner led to a long term love of trail running. This laid the foundation for my passion for trail ultras today and wanting to spend as much time on the trails as possible.

OFSSA Cross Country is the Ontario provincial high school cross country championships. It is just an incredible meet to watch, both in terms of the size of the fields (250 runners in each of six divisions), but also the caliber of competition. I was particularly interested this year and followed the high school season closely as there were some really strong runners and teams from our little corner of the world who were competing.

Sydenham is a very small community, but their High School Senior Boys team ran incredibly well to win the silver medal this past weekend. Sydenham’s top three runners all finished in the top 30 (Jeff Archer/10th, Rob Asselstine/22nd, Dylan O’Sullivan/28th with Eliot Leydonhorst and Chris Hull rounding out the team). This is just an incredible performance for a school of this size. Congrats guys.

Aside from being strong runners, I’ve met Jeff, Rob and Dylan and they are all super nice guys too. Jeff and Rob volunteered to help out with the Kingston 5Peaks race that I organized last spring (on a very wet and nasty day), and Dylan is actually Sara’s cousin so I’ve gotten to know him pretty well. It’s also very neat to see someone like Jeff finish so well at OFSSA as I remember when he took one of the kid’s running clinics I instructed when he was quite young and only in public school. It will be pretty interesting to see what these guys all do during the upcoming track season and years to come.

Congratulations are also in order for another small school. Ernestown Secondary School is where I went to high school in the early 1980’s and also coached during the early-mid 1990’s. We had some strong teams during this period, many of which were led by the Murphy Brothers, but I believe that the highest any of our teams finished at OFSSA was 8th. The 2009 ESS midget girls team capped off a great season with an impressive 6th place showing. Great job!

Mountain Masochist Trail Run 50m:
Geoff Roes continued his record setting year in beating Dave Mackey’s old course record by 20mins. What a year he has had. Canadians did very well with Gary Robbins finishing third and Adam Hill and Glen Redpath tying for seventh. Tamsin Anstey from B.C. won the women’s race.

Pinhoti 100m:
Karl Meltzer of the La Sportiva Running Team picked up yet another 100mile win on the season. I’ve lost count how many 100’s he’s run and won this year. Just a machine.

Stone Cat 50m:
This is a great race and I’d really love to get back down to it some time. I ran it a few years ago, and didn’t have a particularly good race, but I learned a lot about the distance. I loved the course and remember the volunteers just having way too much fun on the course. The thing I remember the most was when I was going through a rough patch and feeling like I was going to puke (what’s new?). I was promptly being threatened by someone with a perogee on a skewer while being told to ‘eat the perogee!’. Fun race. This was also where I met Bryon Powell and remember running with him for a while on the third loop, then being dropped by him after he took a snort of Jack Daniels at an aid station. Who knew? has a couple of good reports on both Stone Cat and MMTR here.

Ozark Trail 100:
The race came and went. I was looking forward to it, but got injured a couple of days after registering for the race and booking my flight. I’m curious to see how the race went as it sounded like an incredible course and strong field of runners. I haven’t seen any results yet, but they should be posted on their website soon. (Note: early results are now posted here)

Training Week Summary:
Not much exciting to report with my training this week. Just a steady diet of 20minutes of easy running each day to keep my streak alive and allow my knee lots of time to repair. I’ve been religiously doing my leg rehab exercises too. I seem to be noticing a slight improvement over the past few days, which is a good sign. Looking forward to testing it more and increasing some over the next week.

Total # of hours this week: 2:56
Total # of runs this week: 7
2009 total # of hours: 521:47
2009 total # of days: 319
2009 total # of runs: 399
Streak: 7,257 days in a row
Training Log Details: click here

Friday, November 6, 2009

Western States 100 lottery

Only 29 days remaining until the Western States 100 lottery.

I put my name into the hat as this is the granddaddy of all 100 mile races. With it being so difficult to get in to, I figured I'd best start trying now.

Western States is conducted along the Western States Trail starting at Squaw Valley, California, and ending in Auburn, California, a total of 100 miles. The trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn.

If I was able to get in, this would certainly be the focus race for 2010, however if not, there are plenty of other races to get excited about.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Weeks of Oct 19 - Nov 1

Banff was incredible... but back to reality now.

I had some good chances to test out my knee during some longer and tougher runs last week. After doing so, I pretty much came to the conclusion that I wouldn't be able to race in the Ozark Trail 100 miler this coming weekend. I had still held out hope that there might be a chance as I had recieved some ART and Laser Therapy, however it just doesn't seem like it is strong enough right now to try and run 100 miles.

I'm not really devastated about this from a race aspect as the signs over the past few weeks were pointing in this direction anyhow. The frustrating part though is that I had paid the non-refundable entry fee and had already booked my flight. I was able to get a small credit from the airlines but after penalties it only amounts to about $100 towards a future flight within the next year. Oh well, lesson learned. Next time book with cancellation insurance.

This week has been bad for other news on the race front. Aside from not being able to run OT100, I also found out that the 2010 BHP Billiton Rock and Ice Ultra has been cancelled. So sad, and aside from feeling bad for race director Scott Smith, and competitors and clients JD and David, I am also feeling further blahs for myself as I was hoping to head back up to run again.

So with all of this happening, I find myself pondering what's next. I guess I need to get healthy first which is key.

With all this gloomy recent race stuff, I should make a point of mentioning a few strong races and highlights that shouldn't be overlooked. First, of course, there was EJ's and David's (and Kim's) races at the Sydenham Fall Trail Run. Congrats again guys. Great races!

Also, a big congrats to one of my clients Michelle, who ran her very first marathon in New York City this past weekend. Michelle mentioned that the crowds were overwhelming and the last few miles tickled, but that she finished it! I loved it when she told me when she crossed the line she said "Never again", only to start thinking about ways that she could have run faster during the drive home. Way to go Michelle! She was still walking a little gingerly on Tuesday, but had a huge smile on her face to go with her finisher medal.
* * * * *

Training Summary (Oct 19-25):
Total # of hours this week: 6:31
Total # of runs this week: 7
2009 total # of hours: 511:08
2009 total # of days: 305
2009 total # of runs: 385
Streak: 7243 days in a row
Training Log Details: click here

Training Summary (Oct 26-Nov1):
Total # of hours this week: 7:43
Total # of runs this week: 7
2009 total # of hours: 518:51
2009 total # of days: 312
2009 total # of runs: 392
Streak: 7250 days in a row
Training Log Details: click here

Monday, November 2, 2009

2010 Rock and Ice Ultra - Cancelled

I was shocked, saddened and disappointed to find out today that the Rock and Ice Ultra had been cancelled for 2010. There were many thoughts and feelings going through my head when I read the emails and blogs about this decision.

I felt bad for Rock and Ice Race Director Scott Smith as he had built this event in three short years to be one of the premier winter races in the world. Rock and Ice is a very unique event with a strong field of international competitors. Scott had big plans for the race on the world scene and I only hope that this is a small blip and that he will be able to resurrect the race again in 2011.

The two competitors who I felt really bad for were David and JD. They had dreamed about this race, planned for it, booked flights, bought expensive gear and were training with the goal of competing in this life changing race. To them I feel truly very sorry that they won’t be able to race in this incredible event that they had set out to.

Lastly, I felt as though I had some unfinished business of my own at Rock and Ice after last year. I had hoped to have the opportunity to return again this year and have a great race. This is a race that really got under my skin and will be tough to replace.

So, now it’s back to the drawing board for us Ontario folks. There are still plenty of exciting winter events to choose from. We all will just need to do some research and see what fits best for each of us.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

More Banff

The second half of our time in Banff just seemed to get better and better each day.

On Monday while Sara was busy doing her presentation at her conference, I decided to take off on a slightly longer run to test out my knee. I still had hopes of possibly running the OT100 on November 7, so thought this would be a good chance to see how things felt. We had picked up the book ‘Mountain Running in the Canadian Rockies’ by Bob Walker which is a must get for any runner visiting the Banff area. Upon consulting with the book, as well as with Leslie and Magi, I eventually decided to do Sulphur Mountain.

In the book it recommended running in a counterclockwise direction which would make for a more gradual climb and enjoyable downhill. I somehow got turned around when I started the run though and spent an hour touring around the bottom of the mountain not sure if I was on the right trail. I ended up getting frustrated and decided to run straight up from the gondola. I knew this would be a more difficult climb, but the switchbacks, unlike the ones in the Adirondacks, allow for a more gradual ascent. Once again, the footing was good at the beginning of the run, but I eventually needed to switch into my microspikes to get good footing with the ice and snow up higher.

Once I made it to the top of Sulphur Mountain, I was treated to absolutely no view. It was very cloudy and I couldn’t really see a damn thing. The immediate area around was nice enough and I just had to imagine how spectacular of a view it would have been if it had been clear. With the summit being at 7,415 feet, I had 2,300 feet of climbing in addition to the extra climbing that I did during the first hour of my run. My knee wasn’t very happy with me today, but this was just a great run and what my soul truly needed.

On Tuesday, I arranged to do a run with my friend Magi who is the Marketing Director at the Canmore Nordic Center. The Nordic Center is a beautiful facility that hosts miles and miles of incredible trails. This is where many of the national cross country ski team train. They are already skiing on snow. In addition to this early season skiing, they have 6km of lit xc ski trails and a paved 10km loop for roller skiing during the off season. I was amazed when Magi told me that they actually harvest snow during the winter season and store it in a shaded area, and then cover it up with wood shavings for the summer. They can then uncover this snow in the fall and build a small track so that athletes can get in some early season workouts on snow. Remarkably, if my memory is right, they only lost about 30% of the snow that was harvested. The Nordic Center also hosts mountain biking and mountain running races, including the Canadian Mountain Running Championships.

During our run, I was shown all of this incredible facility, while running in ankle deep snow the whole time. The trails were rolling and beautiful, with the mountains always in view near by. Magi also took me on some new single track technical trails that they had recently made. It was a great run in such an amazing place. Thanks again for the tour Magi.

For our final day in Banff we decided to take Leslie’s advice and run out Lake Minnewanka. Leslie had told us that there were great views the whole time and that it got very remote early on. We were certainly not disappointed and were treated to one breathtaking view after another. We knew this was going to be a great run, when we arrived in the parking lot to see 3 adults mountain goats and a baby. We weren’t sure what to make of them, but they only wanted to lick the salt off of our car. They were very interesting animals to see up so close and weren’t at all scared of us.

Once again, we were running on snow most of the time for this run. This seemed like a pretty wild area after only a few kilometers. We weren’t too concerned about bears in this area due to the time of the year and climate, but we were a little nervous when we noticed some cougar tracks in the snow. Our run started with bright blue skies shining over the high peaks and reflecting off of the equally bright blue lakes. Just an amazing view. The terrain was quite rolling in places with a few long climbs and technical trails more like what we are used to in our beloved Canadian Shield around our home. It was very difficult to turn around as we kept just wanting to go around the next corner and then the next. Our goal is to come back sometime and run the entire trail point to point.

On our return trip, the weather changed dramatically and the clear skies were replaced with cloud and heavy snowfall. Ah, winter is here even though we won’t be running on good snow back home for another month or two. Lake Minnewanka was certainly a highlight run of our trip and was a perfect way to end our vacation.

Returning to Ontario was a little disheartening and left us feeling a somewhat hollow. The mountains can have such an impact on a person and leaves you longing to return. Arriving into Toronto was a bit of a culture shock. The hustle and bustle was just too much for us. How can people live in a city like this when there are pure places like Banff that exist?

The first day of returning home was the toughest; however we quickly got back into our regular routine and had a nice outdoor dinner in our firepit, while sharing a beer with the dogs. My heart was still in the mountains, but it was nice to be home...for now.

View, or lack of, on Mt Sulphur...Canmore Nordic Centre...
More friends...
Lake Minnewanka...

Check out Sara's report and photos

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cataraqui Trail work

Work will begin soon on parts of the Cataraqui Trail near Camden East, Newburgh and Sydenham. Portions of the trail may be temporarily closed while trail surface improvements are made, advises the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority. The trail management board and the Lennox and Addington Snowmobile Club are spending $36,000 and $22,000, respectively, to complete the work. Fifty per cent of the money has come from the National Trails Council; the remainder was raised locally. The work, to place a stone surface on the trail, will be done on a 12.4-km stretch of the trail from Hogan Road to the Boyce Island Bridge on the north shore of Sydenham Lake and on the 3.2-km stretch from Curl Road west to Camden East.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hello From Banff....sell our stuff!

We've been here since Thursday and are having a great time. Sara's conference doesn't start until Monday, so that's given us lots of time to enjoy the sights, get some nice runs in and visit with friends (who have provided us with great tips and great food!).

Sara and I are unfortunately both fighting some frustrating injuries right now, so are not running as much as we originally had planned. We've been making the most of it though and searching out unique runs in areas that expose us more to the off the beaten path gems. Words don't describe it here and our pictures do not do it justice. Truly magnificant and majestic.

After about 5minutes of pondering once we arrived, we've decided to stay here. So, please sell all of our stuff and come visit;) You'll find us somewhere in the mountains with big smiles on our faces:)

Here is a sample of a few of the things we've seen so far.

Lake Louise from partway up Little Beehive...
Downtown Banff...
Running up Little Beehive...
Running into Johnson Canyan and the Ink Pots... Rugged wilderness into Bow Glacier...Peyto Lake...
Bow Lake...
Making friends with the wildlife...
Truly Canadian...
Sara will be busy with her conference over the next few days, but is still hoping to get out on the trails and in the mountains as much as possible this week.

Thanks very much to Keith and Leslie, Gene and Sue and Magi for great food, great company and great trail tips. Oh, and Phil too for some good tips as well even though we missed him on our trip.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sydenham Fall Trail Run - La Sportiva Report

La Sportiva posted a great photo of Jodi Wendland's final sprint to the finish to get her course record (and bonus) at the Sydenham Fall Trail Run. For report and photo, please click here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sydenham Fall Trail Run - Record Field and New Course Record

Congratulations to everyone who took part in the 5th Annual Sydenham Fall Trail Run held on Sunday, October 18, 2009.

A record number of 250 participants competed in the 8km trail race along the north shore of Sydenham Lake on the Cataraqui Trail. The weather was perfect and the fall colours were at their peak.

Defending champion Jodi Wendland had the performance of the day breaking her own course record by 5 seconds in winning the woman’s race in a time of 30:45. Wendland collected $100 cash for the win and an additional $50 for the new course record. Margarita Sviajini finished second in a time of 32:47, followed by Nancy Coke in third in 33:49.

2008 men’s champion Paul Chafe also successfully defended his title winning the men’s race in a time of 26:52. Chafe was followed by Rick Hellard in 28:31 and Clive Morgan in 30:22.

A huge thank you to all of our sponsors for making this race possible:
Spafford Health and Adventure –
Dion Running Snowshoes –
La Sportiva Trail and Mountain Running Shoes –
TD Canada Trust – Bayridge Plaza
Stonehaven – Handmade items from Napanee, Ontario
Debbie McKeown Travel and Adventure Writing –
Sydenham Veterinary Services – Sydenham, Ontario
Running Room –
Trailhead –
Hillside Coffee Company –
Hansler Smith Ltd -
Loyalist Kids of Steel Triathlon –
Clearwater Massage Therapy – Sydenham, Ontario 613-572-2106
Peter Montgomery Studio –
Get Out There Magazine –
The Water Store –
Costco –

For complete race results, please visit

Thanks again for a great day and we look forward to seeing everyone again next year.

Derrick Spafford and Sara Montgomery
Race Directors
Sydenham Fall Trail Run