As an alumni member of the XC Ottawa racing team, I thought that I'd contribute to the website with a couple of training sessions that I've done in the past month being in Western Canada. Unfortunately, I had to leave XC Ottawa after two years of training utopia because of scholastic reasons. Since moving out to Calgary last year to continue my studies at the university here, I have been exposed to many different training opportunities that would not have been available when I was back in Ottawa. That being said, there are also a number of Ottawa area workouts that have been sorely missed over the last year. While reading this article, I encourage you to be jealous of the opportunities that are available in Western Canada but also think of the quality of training on Gatineau Park trails, Experimental Farm double poling (!), Meech lake swimming/canoeing and much more. Each of the activities that I am going to talk about involve long slow days epic in nature, and they were all within a 2 hour drive from Calgary.
The first run that I embarked on was planned in the event of the ever illustrious "BC Day", the first Monday of every August, introduced in 1974 to recognise the pioneers of the "most beautiful place on earth" (or BC). The event was masterminded by another XC Ottawaian alumni David Zylberberg and Erik "Mountain Man" Carleton. To celebrate this event, the plan was to begin the long run at Upper Lake, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta, run on single track trails to the BC- Alberta border, along the Northover ridge that follows the border and then back to Upper Lake. The route was a 33km event with a decent amount of elevation gain. As an aside, this distance and elevation gain will probably be scoffed at by the Hard-core McCarthy brothers... see article "A Feat of Great Stupidity". The event was a huge success, with only one wrong turn, and all four participants completed the 6 hour epic run without bonking or incurring a sustained injury. The photographic evidence of the day is shown below, curtosey of Ian Murray.
Gavin, David, Erik and Ian.
The second run was another long epic day. The group was different than the first run, with only myself being the returning invidual for more distance training punishment. Fellow cross-country skier/rower extraodinaire, Chris Mamen, and my dutch office mate, Lucas Duits, joined me on this adventure. I knew that I wanted to do some sort of loop in the mountains that would cover around 30-40km with enough elevation gain to make the views worthwhile. We decided on a route that began at Lake Louise, went to Moraine Lake, and then back to Lake Louise! As it turned out, we couldn't have picked a better day for this event. After going on a short shore tour of lake louise, we started on the ascent to up to saddleback pass. For anyone who has been to the lake louise area, I would highly recommend a hike up to the top of fairview (the name discribes it quite well!) mountain. This gives another perspective to the lake and you are able to see the victoria glacier, the whole of lake louise and much of the surrounding area. We continued on through paradise valley, over sentinel pass and down to lake moraigne for a much needed jump in the lake to cool off and regain some energy for the long run back. After learning from Chris how to schmooze with the lady at the bar to fill up all our water bottles, we decided to try and find the trail for our return to lake louise. On the map, it appeared that the trail would join up with the highway a short ways down from Moraine Lake. Unfortunately, this trail was not to be found and we ended up running the length of Moraine Lake road back to Lake Louise. Being quite familiar with this road after skiing it many times in the winter, it is amazing how much more it hurts to run down than ski down! Our eccentric muscles definitely felt this section in the following few days. This event was a full 7 hour day of long distance training of unforgettable fun (see photos)!
Lucas Duits, Gavin and Chris Mamen.
Lucas and Chris waiting for Gavin.
Gavin taking off on them...
and a ski...
The final epic trip was one up to the Haig glacier. If you've read Alana's recent article it was quite a quite similar trip to what she described. It was my first time up at this training facility and I enjoyed every minute of my short 4 day stint chez CODA. The food was amazing and the skiing was spectacular which made me pumped to continue my training to get ready for winter snow. I was able to get in a 26hr training week of mostly long-slow distance which I think is my biggest training week of my career. There were no grizzly sightings, thanks to Mike Argue's constant yodelling on the run up and back. although we were well prepared with a can of bear spray each. I can't wait for my next glacier trip. Many thanks to team Yukon and Argue with whom I joined for the camp. A future XC-Ottawaian was up there as well, Colin Abbott, and it was nice to know that the future of the team is in good hands!
These are just a few of the training experiences that I have been able to take advantage of when living out here in Calgary. Even without the endless options in the nation's capital(!), I have been able to find some interesting workouts out here to keep myself occupied. Hopefully this article will encourage you to try some new and original training wherever you are living...!
Gavin on the Haig
Mmm, bear spay tastes like pepper.