Canadian Running

Taking Flight

Trail runner Sean Hamilton moves west to the mountains

- By Madeleine Kelly

Sean Hamilton is a writer, runner and newly-minted trail enthusiast, thanks to his recent move to the west coast. “The hoka Speedgoat 5 has everything you need for the trails,” says Hamilton, who until recently considered himself a road runner. “When I do my first ultra, it’ll be my shoe of choice. The only surface I wouldn’t use it on would be the road.”

Hamilton’s life has seen some major changes in the past two years. He has relocated to Vancouver, the city he was born in but hadn’t lived in since he was young, picked up trail running, and started a new position with hoka as their West Coast Experience Representa­tive. “All of these changes started just before the pandemic, when I moved from Toronto to Mexico City,” says Hamilton. “I’d been in Toronto for seven years. At the time, I felt stuck. I had loved Mexico City and made connection­s there. The idea of being somewhere else was more powerful than the idea of staying in Toronto.”

Though Toronto wouldn’t be his forever city, Hamilton had loved its running community and his job at a creative agency that worked on movies, TV shows and ads. He’d enjoyed running cross-country i n high school, and his dad had been a middledist­ance runner. Hamilton decided to get back into running and joined Parkdale Road Runners. He felt drawn in by the community and became interested in racing and getting faster. “I’d still like to run a marathon in the 2:40s,” he says.

A few weeks into the Mexico trip, the pandemic forced him to return to Canada, heading to Vancouver to be with family. When he realized this wasn’t going to be a two-week pit stop, he took to the trails. “Anyone who has lived with their family as an adult knows that you need a bit of space,” he says. “The trails became my escape. I’d run for four or five hours at a time.”

Looking to further explore the trails and sort out the emotional residue of a big life change, Hamilton spent several months in the outskirts of Kelowna. “Trails were a place of solace—they were where I didn’t look at my watch and felt totally connected to my environmen­t,” he says. After his run, he would journal about his experience­s. “It was a daily process of keeping a log,” he says. “They were stream-of-consciousn­ess field notes.” Hamilton eventually turned these notes into a book, Running Through The Woods, The River Gentle On My Mind, which came out in 2021. For a long time, Hamilton felt private about his time spent on the trails, and had no interest in racing. But his perspectiv­e has recently shifted. “I’d protected my trail running a lot, and I didn’t want to make it competitiv­e,” he says. “Now, the curiosity of how good I could be outweighs that protective­ness.”

A longtime hoka fan (even before his entry as an employee), Hamilton will race in the new Speedgoat 5. “The Speedgoat has premium cushioning and support, as well as traction, thanks to the 5-mm lugs,” he says, “so I always feel in control. We have such a wide variety of trail systems in Vancouver, so you need a versatile shoe. The Speedgoat is great, no matter the surface. It’s also one of the most cushioned shoes in our trail lineup, and frankly, on the market, right now.”

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ABOVE Sean Hamilton

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