Richmond Olympic parkrun

If you’re not sure where River Road and Cambie Road meet, head for the shiny sculpture. It’s where the out and back route should start and finish, but there is currently a diversion in place at the far end of the route, and the alternative course starts a hop, skip and a jump South of there. 

The alternative course consists of a North-South out and back past the shiny sculpture, a South-North out and back as far as the path currently allows and then finishes with a second North-South out and back, so you pass the start / finish at 1km and 4km.  It makes for a social course, as you see runners two or three times on your way to finish line glory.

It’s a plane spotter’s dream. The run brief is punctuated by fly bys and there’s a sea plane terminus on the river, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to see at least one sea plane take off or land. 

After the run, more than a few people (both local and visiting) headed along to the nearby Tim Hortons for coffee and a chat, but if you’re after a few more miles and a few rather nice views, you could do worse than follow the parkrun course back out towards the sea.  After the diversion (which is short but features a few road crossings) you pick up a well groomed and essentially flat trail path which runs all the way down to Garry Point Park.

Near the start

Diversion bunnies

The end of the trail

View of Vancouver from Garry Park

A splash of colour

Fisherman’s Memorial Needle

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Not the Kamloops half marathon 

This morning, I did not run the Kamloops half marathon.

I suspect that making the call to cancel was difficult and only done after much thought, but also that it was one of those decisions which, once made, feels completely and utterly right.  We were given three options: rolling our entry over to next year; claiming a full refund; or donating our entry fee to United for BC Wildfire Recovery, and the pancake breakfast which would have been served to the runners was instead hosted for evacuees and those supporting them.

As it turned out, not going to Kamloops, though disappointing, did come with a silver lining or four.  It meant we were able to visit a quilt show in Summerland, saved me from a disgusting o’clock alarm call, allowed me to get away with a 10k pootle instead of a 21k hard effort*, and gave me the chance to make friends with one of the local moggies.


* I haven’t yet broken this news to my coach.

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Okanagan parkrun

Okanagan parkrun started just under a year ago (today was their 49th run), kicked off parkrun in Canada and resulted in my favourite guest blog courtesy of Abradysis. The original course ran alongside Mission Creek, but picturesque though that route was it didn’t withstand its first Canadian winter so the ED, Bill Justus, put his thinking cap on and found an alternative venue.

The new course is not-quite-flat, not-quite-out-and-back and tarmac*.  It starts with a clockwise loop inside the Parkinson Recreation Center** which runs around the pickleball courts*** …

What do you mean you’ve never heard of pickleball?

… and over a small stream.  You then turn left onto the rails with trails**** path for a slightly undulating out and back, run the clockwise loop for a second time and finish with a mercifully flat sprint through the car park*****.

Flatter than Nose Hill’s sprint finish

The course itself may be as different from Nose Hill’s as chalk is from cheese but the welcomes at both were fantastic…

Bill Justus

… and if my strava feed is to be believed, today’s RD, Jacqui Allison, stole the prompt start segment with a perfect 9:00.

* I registered tarmac. The course description says hard packed trail. Did I leave the gas on?

** sic

*** you what now?

**** this will eventually run all the way from Kelowna up to Vernon and will no doubt make an awesome point to point ultra

**** which is coned off during the parkrun

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Giant’s Head

Yay!  The smoke had cleared, so this morning, Abradysis and I hiked up this…

The local hill.

…until we reached this…

Abradysis waiting patiently for me at the top.

… to admire the rather super view.

I was here.

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The big smoke

Tomorrow, my training plan suggests* that I climb the local hill.  There’s just one fly in the ointment: there are wildfires galore in BC at the moment and though they’re miles away, the smoke has travelled.  This morning I played it safe and swapped 80 minutes of rolling trail for 80 minutes of eye-rollingly-tedious treadmill, and looking at the air quality index that might be the wise choice for tomorrow.

So many fires

So much smoke


* I’m on holiday. I’ve promised to stick to the spirit of the plan but given no assurances about following it to the letter.

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Dirty Feet: Vernon 10k

I don’t often want to slap strangers in the face with a wet fish but from time to time I’m tempted, and as the first thing to greet us as we arrived at the race venue was a trail runner saying “of course I’m running the 21k! Who would think it worthwhile to run anything shorter?”, I was sorely tempted yesterday.  Fortunately, customs regulations prevent me from bringing my own supply of wet fish into Canada, and I haven’t had the chance to stock up since.

It wasn’t an auspicious start.  I had entered the 10k on the basis that however hot the day, gnarly the trails or debilitating the jet lag, it was a short enough distance to remain fun.  My sister had entered the 5k to kill time while I deserted her.  The 21.1k, though admirable, was not for us.

We wandered down the hill from the car park to the beach to pick up our race packs, and then pootled back up the hill again to the car.  Smugrunner was still there, still boring on about the pointlessness of the lesser distances, so after we’d pinned on our numbers, we headed back down the hill again to wait.


As 9.30am approached, I left Abradysis (whose 5k was setting off at 9.45am) and went to listen to the race briefing.  Think standard UK trail race briefing with the addition of the wild fire and snake warnings. Eek!

Lumpy. I stopped to take a photo halfway up the last big climb.

The route was beautiful, if a trifle lumpy, and as well marked as they come.  The field was large enough to always have someone in sight, but small enough that passing and being passed didn’t break up the flow.  I paused to admire the view on the last long climb…

… and then set about trying to catch up with the young lad just in front of me.  I managed that about a quarter of a mile from the end, though his sprint finish meant a photo finish to decide who came in first.

Photo courtesy of Abradysis, who finished about 10 minutes before me.

After I’d caught my breath, we hauled our aching bones back up the hill to the car, picked up our picnic lunch, and returned to enjoy the finish line atmosphere, which came complete with a prize draw (I snaffled a gloriously green North Face dress despite being one of the last numbers drawn).  One last trek up the hill to our car (had I mentioned that there was a hill between the beach and the car park?) and it was goodbye trail race, hello craft gin distillery.

Smugrunner aside, this was a fabulous race.  Friendly, varied and organised in such a way that you could run different distances to others in your party but still share the same experience.  I’m only sorry that the venues are so far away from London.

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Calgary: Nose Hill parkrun

I landed in Calgary at 2.40pm on Friday and flew out at 2.10pm on Saturday.  I never made it downtown, hadn’t even realised that I would be visiting during Stampede week and was so tired on Friday evening that eating a falafel wrap in the University of Calgary food court was as much culinary excitement as I could stand.  What can I say?  I’m a rotten tourist.

I’m also an extremely lucky one.

After waking up at stupid o’clock, I opted to take advantage of the cool early morning and run up to the start of the parkrun.

I said goodbye to the university…

…ran up and over the bus station…

…wished the humongous hares good morning…

…and crossed over the footbridge into Nose Hill park.

I then followed the regional trail up the hill, taking advantage of every photo opportunity going…

…and made sure to admire the views…

…read the “you’re not in Richmond any more” sign

…and slog up the hilliest hill of the morning.

That was the fruit cake.  The parkrun was the icing.

The course covers a tiny fraction of the overall park but captures the flavour of all the bits I’d seen.  Underfoot is a mixture of firm gravel path, loose gravel path and grass track taking you through the wide open grassland and past the mini clusters of trees.  There are some gloriously runnable downs, some enjoyable flats and a few reasonably benign ups.

And a finishing straight to die for.  Or rather to die on. Because that hilliest hill of the morning I mentioned?  That forms part of the final sprint.  Whichever evil mind devised that ending to the course deserves shooting. And then awarding with a medal, because if anything is going to make people hang around at the finish chatting, it’s being physically unable to walk away, which gives everyone lots of time to hear about the great post-parkrun cafe and the vacant slots in next week’s volunteer roster.

Thank you to everyone who made me feel so welcome, to Suzanne for taking some photos of me that I actually like and to Kim for her very kind offer of a lift to the airport.  You have an incredible parkrun and it was a pleasure to join you.

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