.: Ski XCOttawa.ca :: Skiing in Ottawa and Gatineau Park

Tom, Ed and the Great Horn.
By:  Tom McCarthy   (2008/10/29)


Every once in a while, something totally random and unexpected happens. When it is hilarious, and related to ski training even in the loosest sense of the term, then it’s worth writing about on this website. And when it happens twice – well, if it happens twice, it is definitely newsworthy.

About two weeks ago, my brother Ed was running through the park near our house – Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park. It’s quite a large park – about half the size of the Arboretum – and smack dab in the middle of town. There’s a lot of trees, a couple quiet roads for urban roller-skiing, and some trails and pathways. He was running at night, which we commonly do in that park, as we feel quite safe. I should note, at this point, that his hair is getting pretty long and curly. All of sudden, as he puts it, “it was like I was getting whipped in the face by tree branches” – but there were no branches around. He turned around but saw nothing, so brushed it off and kept running. After a few seconds, it happened a second time. This time, he turned around, and saw a massive pair of wings disappearing into the trees. He freaked out and ran home to tell me his story. After I picked myself up off the floor and wiped the tears of laughter from my eyes, I checked him out. The owl had actually drawn blood with his talons, in a few spots on the side and top of his head. I made him call the BC Health Line, who told him there was a tetanus risk and thought he should go to the hospital. So he did, and received a shot and a few guffaws upon the telling of his story. It was good party story fodder for the upcoming weekend.


Tonight, I went for a run in the park. It was a gorgeous night here tonight, and I ran in shorts and without a hat on. I remembered the lessons of Ed as I ran through his attack zone, so I carefully checked behind me for preying owls. I ran out of the park and forgot about the owl. On my way home, I ran back through the park on a road. Under a streetlight, and with no trees close by, I felt this scratchy pulling on my hair. It took me about a nano-second to freak right out and jump around, only to see what was clearly a large and in-charge Great Horned Owl turning back on me for a second go. It was pretty clearly lit under the streetlight, and as I screamed in a high-pitched girly-voice and waved my arms over my head like a teenie-bopper at an Avril Lavigne concert, he contemplated me with fierce and wise eyes – and then slowly retreated to a nearby tree. I freaked out some more, then ran home to tell Ed. When he picked himself up off the floor, he suggested I write this article. And here you are.

I’m not sure what I’ll do now for nightly running. Do I give up on the park, or do I wear a bright hat, or do I get a haircut? How will this owl limit my training? Only time will tell.

Ed McCarthy big hair
How could an owl resist Ed's big hair?

Interesting Reading. . .
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