Canadian Running

Who Runs This Town?

- By Chantelle Erickson, Keith Glynn, Andrea Hill, Josh Kozelj, Madeleine Kelly, Stirling Myles and Jonathan Riley

Every community has people who make life better for its members, and the running scene has more than its share of “angels”—people who bring runners together, support a cause or just share the love. Here are just a few Canadians whose contributi­ons stand out.

we’d probably never race again. When asked about the race, most competitor­s don’t remember the hard moments; they remember streaming through alpine meadows, gliding through glades of wildflower­s as the sun rises. Ironically, the Heather Meadow section of the course had Bird pulling his hair out: another reroute to the course created the need to double back on the trail, making it no longer technicall­y a point-to-point. “Initially, I was sad, because they had to double back on that trail,” he says. “But there was a major silver lining in that: They got to see some of the most scenic pieces of the park both in daylight and at nighttime.”

In fact, nearly every runner recalls the Heather Meadow section as the most magical part of the course. “The stunning views and fields of beautiful wildflower­s were such a welcome distractio­n,” says Kevin Barata, who finished 18th—his second time racing Fat Dog. “And I was in awe of how gorgeous these alpine meadows are.”

Nights were both a highlight and a low point for Kate Butcher, who won the women’s race. Running at night presents a serious technical challenge, but also has its moments of magic. “Near the end of the course, at around 195 km, we were on a trail called Skyline I, which was a switchback­ing climb up to a ridge,” she recalls. “I was out on the ridge around 10 p.m., and it was a clear night with lots of stars overhead. Behind me, I could see all the bobbing headlamps of runners coming

up the switchback­s, and looking ahead, I could see the headlamps of runners coming down the road on the other side of the highway. It was a sweet little moment of feeling connected to the other runners out on course.”

The finish makes it all worthwhile—admittedly, especially if you’re finishing nearly three hours ahead of second place. “I never let myself think of completing the race until the very last kilometre, when I could actually see the finish line from across the lake,” says Verys. “Running those last minutes around Lightning Lake and thinking of all the hours spent on this beautiful course, crossing the finish line and realizing that I did it, hugging my pacer, crew, race director and race officials— these were my favourite moments of the race.”

“At the finish line, you see absolutely everything,” says Bird. “Elation, relief, joy, a lot of tears that are either pain or joy or a mixture of both. People collapse at the finish line, almost crawling across. To be able to stand on the finish line and welcome finishers through, to see them complete that journey, is incredible. People are emotional. Sometimes the emotions are so high, it’s almost like the runners don’t know how to express them. In this race, you can see people at their worst, and you can see them at their peak.”

Perhaps more important than the race is who you become because of the race. “You’ll emerge a completely different person,” says Verys. “Every race comes with a unique culture and history and community, and this one is absolutely worth all the pain that goes into it. You just have to do it.”

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