trail run map victoria

Gowlland Tod 10 km point-to-point trail run: Squally Reach, Joceyln Hill and Caleb Pike

Beautiful views on the trail

Beautiful views on the trail

Confession: I haven’t spent a whole lot of time running on trails lately, partly due to my crazy work and study schedule, and partly because I’ve actually been enjoying my urban runs and strength training workouts at home. Granted those urban runs are alongside the ocean in beautiful downtown Victoria, so they aren’t quite as mundane as your average pavement run, but I digress.

After Squamish, I didn’t hit the trails again for a long while. I wasn’t really sure if I’d even want to do an ultra again… but lately I’ve been really missing those long days out on the trails: the quiet serenity of the forest; the quad-busting, chest-burning climbs; the semi-controlled falls on technical downhills… (more…)

7 Trails to Run Before You Die: 7. Matheson Lake in Metchosin

photo 1(1)After almost eight months, I finally mapped the last trail I wanted to feature in my “7 Trails to Run Before You Die – Vancouver Island Edition” series. I was thinking about featuring Elk/Beaver Lake, but it didn’t quite meet my twisty-windy-fun-trail-with-nice-views criteria. It’s a great place for long, easy runs, but I find I get bored when I run on flat trails that don’t twist and turn through the trees. The trails around Matheson Lake, however, are anything but flat and boring. The trail loop isn’t very long (about 4 km), but you can tack on another 2.5 km by starting at the parking lot right off Rocky Point Road and doing a nice warm-up run down the Goose.

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What off-season? Winter workouts and upcoming trail races

Love fall trail running!

Love fall trail running!

While some athletes and regular-exerciser-type folks like to take a break from training in the winter,  I tend to ramp it up. Not really sure why — I know it’s good to take a break or dial it back every six to eight weeks or so to give your body a chance to rebuild and recover properly, but I feel more motivated to work out when the temperature drops.

It could be because the cooler temperatures make easier to go out (or stay in) to break a sweat, or because less fun and awesome things are happening (like beach days, barbeques, music festivals, camping, road trips, etc.) that get in the way of training, or because there’s so much good food around during the holidays and I feel like I need to keep working hard if I want to stuff my face with all the deliciousness. Whatever it is, I’ve been doing some kind of running and resistance training routine during the winter months for the past three years now, and it seems to pay off when race season rolls around again. (more…)

7 Trails to Run Before You Die: 6. Mt. Doug Park in Saanich

mtdougtopA “Top 7 Trail Runs on Southern Vancouver Island” list wouldn’t be complete without including at least one trail in Saanich. Although the Westshore and Sooke are home to some of my most favourite trails, Mt. Doug Park is edging it’s way up there as one of the best places to run in Victoria (in my opinion).

I usually come here on the weekend with my boyfriend and our dogs for a hike, and had never actually ran the trails until a few weekends ago. I was trying to find a good 8 k or hour-long route that incorporated some views, but ended up forgetting to restart my Garmin (ughhhh…) and we took a route back to where we parked that wasn’t quite long enough. The following weekend we set out sans dogs and iPhone camera and ran the same route (with a few more ks tacked on at the end) so I could map it properly. It turned out to be a great run–it was the perfect combination of distance, elevation, effort and scenery. Lucky for us, both days we chose to run it were beautiful and sunny.

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7 Trails to Run Before You Die: 5. Coast Trail in East Sooke Park

coasttrailinletThe Coast Trail in East Sooke Park is probably my favourite trail on Vancouver Island. I love its incredible ocean views, that fresh smell of salty-ocean-meets-rainforest lingering in the air, its many points of interest (deep water caverns, old fish trap cabins, ancient petroglyphs and soaring eagles, just to name a few) and its challenging terrain. I first ran this trail in the summer of 2009 when I wasn’t really doing much running; in fact, I had never entered a race or run farther than 10 km when I tackled this trail for the first time. I definitely think this trail made me fall in love with running; trail running, in particular. So if you’re a runner and you haven’t clamoured over its rocky, seashell speckled terrain, I highly suggested you do! And if you’re a non-runner, you might find yourself signing up for your first 10 km trail race after spending a few hours in one of the prettiest parks in the world. (more…)

7 Trails to Run Before You Die: 4. Mt. Quimper in Sooke

Top of Mt. Quimper

Top of Mt. Quimper

Sooke trails are hard to beat. In fact, I could probably come up with enough epic trail run routes to complete this blog series just in Sooke alone. But, since Sooke is a 40 minute drive from downtown Victoria, I decided to feature two of my Sooke favourites: the Coast Trail in East Sooke Park and Mt. Quimper in the Sooke Hills. This weekend we opted for Quimper as the weather wasn’t that great, and the Coast Trail can get dangerously slick in the rain.

You can take a few different routes to get to the summit, but the easiest to find (and the only one we’ve run) takes about 50 minutes to an hour to get the the top, and about 30-40 minutes to get back  down again.

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7 Trails to Run Before You Die: 3. Thetis Lake to Stewart Mountain

madeitIt took us two tries, but we finally made it to the top of Stewart Mountain, the next trail run I wanted to feature in this series.

This trail route was tough to find, especially for a couple of directionally challenged trail runners like Debbie and me. I had run this route once a few years ago going in the opposite direction for a race, and thought I might be able to recall where the trail to the summit was. Nope. Not only did we miss the turn off for the summit twice yesterday, but also on our first attempt we took another trail all together — “Look, those white arrows are pointing that way. Let’s go the other way!” Thank goodness for iPhones and Google Maps. (more…)

7 Trails to Run Before You Die: 2. Trestle Run in Goldstream Park

trestleThis week, I’m going to feature another amazing West Shore run: the Goldstream-campground-past-the-gold-mine-to-the-trestle run, or to put it simply, the Trestle Run.

This route is usually about 7 km, but of course, I forgot to restart my Garmin after stopping for a photo op, so my map and time for the run was off…. ugh! Luckily my friend Debbie kindly gave me her Garmin info for this post, although she ended up adding on an extra kilometre as the group took a wrong turn. But either way works! It’s nice to have so many options for routes and loops in this park. (more…)

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