Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

RUNNING IN THE WILDERNESS – Athletics Yukon runner Clarke LaPrairie heads toward the home stretch of his 14-kilometre run, the final trail run of the season around Chadburn Lake. The group held 21 runs this season on different trails throughout the city, ranging in distance.

Bracing the snowy weather for the final Athletics Yukon trail run of the season

Running on snowy rolling hills along the water on a chilly Sunday morning,

By Dustin Cook on October 16, 2017

Running on snowy rolling hills along the water on a chilly Sunday morning, Athletics Yukon held their final Coast Mountain Trail Run of the season.

Five brave runners — and two dogs — took on the brisk and snowy conditions during a 14-kilometre run on the challenging and narrow trails around Chadburn Lake.

This was the final run of a series that started in the first week of May, organizer Nancy Thompson said.

But Thompson said although this is the last organized trail run, she plans to continue to train on the trails right through the winter.

“You just power through,” she said. “It’s just a different kind of running.”

The increase in fat tire bikes on the trails has really helped flatten down the snow-covered tracks for the runners, Thompson said.

The initial trail run idea came to her when she started running back in 2007 and thought it would be a good idea to utilize the abundance of trails around Whitehorse, which would provide a change from flat, road running.

“We have trails here like you wouldn’t believe. We have 700 kilometres of the sweetest single track,” Thompson said.

With the number of trails, Thompson said the fun part is putting together different courses every week so there is always a new view and a new adventure on each run.

“The views are always beautiful, no matter what time of year you go,” she said. “It’s always gorgeous.”

The winter trail running for Thompson started as an experiment, she said. She held one on Boxing Day with only one other runner showing up.

They were running in places with snow up to their waist, she said. But it doesn’t stop them.

“Being on the trails, it’s therapeutic,” Thompson said. “Just feeling the earth.”

Thompson said more and more it is starting to be recognized that being out in the calm and tranquility of nature, surrounded by trees is cleansing — even if it is while trekking through the snow on a 14-kilometre run.

The final run course took the athletes around Chadburn Lake up and down the rolling hills on Juicy, Girlfriend and River Trails and then back home along the Chadburn Lake Trail.

This was the final of 21 trail runs throughout the summer, with attendance ranging from 15 to 50 at the weekly events, Thompson said.

She said the numbers are dependent on the weather and time of year, but they always have a good turnout.

During their weekly venture on different trails throughout the city — with different distances for each run — the group also tried out all four legs of the Yukon River Trail Marathon to give those competing a chance to check out the course ahead of time.

The marathon this year held on July 30 saw an out-and-back course finishing at Rotary Peace Park with 325 participants taking part in either the full marathon, the half marathon or the four-leg relay race.

This year’s marathon saw two runners finishing dead even to tie for first place — the first time in the marathon’s history.

Mark Davis from Calgary and Whitehorse’s Brendan Morphet both crossed the line at 3:24:41.

Whitehorse native Stephan Atmanspacher finished in third, over 27 minutes behind the two leaders in a time of 3:52:27.

Other trail running locations this season for the club included the Mount Mac ski trails, Boogaloo Heights, Copper Ridge and Lower Grey Mountain.

Thompson said the group usually does a run on the top of Grey Mountain as there is a series of trails up there, but did not fit it in this season.

One of the early trail runs of the season in May had to be cancelled on the Chadburn Lake Blue Trail as a grizzly bear was spotted on the trail. But that was one of only a few cancelled runs throughout the summer.

Having organized the events for 10 years and counting, Thompson hopes to continue the organized trail runs and get people out to see what the numerous trails have to offer.

It’s good for people who are new to Whitehorse, Thompson said while getting her two dogs ready to go for their Sunday exercise.

Gemma Clark, a new Whitehorse resident, joined the group for the run on Sunday to try out the trails.

Thompson noted it is a great way to learn the trails and run with a group so you aren’t alone in the bush by yourself on your first time.

“You always got someone to run with,” Thompson said. “It’s just fun.”

And with that, she took off in the snow with her two canine companions to make their way around the lake.

The organized trail runs will continue next spring.

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