This month we would like to highlight long time Canmore resident and pillar in the nordic community Dave Rees. Dave recently had the goal to complete the 90 kilometre Oppet Spar, part of the Vasaloppet in Mora Sweden. The race took place on 26th February, the day after Dave's 80th birthday.
Unfortunately Dave was unable to complete his goal due to taking a bad fall 14km away from the finish. However, we believe that what he achieved was exceptional and that he should be very proud of what he did. There is no question that if he hadn't had the first fall, he would have most definitely finished the event.
Below are a couple of photos of him, the first one as he is about to load his skis into the start grid, at 06:40 that morning, and the second one was taken at checkpoint 4 near Risberg, 35 kilometres into the race.
Canadian Birkie, Feb 11th 2023
Third time of doing, second without pack, or ‘lite’. 55k. Rolling birch
landscape, lots of ups and downs resulting in a total elevation gain of
nearly 700m. Very different from where we live in Canmore. Clive at last
made the start line, his fifth time of trying. Natasha lining up to mash
her 31k, aiming to get under 3hrs. Clive with his first Canadian
Birkie, hoping to finish without injuring himself in around 6hrs. Me,
4hrs was my target, last year being 4.28.
Weather was marginal, with low snow levels and higher than normal temps.
However, the groomers had done a wonderful job on the Thursday and the
weather gods were in a favourable mood, with the morning temperatures at
-5C, and after midday +2C.
First or second start wave? First wave was billed at 3.30 or quicker. I
opted for towards the front of wave two. Mistake. For 5km we were
bunching, jostling, weaving and accelerating, to get past those who had
started in wave one but most likely finishing in 5-6 hrs. Quite fun, but
unnecessary stress for sure.
Up and down, around the bends, along the straights we go. Double poling
with ease and rhythm. Big grin on my face, as I sailed through all the
first three aid stations. I was trialing Hammer Perpetuem as my liquid
fuel and a big squeezey of Hammer Huckleberry gel, which I am actually
quite fond of. Both had their challenges - I had no idea how much I was
drinking as my liquid was in my hydration bladder in the back of my
pack, and the gel was just too cold to pull through the squeezy nozzle.
However, the bladder system worked very well for the act of drinking,
but the gel pack was clumsy and awkward.
Back to the fun I was having - which lasted two full hours. After this,
there was a very apparent temperature spike and the snow just changed.
For the worse. Flow stopped and hard work started. Over the second half,
I lost any advantage I had, finishing is 4hrs 14mins. There were
occasions when nice glide happened, but any flow was short lived. I
passed a couple of skiers who had stopped to rewax their skis, but I
seemed to be holding my own. 40-50km was hard, with a long stretch
alongside a fence line. Never seemed to stop! However, the 50k marker
was passed and the adrenaline started to flow. Fun time, though hard
work. I was very happy to see Natasha and the finish line.
Natasha finished a storming 2hrs 49m, very happy indeed. Clive completed
the 55km lite in 6hrs 01 min, very happy just to complete it. I raced
well, and as ever held my own over the course. I started off 14th
through the first checkpoint and ended up 11th in my age.
I only fell the once - whilst stationary at an aid station. Although the
plan was to not to use any stations, I fancied a cup of water at one of
them. I had the usual banter exchange as I skied in of ‘what do you
want’ ‘water!’ ‘Gatorade’ ‘ no, water’ ‘I have gatorade. You want
water?’ ‘Yes, please, water’ and then promptly got my skis and poles in
a tangle, face planting the snow ahead in the process. At least I gave
all something to brighten up their morning :) .
Once in the massive but draughty public tent, I realized I was in a sort
of heaven. The muffins had run out, the hot dogs not appealing but there
in front of me was a Costco box of Tetley tea bags and an urn full of
boiling water. The icing on the cake was the thermos of milk I had
bought myself in my drop bag. Happy Tim! Clive came in happy but pretty
tired, having had a wonderful ride. He had finally done the Canadian Birkie.
Great organization by the Birkie committee. Kudos to all. Not convinced
with all the viking costumes or the Viking Keep Fit warm up at the start
though. Work needs to be done with the start wave selection, as too many
start way ahead of their realistic finish time. It is a very much all
inclusive, all encompassing event which I would love to do again. But
next time sub 4hrs.
Here are some simple and important things to remember when taking of your cross country skis this season!! Also check out our video at the bottom of Strides Staff Member Scott showing you how to wax your skis using liquid glide!
- Skin skis and skate skis still need glide wax on their bases (think moisturizer for your skin). Liquid glide is super easy!
- Aim to glide wax every 40-50km
- Caring for your skin is also important to keep it in good shape
- Always clean your bases off before applying any wax
- Snow temps are slightly cooler than air temps
We are bringing our Athlete of the month series back for February… We started this blog series to showcase a local athlete connected to the store and community and ask them questions about their sport and learn from their experiences!
This month we are featuring Strides Staff member Anna Sellers who qualified to represent Team Canada in Europe this season at Open European Championships in Switzerland and IBU Cup in Austria for biathlon. We are very happy to see Anna racing well and representing her country again after many years of injury. Anna has been working with us from the very start of our store and keeps returning to us whenever she moves away for skiing. Even when she is on the road she is still our photo/social media expert and will always have a place with us at Strides!
What got you into xc skiing and biathlon?
I grew up in Canmore with parents who were very into xc skiing. I started off in Jack Rabbits, like many other kids who grew up in Canmore, and then continued into the Track Attack program with Canmore Nordic. I then started biathlon because I wanted an extra night of skiing because I enjoyed it so much when I was 12 years old.
What are your goals for biathlon?
My main goal for my sport is to be able to compete in an international competition at home. I grew up watching Beckie Scott, Sara Renner and Chandra Crawford medalling at world cups in my backyard and that is what inspired me to do the sport. I still want to be like them even now that I’m older :)
Tell us a little about your highlights of racing in Europe so far…
My favorite race so far in Europe has been the Single Mixed relay in Lenzerheide Switzerland. I was competing in a large field with a lot of strong athletes who are often at the World Cup. Despite slower skiing I was able to have the best and fastest shooting out of everyone in the race which I am very happy with! Other highlights of Europe have been seeing friends from other countries like the USA and Switzerland and also eating a lot of Milka and Haribo!
What’s next for the rest of your season?
After my biathlon competitions I will be competing in a 42k skate race in the Dolomites in Italy before returning back to Canada. After that I will have more competitions in Whistler, Revelstoke, Quebec, Silverstar and possibly Canmore… I will let you know if I’m back racing in Canmore ;)
Thanks for answering these questions for us Anna and good luck in the rest of the season. If you want to follow along with Anna’s racing check out her instagram @anna4036
Wednesday 9th November, Sedona, Arizona
Rain during the day threatening to stop tomorrow’s show. Not what we had
wanted for sure. Cast our minds back to February 2019, Rim to Rim to Rim
(Grand Canyon, R3) attempt ended in a massive snow dump. As ever with
these plans, they rattle around ones head threatening to pop out at a
Back in June of this year Brent, Arnie, Natasha and I were enjoying a
shared Canmore supper, shooting the breeze. Suddenly accommodation was
booked in Sedona, AZ, was booked. In an instance, a timeless flash,
enthusiasm and adventure took over and the R3 project was back in full
swing. Love it.
The timing had worked well, with Natasha and I taking two days off work,
being able to take advantage of Remembrance Day school closures and the
weekend. Most R3 attempts take place in November, cooler temps, more
stable weather, fewer people....
Our journey out was slightly marred with flight delay to Phoenix,
resulting in a late arrival. Poor nights sleep (travel rule list top ten
includes ‘bring your own pillow’) and a frustrating morning of intense
rain whilst trying to buy a simple wrap to eat on R3 day brought on a
hunger grump, but a fabulous feast with good friends later on saved the
day. The afternoon was spent packing the days fare. Cold clear skies
forecast for R3 day, and cool temps. Perfect. The Plan - 2am drive to
Grand Canyon, 4am run off down Bright Angel trail. 14.5 hr prediction.
In theory, Natasha and Arnie would pick us up. Love plans. Who knows
whether they will all dovetail into a perfect day!
Thursday 10th November.
Bed time was an unheard of 7pm. Getting up time 1am. Met Brent outside
his apartment at 1.50am, warming up the taxi - his prized Corvette. Off
we went, unbeknown to us in the wrong direction. Some 60 km east, we
turn back round to head west toward the Grand Canyon. Some 90 mins late,
at 5.30am, we hastily set off down a moonlit Bright Angel trail, at a
chilly -10C. Frost and ice adorned the funky steps which make up the
trail, mainly from the Phantom Ranch mules. We sidestepped, stepped
over, sometimes through the maze of yesterday’s storm, ice crystals
twinkling in our headlights. Slowly the sky brightened, and the moon
disappeared to be replaced by a weak sun. The rays caught the tops of
the majestic sandstone mountain tops of the Grand Canyon, the red rays
accentuating the red tops, as we continued our descent.
Headlights turned off in an hour, heading forever down through Indian
Garden, finally flattening out at River Resthouse at the Colorado River,
elevation a mere 700m above sea level, some 15km and 1300m lower than
our car. The descent was harder than we imagined, with the freezing
water and slippy wood bars. We noticed the trails were incredibly worn
from foot traffic and thousands of mule hooves, making the trails sunken
and rocky. It was hard running and I welcomed the self made rock plates
I had put in my shoes.
Head full of junk and chaos? Well, try getting to grips with the
geological timescale of the Canyon. Billions of years, something I
cannot comprehend. Guaranteed to sort out a messy head :)
However, first challenge to progress was breaking a running pole. Jammed
in between two rocks, snapped as I carried on running. A hasty repair
with tape provided me with two poles again, but to be used with caution.
We trotted through Bright Angel, Phantom Ranch heading north towards
our turn round point some 22km and 1750m climb. Just beautiful running,
the trails less worn, the canyon very different. We met a number of
hikers, but only one lone runner, on his way back to the South Rim on
his R3 quest. Cottonwood, Manzanita, Redwall, Supai, Coconino areas
trotted through up to North Kaibab trailhead, shrouded in yesterdays
winter storm. A snip over 7hrs. Brent did a quick slam on the sign and
headed back down. No stopping. It took me a while to catch him up, but
buoyed by the fact we were on our return journey the km clicked by. It
was a slow trot, but running nontheless. My legs had been pounded by the
first massive descent, and had taken me a long while to get them back. I
had not felt great, but I was slowly getting into my stride. I was
eating well (every 30 mins), staying hydrated and moving. We just missed
the legendary lemonade at Phantom Ranch, which mattered not, and we
headed out to Black Bridge to cross the mighty Columbia, back up to the
South Rim at 62km under our feet.
All was good, climbing well. We were treated to a fabulous lighting
display from a setting sun, and soon after a UFO-esq rising ball of
white light, as the full moon rose above the North Rim. Headlights went
on at about 7km to the end, but found the trail up hard. So many steps,
too few nice trails. The darkness swallowed us up, our meagre lights
just illuminating a narrow pathway in front of us. There was no
destination point to aim for. Just a black abyss to head up into. It
took us an age to finally see two waving lights high above us, Natasha
and Arnie welcoming us home.
I had taken the foolish decision to stop eating with 1.5hrs to go,
believing our destination point was not far away. However, the final 3km
was fueled by thin air alone. I took the wrong path at Cedar Ridge,
putting Brent in front and I just lost momentum. Even though the only
way was up, I was going down pretty fast.
I was a spent force, having gone from being strong to a messy train
wreck in the space of 15 mins. My hands were frozen, I was cold, feeling
decidedly worse for wear. No amount of willing seemed to end my never
ending black tunnel. I finished with a huge sigh of relief, a shivering
energy deficient shadow of what I had been some 90 mins previously.
72km, 3500m elevation/descent. Time to stop.
We were both bundled up into warm cars, whisked off to the local
McDonalds at Tusayan. Just closing, we used the bathrooms, my feet in
the sink, Brent with clothes everywhere. Very funny.
Natasha and Arnie presented us with souvenir T shirts - the logo was
fitting. An old man with a big pack on his back, finishing the Rim to
Rim to Rim. Exactly how I felt. The journey back in the car seemed as
hard as the final 3km in my mind, as I felt so ill, having to stop a few
times. The McD hot chocolate had not agreed with me. Anyhow, shower and
bed within 10 mins of getting in, then sleep.
What an adventure. A bucket list adventure for sure. So happy to have
finally got R3 done. It’s always big running with Brent. Big runner, big
personality, big power, big running, big heart. Loved it. All gear
worked well. However, as ever, another learning curve. I carried way too
much food with me. Should have carried chews, more Hammer gel and
definitely should not have switched from Perpetuem to Heed. Turned my
stomach upside down. Thank goodness my pole stayed usable and my carried
toothbrush was a total hit!
Total gratitude to Natasha and Arnie for making our pick up possible.
They did not manage to do their planned run, but still got a solid 15k
in. Great team, again.
Tim, Nov 12 2022.
Coach Tim’s Grand Canyon run, gear feedback:
Shoes: never do this, but out of the box Salomon Ultra Glides. Perfect.
I had inserted a home made rock plate. This worked extremely well.
Pack: Salomon Advanced Skin 12 litre
Hydration: 1.5 litre bladder, but not used. X2 500ml Salomon softflasks,
Katadyn softflask water filter.
Poles: Black Diamond carbon Z collapsable.
Top: Icebreaker 150 merino wool, Salomon pro T shirt
Shorts: Craft Pro Trail ultra shorts. Look funny, but work great.
Gloves: 150 merino wool mitts,
Hat: Icebreaker 150 merino wool skull cap
Feed: variety of Springer gels, Hammer Montana Berry gel (my fav), Naak
Hornby Hammer bars. X1 Ham/cheese roll, x1 avocado chicken wrap. Carried
but did not eat nuts/chocolate mix, pretzel/nut mix, countless excess
gels and bars.
Drink: Hammer Perpetuem at x2 concentration, Nuun sport caffeine wild
berry electrolyte. One flask Nuun, one flask Perpetuem
Plus the usual windbreaker, long sleeve top, sun glasses, cap, tape,
Head torch: Black Diamond
Bum bag: first time in trying, but worked great to put used wrappings in.
What worked well:
Perpetuem energy drink is a game changer for me. All was good till I
thought I’d run out so I changed to Hammer Heed at KM 50. Never again.
Unbeknown to me, I had another sachet in my pack.
Nuun was great till I tired of the flavour. Switched to water at KM 50.
Most food was excellent. I tired of gels etc at KM 50 (there’s a theme
here), and found an errant Kirkland nut bar (200 cals) which saw me
through, along with the Hammer gel which I can consume most of the time.
I enjoyed my roll and half a wrap.
All my clothing and gear performed well, as expected.
The tape (thanks Brent for pre run suggestion) kept my pole in a working
order. I broke one at KM 15. My clockwork every 30min / 100 cals
feeding. I calculated on 200 cals/hr. In the end, I consumed closer to
300 cals/hr and burned 7500 cals, a deficit of 50%.
What did not work:
Switching from Perpetuem to Heed. The berry seed Springer gels are too
concentrated for my stomach. My mitts caused my thumbs to get worryingly
frozen after dark due to gripping the poles. My foolish decision to stop
eating with 8km to go. I bonked well with 3km to go. Not pretty. I
packed *way* too much food, had so much left over.
Training: elevation gain and loss. Sulphur Mtn was my friend. I tried to
add distance trail running into the mix eg Skyline, Rockwall. However,
it was hard to train for the GC run as the start is a 12km/1800m
descent! My legs took ages to recover. I was extremely pleased with my
days efforts as I was very late in the day with my training due to
Another reminder though of the importance of packing. Everything needs
to be quickly accessible otherwise it won’t happen. I should have put
more clothing on in the final ascent, but instead I got super cold. I
found a spare Perpetuem mix in another pocket.
We are excited to once again bring you our Athlete of the Month blog post... We started this blog series to showcase a local athlete connected to the store and community and ask them questions about their sport and learn from their experiences!
This month we have Olympian and Canadian National Team member... who also happens to be the first place female at last month's Strides and Glides event... Katherine Stewart-Jones! Kath is originally from Chelsea, Quebec but has lived in the Bow Valley for many years now training with The Alberta World Cup Academy and Nordiq Canada's Sr national team. Kath is a very talented athlete and we are very fortunate to be able to feature her as our athlete of the month!
What are your biggest accomplishments in the sport?
My biggest accomplishment in the sport is representing Canada at the Olympics last winter. I am proud of how I handled the bumps in the road to get there, and how much better of an athlete I became by overcoming these obstacles.
What are your goals for this upcoming season?
My focus for this upcoming season is on the Tour de Ski and World Championships, where my goal is to accomplish some personal best results.
What advice would you give to younger athletes?
My advice would be to be curious, ask questions, and don't be afraid to take responsibility for your own success.
Thank you Katherine and good luck in your upcoming season... feel free to follow along with Kath's racing on her instagram @kstweartjones and make sure to check the World Cup results as she is leaving to compete in Europe this week!!
Along with our NEW newsletter we are also starting a new blog for Strides Canmore!! One new feature we will be highlighting in the blog is an athlete of the month where we are able to showcase a local athlete connected to the store and community and ask them questions about their sport and learn from their experiences!
Our first athlete we will be highlighting is Noer Wuisman! Noer is a Canmore local runner, mom, and teacher who started running just 3.5 years ago with the Strides Learn to Run club. In just 3 years of dedicated running and hard work, she recently completed her first 60k Ultra running race in Shuswap. She has been committed to learning about the sport, staying injury free by increasing her mileage gradually, and exploring our mountain trails with the Run Club and with new running friends. A huge congratulations to Noer for an amazing accomplishment and for inspiring others to reach their goals!
How long have you been running?
My running journey began 3 1/2 years ago in January 2019. I signed up for the Running 101 clinic for beginners at Strides Canmore, where I started with the basics: walking and running 1 minute intervals for 20 minutes along the Canmore river pathways. The clinic was invaluable as it taught me about running techniques and injury prevention. My running spark got ignited, and I continued to grow as a runner by taking a few more running clinics with Strides and setting personal running goals that excited me. My running goals gradually progressed from running up Mt. Douglas/Pkols, a small mountain in Victoria in my first year, to running the Iceline Trail (21K) in my second year, followed by the Skyline Trail (46K) in my third year and then the Shuswap 60K ultra this fall.
What inspired you to tackle an ultra?
What guides me in trail running is my sense of adventure and curiosity. Spending an extended time moving through various landscapes of natural beauty makes my heart sing! I love endurance and spending time in nature, and long distance trail running gives me the opportunity to do both. I also wanted to challenge myself; doing something I never thought I would be capable of doing, something that physically, as well as mentally was going to stretch me. I find it immensely rewarding to work towards a goal that initially seemed impossible, but with hard work, I was able to succeed.
What are your biggest challenges?
Work-life balance is a challenge with being a parent, working full-time, and needing time to train for long distances. Sometimes this means waking up at 5:30am for my long runs - even if I am tired or the weather isn’t great.
What would you be your advice to new runners?
1. Focus on injury prevention: start slow, use walk/run intervals, learn about maintenance.
2. Be curious! Ask questions about gear, nutrition and hydration, follow advice and tips from experienced runners, sign up for clinics and
3. Set running goals that truly excite you so you stay motivated!
4. Build community and find fellow runners with similar goals and running pace.
5. Be inspired, but don’t compare yourself with others. Define your success by your own progress.
6. Cultivate a love for running! In my opinion, running with a smile on your face is more important than what your watch says.
I would like to thank Strides Canmore, in particular Kylie, Pamela and Tim, for nurturing and supporting my running journey with such enthusiasm. You have created a very welcoming and inclusive culture, where everyone can work on one’s running goals no matter how small or big.