Canmore to Banff via Rundle Riverside

Mount Cascade from the Bow River PC: Canmore Runner

I am the king of the hiatus! I make these pronouncements about being back – I literally said, “and we’re back” and then i’m gone again for a period of months. This time around, it can be explained in part by the fact that I haven’t been up to anything new on the trail running front. I pounded up and down the Powerline trail for much of winter and spring, gaining the double-edged Strava “local legend” title in the process – an accolade which of course accentuates the pounding. But the Powerline is not the most thrilling of trails to run, let alone write about.

I’m also still beset with this heightened anxiety about bears which manifests in a sensible tendency to not run alone, especially somewhere new. And not without reason. Ms Canmore Runner and I ran straight into a, luckily uninterested, grizzly on the Loki trail in April.

All that to say, I was very pleased when my good friend and ace local photographer Simon Lee suggested a Saturday morning jaunt from Canmore to Banff along the Rundle Riverside Trail, as part of his quest to get fit for this year’s TransRockies. I wasn’t going to pass that up. And we were joined by the always modest, unassuming and yet powerful Bob Graham Round alumni Jennifer Shutt and Tom the border collie – on the condition that they agreed to run slowly.

We started the run at ArtsPlace in the centre of Canmore and finished at the Banff Avenue Bridge which made for a 23km run with around 770m of elevation gain which looks like this on Strava:

The most challenging part of the route was the 102m climb up to the Canmore Nordic Centre from the Bow River (via the steps next to the TransAlta plant and the Legacy Trail extension). At the Nordic Centre we picked up the Banff Trail and followed this for approximately 5km until we reached the boundary with Banff National Park and the start of the Rundle Riverside Trail.

At the Park boundary PC: Canmore Runner

You could of course start at the Nordic Centre and save yourself 3km.

This is one of those run’s that get more interesting as it goes on. Personally, I find the Banff Trail short on thrills – a gentle, easy run along a wide trail in the trees, albeit with some great views of Mount Rundle from the Mine Meadow.

Once you pick up the Rundle Riverside trail, it’s essentially single track for the next 8km. It begins with a great little descent followed by a more undulating and runnable trail all the way to the Banff Springs Golf Course.

Rundle Riverside trail PC: Canmore Runner

But as nice as it would be to slip into autopilot and flow along the Riverside trail, it’s also a root strewn hell for the first few kilometres. The good news is that you’re not missing much in terms of views as you concentrate on avoiding roots and rolling an ankle. It’s not until around the 14km mark that the views start to come with occasional glimpses of Mount Rundle to the left…

Mount Rundle PC: Canmore Runner

…and the Bow River to the right. The views of the latter become all the more impressive the further you go:

Bow River PC: Canmore Runner
Mount Cascade and the Bow River PC: Canmore Runner

And then, some 17km in overall, you pop out onto the Banff Springs Golf Course road. I always find the sudden transition from trail to road to be quite jarring and this was no exception, not least because it seems to go on forever…

Pavement to Banff PC: Canmore Runner

But, it’s actually only about 4km of pavement before you are rewarded with the always spectacular Bow Falls:

Bow Falls PC: Canmore Runner

Follow the trail along the bank of the Bow River to the pedestrian bridge which we crossed and then headed along the opposite bank to the until the Banff Avenue Bridge and you are done.

And then you can either do what we did and dash to catch the Roam bus back to Canmore; or, I would advise, grab yourself a nice flat white at Wildflower or Whitebark and feel good about the fact that you’ve just run from Canmore to Banff.

Canadian Mountain Running Champs to Canmore. Meanwhile, in Geneva…

Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park – Always good for a spectacular view or two and some great trails – Photo: Canmore Runner

So, here’s some exciting local news, that our good friends at 5 Peaks will host the 2017 Canadian Mountain Running Championship in Canmore on June 10.

Canada’s top mountain runners are expected to compete for the Canadian title up and down the beautiful trails at Canmore Nordic Centre. Prize money will be awarded to the top Canadian finishers in the men’s and women’s races.

The Canadian Championships are the qualifying race for the Canadian national mountain running team which will compete at the World Mountain Running Championships in Italy on July 30, 2017. You can find out more about qualifying for the national team here

A wee footnote to all this. Before you rock up to the Nordic Centre on June 10 with your Speedcross and a burning desire to race, you do have to have qualified which you can do by meeting any one (or more) of the following criteria:

  • You’ve previously competed for Canada in Mountain Running or Cross-Country Running at the international level in the last 5 years (NACAC, Worlds or Commonwealth Championships)
  • You’ve finished in the top three in your age group in a Canadian Regional Mountain Running Qualifying Series race:

Eastern Qualifying Race: Xtrail Mont Sutton, May 27, 2017 [qualify in any distance – 6.5k, 11.8k or 22k]

Ontario Qualifying Race: 5Peaks Terra Cotta, April 22, 2017 [qualify in either Sports Course or Enduro Course]

Prairies Qualifying Race: 5Peaks Terwillegar, April 29, 2017[qualify in either Sports Course or Enduro Course]

BC Qualifying Race: Loop the Lakes, May 13, 2017 [qualify in any distance – 8k, 15k or 21k]

  • You’ve run under 36 minutes (men) or 40 minutes (women) for 10km in 2016 or 2017 in a sanctioned road or cross-country race or any other equivalent race result.

I’m guessing you probably also need to be Canadian too…for which there is increasing demand these days it seems. And, of course, if you do qualify and you get to race, don’t forget your bear spray!

Meanwhile in Geneva, i’ve been busy tackling my inspiration deficit. First, i’m making my way through this mighty tome by Jason Koop, and rather enjoying it too:


Second, i’m also making a distinct effort to seek out trails, as opposed to tarmac, in and around my current stomping ground, and that do not involve a 40-plus minute drive to and from the trailhead. Last Saturday saw some success in the company of Ms Canmore Runner with a great little 7km run which involved a superb 4km stretch and some bushwhacking along the banks of La Versoix:

Photo: Canmore Runner

Photo: Canmore Runner

Photo: Canmore Runner

True, Canmore and the Bow Valley it is not, and the sound of gun fire from the nearby shooting range was a little off-putting, but it’s still pretty special. And you’ve got to make the most of what you’ve got.

Until next time, happy trails.

Belated happy new year! This year’s resolution is…

Dear readers,

Belated happy new year!  May 2017 be everything you want it to be and then some.

So, you may have noticed a certain degree of radio silence on the blog. In fact, WordPress informs me that it’s been three months since my last post. This is not to say that I haven’t been running but I have been lacking in inspiration – both to run as often as I would like and probably should, and to blog about it.

Hopefully that changed this week when I found myself back in Canada, back at my in-laws in Kelowna and, predictably enough, back on the trails of Knox Mountain. I also found myself on back on the bathroom scales and was horrified at what I saw – a few extra kilos of inspiration right there.

It was only a couple of gentle, chilly, 6km runs over Knox. But it was my first outing on trail (as opposed to tarmac) in weeks and it was such a thrill to be back there. And the views were rather superb:


The good news is it left me wanting more of the same. And being the new year and all, resolving to make that happen seemed like a fine idea, whether here in Canada or back in Switzerland where we’re currently based. Finally, a new year’s resolution that I might actually keep.

Until next time, happy trails.


Tent Ridge. Wow.

James Kendal descending Tent Ridge – Photo: Canmore Runner

Oh brother, was I ever kicking myself. Why, oh why, oh why, leave it until now, my last week in Canmore, to run Tent Ridge. I’d heard about it ages ago and I knew from others that it was something special. So why the delay in getting up there and experiencing one of, if not the, most spectacular run that Kananaskis Country has to offer? It’s a rhetorical question of course. It wasn’t that i’d been sitting around doing nothing. I’d been busy running up, down and along other mountains and ridges. But let this be a warning to you: if you’re looking for a 10km run, with 879m of elevation, that has it all from technical singletrack through the trees, to hands-on scrambling, stunning, drawn out mountain vistas and a fast, technical descent back down, then make haste for Tent Ridge. You won’t be disappointed. Continue reading

Coming to Canmore: Trails in Motion

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 08.30.00


The world’s trail running film festival, Trails in Motion, is coming to Canmore on Saturday, June 11th, proudly presented by Canmore Trail Culture.

The screening will take place at artsPlace in the centre of Canmore and will begin at 7pm. Doors open at 630pm. Tickets are $15CAD and can be purchased online from artsPlace beginning next week.

There are seven excellent films to enjoy, inspire and motivate and the opportunity to win prizes generously donated by 5 Peaks and Salomon. For a sense of what lies in store, check out the Trails in Motion trailer below:

And if that’s not enough and you really want to make it a trail running weekend spectacular, you could always enter the 5 Peaks race at the Canmore Nordic Centre on the morning of Saturday 11th; and/or join Canmore Trail Culture on the morning of Sunday 12th for a probably more leisurely pot-luck-brunch-run, complete with the opportunity to demo some of the Salomon range of trail running shoes.

Save the date. It’s going to be awesome.