Sunday, August 29, 2010

Just How Hardcore are you feeling?

That was the first question I asked N after we exchanged formalities when I met him this morning for his inaugural trail run in the Powderface parking lot. It was the first time I’ve met N after chatting back and forth on Facebook and Blogger, and now I have found a barefooted cold weather kindred spirit runner.
“Well, I like to run in minus 35 degree weather, so I’m good to go!” was his answer.
That was all I needed as persuasion to start our cold, wet and absolutely unforgettable run on Prairie Link Trail this morning. The forecast called for drizzle and cold and drizzle and cold is what we got.
GPS data can be found here.
2010-08-29 (1)The drive out to Prairie Link Trail in Kananaskis. Rainy, chilly, wet, and snow at higher elevations. But the adrenaline was surging and I was hoping N was still up for the run.
2010-08-29 (4) Obviously he was up for the run, so we headed up the steep initial section of the trail.
2010-08-29 (8)N showed up decked out in KSO’s and black ninja pants, injinji socks, gloves, toque, rain gear, etc… I showed up in smartwool, polar fleece and shorts and VFF Sprints. He took one look at me and said I was crazy (or something along those lines). Regardless, barefoot runners tend to get that a lot.
2010-08-29 (10)As my initial drive in to the Kananaskis forecasted, higher elevations turned rain in to snow. No big deal though as running kept me warm and the cool air kept my adrenaline surging throughout this run. The part I love about barefoot running is that in cold weather the initial 5 minutes are cold on your feet, but since all the muscles in your feet are being used while running, your feet warm up and stay warm thereafter. It’s an amazing feeling, weird as that sounds.
2010-08-29 (11) Well armed with bear spray, bells and a realistic dose of caution, we tried to avoid the great hooved grizzlies of the area. Telltale signs of their presence were obvious.
2010-08-29 (14)There was one unmistakable tree on the path that I’m sure everyone stops to look at. N saw it as a stripper pole, I saw it as a seat (see below).
46482_1168961961192_1742274482_318029_4370340_n Comfy nature seat? I think not! More like upside-down question mark!
2010-08-29 (15) At the high point of the trail. I think elevation gain was 275 meters (900 feet or so).
2010-08-29 (16) See, elevation of 5857 ft, although that does not prove that the parking lot is 900 feet below.
2010-08-29 (19)N let out a couple of WOOP WOOP’s on this downhill section. You can also see that the snowfall picked up at the higher elevation.
2010-08-29 (20)I rode this trail a few years ago on my mountain bike, and this used to be a creek fording. Now they’ve built a bridge. The old path was still there which fords the creek (to the left), which we did.
2010-08-29 (22)Look at this guy. Running through a creek AND taking photos of his feet. You can tell he’s proud to be a barefoot runner!
2010-08-29 (23) Post fording foot shots. Look, they’re wet! Even with shoes, they would still be wet! But alas, we are not wearing shoes, we are wearing VFF’s. So proud to be wearing them.
47794_1168962201198_1742274482_318031_2309883_n Again, the advantage to outings with other people! Not only can I see photos of myself, I can also analyze my form and running gait. I think it looks pretty good!
2010-08-29 (25)The great part about running with other people is you can get some great shots of them in action. Good form N! Figure 4’s!
2010-08-29 (27)Ah, kindred spirits, both in running and in footwear :-) My squirrel friend who works for cashews and happens to be on every outing with me took this photo.
47794_1168962241199_1742274482_318032_1543809_n N couldn’t resist this VFF shot. Probably going to end up on their FB fansite.
47794_1168962281200_1742274482_318033_4266175_n More barefoot running technique. Figure 4’s!
2010-08-29 (32)This is such a fantastic trail, and I recommend it to anyone and EVERYone who likes being outdoors. The views are fantastic and the scenery is incredible, even with the low clouds, snowfall and greasy mud!
2010-08-29 (33)Coming out of the trail on to the main highway. The last time I was here I was halfway through my half marathon! This was the end of the run for us today, and it deserved a well earned high five!
47794_1168962481205_1742274482_318038_6350245_n Not sure if I will or N will post it, but this is post-run VFF shot for the Facebook fansite. Their site has many of these shots, each one telling a story of the individual’s own escapades in their 5’s!
All in all, a fantastic run! The cold weather keeps you moving while at the same time slows dehydration and keeps the adrenaline surging! At the same time, I felt I could have run for hours, and I think I owe that to the spirit that N brought along with him on this run. This was N’s first trail run (and hopefully not his last), and I was happy to lead him on it! If anyone is ever out in K-country and needs someone to hit the trails with (or with WHOM to hit the trails), look me up and I’ll be there!


  1. I've done that trail! It was very cool. When I get my pair of Vibrams I'll let you know, and we'll go do some running!

  2. Are you a barefoot runner too Duane? Very cool :-)

  3. What fun!
    Beautiful area and lovely photos!
    The tree was pretty cool :)