True North - Page 4
Kristina Jenei on the Baden Powell Trail between Grouse Mountain and Lynn Valley. Photo by Rich Wheater.
The Knee Knacker
Traversing the three local faces of Cypress, Grouse and Seymour mountains is an unparalleled, point-to-point, mostly singletrack route. The Baden Powell Trail goes all the way from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to Panorama Park in Deep Cove, a distance of 30 miles, and all within the North Shore’s boundaries. Virtually all of North Vancouver’s trails lead to the Baden Powell (BP), as the BP virtually transects the midline of the entire network.
“I live three houses away from a trail that gives me direct access to the BP and some of the most amazing wilderness on the planet,” says Ean Jackson, who is half of the partnership behind a local running club known as Club Fat Ass (www.clubfatass.com). “There’s no place I’d rather live than in North Van. Show me another place where a person can have bears in their backyard and a 15-minute commute to the financial district, and I’ll run my next 100-miler backwards!”
An annual race occurs in July along the BP, and locals toss around Knee Knacker times like marathon PRs. The route is also infamous in the Canadian ultrarunning scene and was labeled “Canada’s Knarliest 30-Miler” by co-race founder Enzo Federico. Debuting in 1989, it’s considered one of the best races in the country. Says male course-record holder (4 hours 39 minutes), Aaron Heidt, “The Knee Knacker is the most grueling 50K I’ve ever run—even the descents are full of nasty climbs!”
And recent 100K World Champion and female course-record holder (5 hours 6 minutes), Ellie Greenwood, says, “I have yet to come across a trail race that compares to the Knee Knacker in terms of technical difficulty.”
The race has attracted a few top U.S. runners over the years, such as William Emerson, but has never been won by an “out of towner.” It is held just two weeks after the Western States 100-miler, yet that doesn’t stop the B.C. runners from coming out en mass. It is considered a badge of honor to have pulled off “The Double”—running both Western States and the Knee Knacker back to back—with Peter Findlay owning the lowest combined time. In 1994 he ran a 17-hour-3-minute WS and followed that up with a 4-hour-47-minute Knee Knacker. The race employs a lottery system, with the cutoff for entries happening in February.