Located in the Elk Valley area of the East Kootenay region of southeastern B.C., the city of Fernie has moved away from its rough and tumble mining roots into an alpine paradise with a strong history of skiing, mountain biking and world-class f ly fishing. Thanks to the ever growing network of trails, races, resources and running groups it now also has a burgeoning trail running scene. Although still largely undiscovered, Fernie is a trail running destination for the whole family, boasting a beautiful and wholesome town, a strong local cultural and art scene, and certainly not least – worldclass outdoor activities. The townsite was laid out by coal miners at the end of the 19th century in the crook of a doglegged glacial valley and is fully encircled by the Rocky Mountains. To the north of the city lie Mount Fernie, Mount Klauer, the Three Sisters and Mount Proctor. To the northeast is Mount Hosmer, to the east is Fernie Ridge, to the southeast is Morrissey Ridge with the stunning Castle Mountain crowning it and to the southwest are the various peaks of the Lizard Range. The Lizard Range is home to Fernie Alpine Resort, one of the largest ski resorts in Canada and widely regarded as a legendary mountain biking location, and Island Lake Catskiing lodge.
When the snow isn’t falling, the various forests, valleys and mountains offer a true plethora of running options to suit runners of all calibres, from glaciated peaks and ridge scrambles for Skyrunners, to bike paths and forest jaunts for those who prefer to stick to the valleys and f latter regions. There are over 300 kilometres of recognized singletrack trails in the region which would keep even the most diehard of ultrarunners entertained for years. Regardless of where you venture, you will be overtaken by the beauty and wild nature of the Rocky Mountains that catch your eye from every corner.
Due to the vast amount of terrain in the region you could spend a lifetime in the area and not run every possible trail or mountain. The quantity and quality of the terrain is overwhelming. As a sign
of the commitment of the area to encourage and promote running off-road, Tourism Fernie has a great online list of trail running suggested routes that will help point you in the right direction and will offer a great challenge for any visitor.
One of the best resources for running in Fernie is Stag Leap Running Co., a running resource started by a local husband and wife duo who have committed t hemselves to showcasing running in the Fernie region. They offer weekly community runs, posting routes on Strava, and have started hosting races in the region. Most notable is King of the Castle, a lung- and leg-burning 5k run with 677 m vertical up to Castle Rocks and one of the best views in town. The race is part of the annual Fernie Roll & Sole Festival, which includes a Trails in Motion Trail Running Film Festival night. Another new offering in 2017 is the Elk Valley Ultra, a 50k race with 2,800 m of vertical and 95 per cent on singletrack. The course has been designed to link up some of Fernie’s best trails and views and will likely quickly become a marquee event in the ever-growing trail ultra-scene in Canada. The race can be run solo, or as a three-person relay for the less masochistic.
With its quickly growing scene, Fernie will not remain a trail running local ’s secret for much longer.