Canadian Running

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

- 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
LEFT Run Distrikt co-founder Melissa Offner and Rex Lavado
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