You could be forgiven for thinking that not much happened for Canmore Runner in 2017, beyond some spectacular runs earlier in the year in Annecy and Courmayeur with Canmore running sensation Fitzy. But contrary to the saying, “if it isn’t on [insert social media here], it didn’t happen”, just because I didn’t find the time to blog about it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And for sure, 2017 saw some beautiful runs in and around Geneva, a quick trip back to Canmore, and one cracking ultra. So, in no particular order, here are some things that I didn’t quite manage to blog about in 2017…
First, the Chamonix Valley continued to prove its unquestionable worth as a trail running destination. The trails seem endless; they are well-marked and offer all levels of technical difficulty and elevation and spectacular views; there’s plenty of scope to adjust your running to the weather conditions:
There’s even a dedicated trail running website and app! And the town itself makes a great base in terms of accommodation, restaurants and cafes and gear shops and, of course, plays host to some great trail races, not least the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc.
Second, while Chamonix was a strong draw, the Jura mountains are also spectacular in their own way and have the advantage of being quicker to access from Geneva. This year, my exploration of the Jura continued, with a beautiful 21km trail run from the forests of Col de la Faucille in France to Saint-Cergue in Switzerland, via La Dole:
I also ran a fabulous and at times steep 11km loop, with some 1000m of elevation, that took in Le Reculet and the Crete de la Neige, the highest point on the Jura at 1720 metres:
Last but not least, the Jura also played host to some very early Sunday morning runs for which I was rewarded with the occasional spectacular sun rise:
Third, while I love running in Europe, it’s hard to beat the Canadian Rockies and, of course, Canmore and the Bow Valley to which we returned for a brief visit this summer. There were plenty of highlights: catching up with the Canmore Trail Culture crew; revisiting some of the great Bow Valley trails – Montane, Yamnuska; and exploring some news ones in the company of my erstwhile running companion Fitzy, not least of all the Plain of Six Glaciers at Lake Louise.
There ain’t nothing plain about the Plain of Six Glaciers. Rather, it’s a gradual ratcheting up of sensational, heart-stopping views beginning with Lake Louise and followed by a steadily rising and beautifully run-able mix of hard pack and increasingly rocky single track. And that’s just the trip to the Plain. Combine it with a return trip via the Beehive and the awesome drop down to Lake Agnes (tea room stop not obligatory but totally worth it for the door-stopper cheese sandwiches) and you get the most amazing 19km run with around 1,100m of elevation. A word to the wise, however. If you choose to do this during the height of summer, start early, by which I mean dawn, to avoid the crowds and possible death by selfie stick.
Fourth, I managed only one ultra this season but it was awesome. The Trail des Dents du Midi. Starting and ending in the beautiful Swiss skiing village of Champery, in the Valais, the race is a spectacular 57km loop, with 3700m of elevation.
As I stood toeing the line for the 6am start I did wonder what business I had being there given the sparse amount of preparation i’d managed. But 12 gruelling hours later, I reappeared in Champery, elated both at finishing within the cut off but, more importantly, at the monumental experience I had just mostly enjoyed. There were some low points for sure. The seemingly endless but in reality brutal 10km climb from Verossaz to the Col du Joraz comes to mind, where I seriously wondered how I was going to get this done. But a few text messages with Ms. Canmore Runner and some friendly and encouraging exchanges with the elite runners who, after starting several hours after me were now flying past, was enough to be get me over the top and to the next aid station before one final, blizzard strewn, steep climb to the Col de Salanfe, after which it was mostly downhill from there. This and other low points paled into insignificance against the stunning backdrop of the Dents du Midi and it is that, and the camaraderie on the trail, which remains at the forefront of my memories of that day. It was quite a high point to end the season on.