True North - Page 5
For a lung burner with a little less traffic, head to Lynn Peak. A technical 3000-foot ascent stands between you and a sun-drenched rocky plateau with a view—see the glorious summit of the volcanic Mount Baker, and all of Vancouver and neighboring Burnaby sprawled out in a vast silence below.
Says local speedster and 2010 11th-place WS finisher Nicola Gildersleeve,
"Lynn Peak is a favorite training route. The climb and descent demand attention and condition your quad strength, the views are fantastic and 90 percent of the time, I'm the only one on it."
The Headwaters also act as a central intersection along the Baden Powell Trail, which means that with only limited trail knowledge you can easily enjoy an entire day of pure singletrack.
Nowhere is the balance of life more evident in North Vancouver than during the winter. As if blessed by the snow gods, the city itself sees very little snowfall, yet the mountain tops glisten with fluffy white stuff all winter.
In less than 30 minutes, you can go from enjoying an ocean-front coffee to a world-class winter playground (the Olympics were the exception to our local mountain snowfall, no, really). Three separate resorts offer a full spectrum, from downhill and Nordic skiing to an 8000-square-foot outdoor skating surface. But the trail runner in you is going to be drawn to the snowshoe running.
The snowshoe series, called The Yeti, consists of three events, one in North Van, one in Whistler, and one on Vancouver Island. Says Marc Campbell, owner of The Yeti Snowshoe Racing Series (www.theyeti.ca), "North Vancouver is such a special place. It's rare to find an area where you can run a snowshoe race in the morning and follow up with ocean kayaking or mountain biking in the afternoon."
There are also nighttime snowshoe-running clinics in conjunction with the series. Nothing is quite like following a beam of light through a silent, snow-covered forest on a bed of cushy powder, among people who will attempt to rip your lungs out, and follow that up by paying for your first post-run pint.
TRAILHEAD: NORTH VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
Getting There. North Vancouver is easily accessible via the Vancouver International Airport (YVR). A new sky train called "The Canada Line" was introduced for the 2010 Winter Games, and, for under 10 dollars, you will find yourself standing on Lonsdale Avenue, in the heart of North Vancouver, within an hour of collecting your luggage at YVR. For the business traveller who finds himself in downtown Vancouver, a 12-minute water taxi, called the Sea Bus, will get you to North Van for pocket change. For those wishing to experience all that North Vancouver has to offer, a new four-star hotel was opened in early 2010 and is located right at The Pier, where the Sea Bus to Vancouver operates (www.pinnaclepierhotel.com).
Races. Run The North Shore (www.runthenorthshore.com]) is the predominant local series, offering 10 trail races, including the My First Trail Race with 5- and 10-kilometer options, happening April 3. The infamous Knee Knacker 30-Miler (www.kneeknacker.com) takes place the second weekend in July and sells out every year.
To satisfy the winter runner in you, try out The Yeti (www.theyeti.ca), a 5- and 10-kilometer snowshoe racing series starting in January.
For something more unique, hit up www.clubfatass.com, where members host events for other members, and anyone can hop on board for a small drop-in fee. Distances range from 10K to 100 miles, and events are always followed by a group pub outing, where more often than not your first beer is on the house.
Resources and Guidebooks. For many years there was no running-specific guidebook, and most people referenced Best Hikes and Walks Of Southwestern British Columbia to improvise routes. However, debuting in January will be the much-anticipated Vancouver Trail Running Guidebook (Quickdraw Publications), which will contain information on all of the classic routes along the North Shore. A local company called Cove Productions also produces mountain-bike trail maps that cover many of the trail-running venues.
Something Fishy. British Columbia is world famous for many things, not the least of which is its stellar sushi bars, and Lonsdale Avenue, which is the central hub of North Vancouver, boasts almost two dozen options, averaging one per city block. On the lower half of Lonsdale, check out Sushi Bella. In the mid- to upper reaches of Lonsdale, the best of the best is Hachi Hana, and if you're looking for the best bang for buck, try Aka Tombo.
Trail Running Groups. Pay a small drop-in fee and join the weekly runs organized by MountainMadness.ca.
Camping and Accommodations. North Van is unfortunately relatively dry on campgrounds with the only option being Capilano R.V. Park. While centrally located, just under The Lions Gate Bridge, it can be noisy, and a good set of ear plugs should top your list of essentials.
Other Trail Options. Squamish, a Trail Runner magazine Top Trail Town, is only 35 minutes away, and world-famous Whistler just over an hour. In fact, if you were to combine all that you could access within 60 short minutes behind the wheel, you'd be looking at more terrain than you could hope to cover in months, or even years, as long as your name is not Anton Krupicka!