The difficulty of a task is often a matter of perception.
For example, there’s Nancy Thomson’s idea of a breezy jaunt in the woods…
And then there’s the rest of us: leaning against trees, wheezing, nursing wicked leg cramps, or, in this reporter’s case — lost, sweaty and sick with a lung infection, wandering unfamiliar trails.
I should’ve listened to Claude Chabot.
“Last week’s run was advertised as six K and easy — it was actually 12 K and grueling,” said Chabot before Thursday’s race.
In search of the perfect photo, I left the marked trail behind.
I lost my way.
Jump ahead about 90 minutes.
That’s when I ran across the high school bush partyers.
They were sitting around a fire. They were drinking beer.
They pointed the way to my car at the Chadburn Lake day use area. I emerged long after all the runners had gone home.
I was spent, but the endorphins were kicking in – and it felt good.
And, in the end, that’s the point.
“People are just really enjoying it,” said Thompson, trailmaster and organizer of the Sportslife Trail Run, the brand new weekly outing for those that prefer off-road hoofing.
Under the auspices of the Boreal Adventure Running Association, which organizes the Yukon River Trail Marathon, the weekly run has taken shape with sponsorship support from Sportslife and Energy North.
It may take a few weeks for runners to grasp Thomson’s version of “easy, moderate, difficult, or tough as nails,” but she knew there was a demand for the club.
“I’m not the only one who loves running on trails, I know lots of people here that do it,” said Thomson. “So I thought it would be interesting to have a run every week at this time, and vary the trails, mix them up, you know, different terrain.”
Thursday’s Sportslife Trail Runs are the dirt-track counterpart to the venerable Tuesday Fun Runs.
“Running on pavement just sucks the energy out of you,” said Thomson. “When I’m in the bush I feel like I can go forever.”
“Why run on the side of the road when you can be here,” she added, pointing to the vista in the Chadburn Lake area.
“And there’s so much of it here — it’s endless.”
Aside from the appreciation of nature and all that, Thomson said that running on trails is just a more complete exercise — developing really good reflexes, “your body learns to sense where to land and when to land.”
“It makes your ankles and legs stronger, you’re up and down, undulating, you’re veering, climbing, and running down steep hills even. You’ll never get that kind of workout on a road.”
She concedes that it’s a little more treacherous as well.
“Of course it is, that’s the whole fun of it – it’s more demanding and challenging — but it’s also more interesting, you have to be more alert.”
“I kinda like running in the bush and thinking there could be a bear in there – I mean, this is where we live, right?”
Runners that have concerns about wildlife can benefit from running with the club.
“If you are apprehensive about those things, you know you’re on the trail with lots of others, lots of traffic.”
Thomson is planning to get a circuit of about eight trails going, so the club will get more than one shot at most of the courses before the season wraps up on October 4th.
Thomson’s working on something extra special for the finale.
“I’m going to plan something fun for the last one,” she said, with a grin. “Tough as nails.”
We’ll see what that means.
Here are the results of Thursday’s run at Chadburn Lake:
Distance: approximately 6.5 kilometres.
Difficulty: moderate (on the Thomson index).
1st Nancy Thomson, 35:35
2nd Jenny Trapnell, 41:04
3rd Claude Chabot, 41:40
4th Brian Mottus, 43:20
5th David Mills, 47:26
6th Elyn Jones, 47:26
7th Rebecca Zandbergen, 47:26
8th Oliver Pellegara, 47:26
9th Audrey Meyer, 47:59
10th Lorna Weeks, 48:49
11th Tory Russell, 49:55
12th Kirsti Wallace, 49:55
13th Steve Rose, 50:53
14th Rick Janowicz, 53:00
15th Megan Phillips, 1:01:04
16th Clare Robson, 1:03:09
17th Nicole Hulstein, 1:03:27
The Sportslife Trail Run meets every Thursday at 6:15 p.m. at various trailheads around Whitehorse.
Next week’s run takes the club into the Hidden Lakes area. Take the first left on Chadburn Lake Road, and drive to the parking area at the first Hidden Lake for the start point.
Check Athletics Yukon’s website for information on upcoming runs.