All finishers are guaranteed a medal, but you have to run either 32 or 42 kilometres to get one. And, the medals might be more “fun” than official.
Last year, Shuswap Trail Epic run organizer Roger Parenteau and five-year-old daughter Hallie made them out of salt-dough.
“We had a lot of fun cutting them out and painting them,” chuckled Parenteau, an avid runner and cyclist for more than 20 years. Parenteau started the Shuswap Trail Epic last year but told only a handful of local runners about the race, an informal trial for this year’s event.
“I didn’t want to jump into it full force and not know what challenges were involved.”
Parenteau is organizing the trail run as a fun way for athletes to cap off the summer.
“It’s not the kind of thing you can do multiple times a year. It’s a big adventure to build up to. A nice way to say goodbye to summer.”
The run starts at the Larch Hills chalet and finishes in Sicamous, at Hyde Mountain Golf Course. Along the way, runners may see wildlife and a lot of natural back-country beauty as they run over challenging conditions.
“It’s always an adventure. The views are spectacular.”
Trail running, said Parenteau, can be easier on a runner’s body than regular running.
“Trail running is refreshing in every way. Especially when you are out there to have fun and you’re not concerned about time.”
Shuswap Trail Epic runners will find themselves pitted against beautiful but tough terrain. The traverse, said the run director, has switchbacks, long descents and some steep pitches as it goes over bush trails, through cut blocks and over blown- down trees.
“It’s surprisingly tough. It’s not an easy race for a beginning runner.”
Parenteau, who has both organized and participated in many marathon and half-marathon events, began trail running as a way to explore more of the Shuswap. He got the idea to create a trail run when the Shuswap Trail Alliance announced the completion of the traverse trail, from Larch Hills to Sicamous.
“It seemed like a natural, pretty cool thing to do.”
When asked why athletes take part in such gruelling events, Parenteau laughs, “That’s the million-dollar question. It’s a way to get out and explore.”
The 2010 top male finisher was well-known athlete and coach Phil Wallensteen who finished in just over three hours. Top female finisher was local Vivian Morris, who crossed the finish line in just over four hours. This year, Morris co-ordinated “an informal leaderless group” training for the 2011 traverse. Since May, the group has been training on the foreshore, South Canoe or Larch Hills trails.
Morris points out that the event is “a run, not a race” and notes that “the scenery is spectacularly beautiful.”
This year, Parenteau would be pleased to see anywhere from 20 to 40 runners take part.
“As long as everyone is out there to do this for fun and have a great time, it’s a really cool adventure.”
He is grateful for the “amazing support” from Shuswap Search and Rescue as well as Hyde Mountain Golf Course. To learn more about the Shuswap Trail Epic, go to http://www.transitionevents.ca/wp or call Roger Parenteau at 250-832-5440.