New Crew Tack­les Trails

Run Distrikt have pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity to run­ners on Van­cou­ver’s North Shore to come to­gether; now they are head­ing to the moun­tains

Canadian Running - - CLUB SCENE - Alexan­dre Cyr is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor, orig­i­nally from P.E.I., now liv­ing and run­ning in Wind­sor, Ont. By Alexan­dre Cyr

Melissa Offner was lead­ing a fit­ness class in her stu­dio, Distrikt Move­ment, on the North Shore of Van­cou­ver when she be­gan think­ing of other ways to get peo­ple mov­ing in nearby com­mu­ni­ties. The idea of to start a run­ning club im­me­di­ately came to mind.

“In nearby Lower Lons­dale,” says Offner, “there are count­less run­ners, but no group bring­ing them to­gether.” The wa­ter­front com­mu­nity had yet to es­tab­lish a run­ning club, de­spite its abun­dance of recre­ational run­ners, shops and pic­turesque pic­turesque trails. Offner quickly took ac­tion. “In Septem­ber, my co-worker Jian Pablico and I talked of start­ing Run Distrikt, and in Oc­to­ber, we had our first group run. It has been grow­ing ever since,” she says.

With a bit of help from a friend, the club was fast es­tab­lished. “We needed a home base to start and fin­ish our runs,” re­mem­bers Offner. “A friend of mine, Rex Lavado, of­fered his bar­ber­shop as our meet­ing spot. Our group of 10–20 run­ners now con­gre­gates there on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noons while Rex is fin­ish­ing up with his clients. From there, he changes into his run­ning gear, and we leave as a pack for four to six kilo­me­tres if it’s a short run, or eight to 10 kilo­me­tres if it’s a long run.” No mat­ter the run dis­tance, Rex’s dog, Sugar, joins the group on the roads, as­sum­ing the role of club mas­cot. Run Distrikt fin­ishes as a group at the bar­ber­shop, and the nearby Glory Juice Co. pro­vides free cold­pressed juices for the run­ners. Offner partly at­tributes the early suc­cess of her club to its in­clu­siv­ity. “The main pur­pose of this club is to be so­cial – we want to fos­ter pos­i­tive in­ter­ac­tions and con­ver­sa­tions be­tween run­ners. When we run, we don’t stick to a spe­cific pace, be­cause there is a wide ar­ray of abil­ity within our group. Some of our run­ners are be­gin­ners, while another has com­pleted a 200k race.” For that rea­son, the runs re­main fun and un­struc­tured. They don’t re­quire at­ten­dance or charge per ses­sion, so it’s a drop-in type of sys­tem. On Tues­days, Offner posts the planned route on Strava so run­ners can be­come fa­mil­iar with the weekly chal­lenge.

This win­ter, Run Distrikt is em­brac­ing a new chal­lenge, ditch­ing the roads to tackle Lower Lons­dale’s beau­ti­ful trails for the first time. So far Offner has avoided the area’s ex­ten­sive trail net­work for safety pur­poses. She leads the runs by her­self, and feared the lack of a nec­es­sary sup­port sys­tem in the event of an in­jury. But, Run Distrikt has found a so­lu­tion. “We’ve part­nered with Van­cou­ver Run­ning Com­pany’s es­tab­lished run­ning club for a trail run,” says Offner. Their club is fa­mil­iar with the trails, and is equipped with the per­son­nel to tackle them safely.

The Run Distrikt leader is pleased that her some of her group mem­bers are now run­ning off-road for the first time. “The trails here are beau­ti­ful, and the com­mu­nity of trail run­ners is so in­clu­sive and friendly. I am stoked to have my group be­come a part of it,” she says.

LEFT Run Distrikt co-founder Melissa Offner and Rex Lavado

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