Who: 7 teams, 57 runners
What: 150KM Ultramarathon Relay
Where: Montreal to Ottawa
When: July 1, 2017
Why: To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, sharing community spirit
We will be hosting a self-supported 150KM Ultramarathon relay on July 1, 2017, as a celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday!
We have brought together 7 teams of 57 runners, united on this journey from Montreal to Ottawa. The motivation behind the Canada 150 was fueled by Kevin’s desire to bring together the run community, in an event that would allow runners of all levels and abilities to accomplish something great together. Sometimes a race distance can be daunting and not possible for one individual to complete alone, so the team format brings together a group of individuals to accomplish great things together.
Each of the runners selected for the Canada 150 represent the diversity of the growing Montreal run community, and together in teams, they will work in unison to cover the distance of this self-supported relay. The segments have been carefully planned to offer a variety of distances and speeds, while keeping the runners sync’d in a group effort. The shortest distance is 7.2K, with the longest being 15.7K. Speeds will vary from 9-12K/h with the total run time being 15 hours.
Departing from Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue on the West Island of Montreal, the runners will make their way to Ottawa utilizing the Prescott-Russel Recreational Trail, traversing through the small towns and communities along the way. Follow along on our Instagram and Twitter feeds as we post throughout the day on July 1st!
Click here to view our video preview of the event!
We are estimating our time-line as follows:
5:00 AM – Pedestrian Bridge Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue
6:00 AM – Vaudreuil
7:00 AM – Hudson
8:15 AM – Rigaud
9:40 AM – St-Eugene Pavilion
11:10 AM – VanKleek Hill Pavilion
12:25 PM – Caledonia Springs
1:55 PM – Plantegenet Pavilion
2:55 PM – Boudreau Road
3:55 PM – Hammond Pavilion
4:50 PM – Dunning Road
5:40 PM – Milton Road
6:40 PM -Anderson Raod
7:45 PM – Aviation Museum
When we became run ambassadors for lululemon in October 2012, we didn’t realize the impact it would have on our lives, nor the path it would take us on. Initially, we thought we’d simply be product testing some run shorts made by a company famous for their black-stretchy-pants – instead, we got a whole lot more than anticipated.
Our vision was to give back to the community – to connect with others and help them overcome fears and courageously take on their dreams. To inspire 10 people, in hopes that they would then go out and inspire 10 more. Surprisingly, what happened as this process unfolded was that we gained a deeper understanding of ourselves – the meaning of gratitude and compassion. We learned how to create a long-term vision and set the short-term goals that would guide us. Initially this was overwhelming, but as we began getting comfortable envisioning the future, it became easier to define what that might look like. Through community connections and run events, photo shoots and ambassador summits, as we stretched out on yoga mats and took time to breathe, we learned to challenge ourselves – to think big, then BIGGER, then small, then SMALLER.
At the same time, our triathlon and run adventures that began in 2003, were forming the building blocks for our desire to explore more, and push the boundaries of possibility. We also discovered that our travel and race experiences were most rewarding when shared with like-minded individuals. At some point, everything clicked and our goal setting ability brought our vision into clear view. RunTrippers is the result of that vision, with the goal to travel and run in different countries around the world, sharing the journey with anyone who wants to come along – literally or virtually.
In January 2017, we decided to leap forward and take our first official RunTrippers travel adventure – why wait until all the stars align and the timing is perfect – right now is perfect!
This spark was initiated by our friend Johany Jutras, who had photographed us in the past, with a vision to document our trip so we could tell our story.
She also suggested we bring along her videographer friend Annie-Claude Roberge to capture some footage of the journey. The question was, where would we go, and what would that destination represent.
We knew the purpose of our trip was to venture to a place that would challenge and inspire us, and we wanted a landscape that offered incredible scenic beauty. The choice was obvious – Iceland. Who else but a couple of Canadians would travel to Iceland to go running in the middle of winter!
We put together a lululemon gear selection consisting of a Run for Cold Jacket, Cool Racerback II, WunderUnder and Inspire II Tights for Kat – and a Surge Warm ½ Zip, Metal Vent Tech Hoodie, Surge Warm Tights and a Pack It Jacket for Kev. With our plan in place, and our travel packs loaded, we were ready to experience running in Iceland.
We flew into Keflavik on January 27, 2017 and for the next week, we ventured around the island exploring the extreme landscape and delving into the culture. From adventuring through the quiet city of Reykjavik with its soft glistening lights, to running across barren landscapes of the South Island with every-changing weather conditions – Iceland resonated with us very deeply.
The first three nights were spent in Reyjavik – catching the sunrise on Mount Esja, visiting the Old Harbour, Tjornin Pond, and the Opera house – with visuals that were beautiful and striking.
We explored the Ellioaardalur Valley – right in the heart of the city, and ran along the scenic Reykjavik marathon course.
We drove the Golden Circle route and found ourselves trekking through deep snow across the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates as the sun began to rise.
Onwards to Pingvellier – a UNESCO World Heritage site – then stops at Geysir and the Gullfoss waterfall. The air was so incredibly fresh and the vast landscape simply breathtaking.
We spent the next three nights in the countryside, living like locals in the beautiful remote setting of Hella. Our days were filled with adventure as we trekked 4km out to the black sand beach at Solheimasandur to visit the 1973 US Navy plane wreck. We hiked up and over the Langjokull and Vatnajokull glaciers, descended into the ice-caves and visited the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon – 370km from Reykjavik!
As we navigated through our itinerary, we also took the time to explore the unexpected places that seemed to appear at every turn in the road.
With our journey complete, we headed back home knowing there was still so much left to see. This trip taught us how valuable it is to slow things down and take a breath – to step away from everyday life and really look around.
Travel brings an opportunity to step out of our comfort zone and look back on the road we’ve wandered upon, to see where our compass guides us next. Being courageous enough to take a leap and forge your path is when life truly begins!
We are already planning our next trip and have a long list of places we’d love to run through. It’s a great big planet out there and adventure awaits!
In late January 2017, we set off on an adventure to run in Iceland – who else but a couple of Canadians would go to Iceland to run in the middle of winter! We flew into Keflavik airport on a direct flight with WOW airlines, and began our adventure with a 3-night stay in Reyjavik.
We didn’t know what to expect since it was our first visit, so we packed multiple layers of our favourite lululemon run gear, as well as an assortment of the 2017 shoes in the Skechers Performance lineup. We thought this would be a great way to test out the new product, since our plan was to run in a variety of conditions over multiple surface changes. Kat also packed a pair of ‘On The Go 400 – Glacial’s – excited to see how they would perform in this unique landscape.
The first pair we tested were the GOMeb Razors. This is a new model for 2017, and the structure and fit lands somewhere between the GoRun5 and Go Meb Speed.
We were immediately in-love with the knit-upper, as well as the colours and graphics, and were excited to get running.
The GOMeb Razor was light-weight and super-comfy right out of the box with a nice bouncy mid-sole. The knit upper offered excellent ventilation with great structure and was a perfect match for our 10K run in the Ellioaardalur valley – right in the heart of Rekjavik! The GOMeb Razor was a clear winner on our mid-distance run as well, where we ran along parts of the Reykjavik marathon course. They GOMed Razors provided stable comfort and a grippy feel, proving it to be a great mid-distance shoe as well! This will be a regular in our training and racing shoe lineup for those speedy outings!
Next up was the GOTrail Ultra 4. Being ultra-distance athletes, we’ve spent a lot of time in the GOTrail Ultras in the past few years and the 4th generation of this shoe is a clear indication of why Skechers Performance is in the game to stay! We tested out the GOTrail Ultra’s throughout our trip, at various locations and on a variety of terrain.
From running across volcanic beaches to descending into ice-caves and up and over Langjokull and Vatnajokull glaciers, the GOTrail Ultra 4 performed beautifully with excellent fit and function.
This shoe boasts plush cushioning and excellent breathability, as well as suburb traction and stability. The near seamless design offered enhanced comfort and a secure fit, providing a mid-foot strike-zone which ensured an efficient stride. The GOTrail Ultra 4 will definitely be a workhorse for us on the long runs!
In an unexpected twist, Kat’s ‘On The Go 400 – Glacial’s’ were a HUGE unexpected hit! Right out of the box, these quickly became a go-to favorite with their impressive fit, warm comfort and super-comfy GogaMat insoles.
These boots performed beautifully, whether it was on a trek through deep snow across the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, or mounted with a set of crampons for hikes up and over the glaciers. The ‘On The Go 400’s were a wonderful addition to the test line-up and offered impressive fit and functionality in all conditions.
It’s obvious that Skechers are pushing the boundaries to improve on great products and continue to impress us with each evolution in the line-up. We’re excited to take on the 2017 training and racing season in this diverse range of shoes, geared for runners of all levels and distances.
Iceland was a fabulous run adventure, but with so much to see in this vast landscape, we ran out of time and still have unfinished stops on our itinerary, which will mean a return trip for use.
We also ran out of time for shoe testing, so we’ll have a GORun5 report coming soon, along with a full RunTripper Iceland Tour rundown!
In the interest of full disclosure, we are Skechers Performance Ambassadors, so the product we receive is sent to us free of charge. Obviously we’re grateful for that, but our commitment is to you as a reader. For that reason, we only share our own opinions.
R2R2R – Double crossing of the Grand Canyon October 10, 2016 marked our 2nd time taking on this EPIC trail run – EPIC is the one word that can best describe an adventure of this magnitude. The Grand Canyon is one of those places that pictures don’t do it justice. You need to be present to understand the sheer magnitude of this landscape as it welcomes you to leap out and explore it’s vast beauty.
The Stats We knew there would be challenges given the terrain, self-supported nature of the run, distance and elevation profile, but we were ready. R2R2R is an extremely difficult task, with 22,000ft of elevation change – 11,000ft up vertically – but if you think about it as ‘only two hills’, it looks pretty simple on paper. Run down the South Rim, across the Canyon, then up the North Rim – take a picture – then turn around and go back. Easy enough, right? Well, not so much.
The descent down the South Rim drops 5,000ft in the first 8km’s (5 miles) to the Colorado River, the next 17km’s (10.6 miles) takes you across the canyon over undulating hills, with the 8.6km (5.4 mile) ascent to the North Rim climbing 6,000ft up – and that is less than half the total run. Add to that the altitude on both rims, combined limited water resources, no cell service, and zero support makes for a dangerous adventure.
The Trip We arrived in Vegas late on Saturday Oct 8th, and after a short sleep, we were venturing down the highway towards the Grand Canyon National Park. We arrived on Saturday afternoon, and knew the moment we pulled up to the edge of the South Rim why we had to come back for another double crossing – the Grand Canyon was begging us to venture out and remind us of it’s power.
Once settled in at the Maswik Lodge, we were joined by our Ultra Ohana family of Dave Ahrens and Amanda Weil who wanted to come along and see the canyon for themselves, and partake in some of the run. Dave was also accompanied by his partner Kirk Beckwith, so we had a new member to introduce to our world of ultra-crazy.
A plan was quickly hatched for Kev & I to depart the by 4:30am from the South Kaibab Trailhead, and have Dave and Amanda run down to meet us at the Colorado River on our ascent back up to the South Rim on the return trip.
The Route On this crossing, we would head down South Kaibab (in the dark), then cross the Colorado over Black Bridge, continue past Bright Angel Campground, through Phantom Ranch, Box Canyon, Cottonwood, and up the North Kaibab trail to the top of the North Rim, after which, we would head back down the North Kaibab trail and retrace our path where we would meet up with Dave and Amanda, and take the Bright Angel trail up and out to the South Rim.
This was Dave & Amanda’s first run into the canyon, so they were excited to make it down to the Colorado river, and cross over Silver Bridge to meet us as we were coming back up. They would be our support crew – think ‘personal entertainment system’ – to help us on the final ascent up the South Rim. Their run would cover 27.6km’s (17 miles) with 10,000 feet of elevation change, 5,000 ft of which would be straight uphill for the last 5 miles!
Final Prep & Gear Choice The Maswik is located at the top of the Bright Angel trail, so located near our final exit point of the canyon. After a lovely dinner at the Bright Angel dining room, we headed to the lodge and did our final gear prep before turning in for the night. For shoes, we chose to go with our Skechers GOTrail Ultras for this run adventure, since they offered excellent traction, and the additional support needed given the terrain and distance. We had tested with these at the various Wanderlust hikes we lead in Tremblant this year, and they performed beautifully in all conditions so they were the obvious choice. For clothing, it was our tried and true lululemon run commute gear we had worn over several weeks of build. Kev’s loves his 5′ Surge Shorts and Mental Vent Tank, and for Kat it was the Run Times Shorts and Swiftly Tech T paired with the Energy Bra. For nutrition, we had our custom Infinit formulas measured out and pre-packed, ready to add into our hydration packs at the planned water stops.
With the gear set, we were ready to GO. What would the next 24 hours hold for us?
The R2R2R We were awake by 2:58am and began our nutrition intake and final gear cross-check. Amanda was our designated driver to the drop-point about 5 miles from the village, and brought us out to the South Kaibab trailhead by 4:30am as planned.
The South Kaibab trail is quite steep, so the descent in the dark was rather tricky as we carefully descended past Ooh-Aah and Skeleton Point, not wanting to make any early mistakes. The first few hours were spent traversing the tight switchbacks winding down to the river. Daylight was on the horizon as we reached Black Bridge, and we made our first fuel stop to reload at Bright Angel Campground, 11.2km (7 miles) into the run.
Onward through Box Canyon and out into the heat and sunshine through Cottonwood. Our next pitstop would be at 25km (15.5 miles) into the run as we reached the Pump House. Once reloaded and refreshed, we began the winding 8.6km (5.4 miles) ascent up towards the North rim, past Ribbon Falls, through the Supai tunnel and up past the Coconino Overlook. As we climbed up and out to the North Rim, we were reminded of the altitude and thinner air that 7000ft brings, 33.6km (21 miles) into the run.
Once at the top, we reloaded our packs, and with the luck of a weak cell signal, were able to send off a message to our support crew that we had indeed made it to the North Rim. At this point, we were running an hour or so behind schedule as it was 12:10pm. We received an incoming message that Dave & Amanda still planned to meet us at the Colorado, so we had a great reason to start the descent ahead of the mule train, and make our way back across to the South Rim.
Given our updated status, Dave and Amanda set out at 1:45pm and flew down the Bright Angel trail and made it to the Colorado in 1h45 minutes! They continued on through the Bright Angel Campground and onwards to Phantom Ranch where they were able to get some well eared lemonade. They continued running into Box Canyon just as we were running through at 4:30pm. Cheers of joy and excitement greeted us as we saw each other!
At this point, we were 56km’s (34.8 miles) into our journey with another 17.2km’s (10.7 miles) to go, so began our way back through Phantom Ranch making another fuel stop before heading back across the Colorado, stopping to savour a bit of the view of this mighty-majestic river on our return.
The sun had set as the view of the South Rim appeared in the far distance. By the time we reached the beginning of the climb up the Devil’s Corkscrew, nightfall was upon us, so out came the headlamps, as did the ‘bats’! Dave’s screams could be heard echoing through the canyon walls as we ran through the darkness up towards Indian Gardens. Heavy rains the week prior to our arrival had lead to some areas of the trail being washed out, so we proceeded with caution over the various water crossings. At this point, things were getting a bit tough for all of us, so we worked to motivate and encourage each other as we made our way up and onto the last section of the Bright Angel trail. Up past 3mile rest house, 1.5 miles rest house, then up and out of the deep abyss. Kirk was waiting with 1/4 mile left to go on the trail, and his reassurance that we were near the top elevated our spirits. We emerged from the Bright Angel Trailhead together in darkness, utterly in awe of our accomplishment – 73.2km (45.5miles) and 17 hours of non-stop running.
The Celebration Back at the hotel, caked in 2 millions of years of red trail dust, celebratory beers and several pizzas were in order. This was significant, not only to mark the completion of our adventure, but to give thanks for the bonds of family, friendship and accomplishment – it was Thanksgiving after all!
No matter how prepared you are for something of this magnitude, you can never be sure of how things will play out, or what Mother Nature may have in store for you on the given day. Luckily we had great conditions and fabulous support, which made it not only a comforting and safe double crossing, but a very enjoyable one as well. We learned so much on this double-crossing and have a greater understanding of the canyon as a whole, as well as our abilities.
Taking It In The next day as we picnicked rim side, we were awestruck at the beauty of the canyon, and knew we would never see it the same way again. Having flung ourselves over the edge, bravely forging ahead to challenge the impossible, there we stood, shining bright in awe of our accomplishments. To finish off our experience, we dined together at the El Tovar Lodge to complete the ohana family gathering.
Sharing something like this with others only strengthens the bonds of family friendship which will undoubtedly leave a lasting memory to share for years to come. We all were on our own personal quest, and will carry back great memories in our minds from this shared experience.
When you truly test your mental and physical abilities and push yourself beyond anything you think is possible, it scrapes the bottom of your soul and becomes a part of you.
They say : “Every trips holds the potential to be life-changing, the most valuable stuff you can bring back home doesn’t always take up space in your luggage” – and in this case, it definitely applies.
We left the canyon richer than when we arrived, knowing the limits in life are only those we set upon ourselves, with a promise to return. While we may have little control over the length of our lives, we certainly have control over the depth of it. Until next time.
Just as we began to ramp up our spring training miles for the 2016 Boston and London Marathons, the newest models in the Skechers Performance lineup arrived at our doorstep! Given the excellent performance of the 2015 models, we were excited to see what changes the team had incorporated into in the newest incarnations.
As soon as we opened the boxes, it was obvious that Skechers has been taking serious strides in product development – listening to us as runners and what we desire in a shoe. Throughout the line, they continue to impress us with extremely comfortable, lightweight shoes, geared towards a performance purpose.
Immediately apparent was the integration of breathable seamless uppers, and re-engineered features in the sole construction. We were excited to get laced up and head out the door, so here’s our take on how each shoe fits in with our run objectives this season.
GOrun4 – The original ‘Speed Demon’ gets ever faster When we first tested out the GOrun4 last year, it was clearly our ‘speed-demon’ of choice for the 2015 season. It surpassed all of our expectations and performed beautifully in a variety of conditions. We raced in this model at several Half Ironman and Half Marathon events and did all of our speed work in these. It provided a great overall race/performance fit and feel, and was light as air. This was a model we thought couldn’t get any better, but when we tried out the latest version, we knew why it had become the 2016 Runner’s World Editor’s Choice.
The new GOknit mesh one-piece upper is soft and seamless, providing a smooth sock-like feel, and comfortable and supportive fit. The re-designed flexible ‘Resalyte’ midsole provides perfect amount of cushioning balanced with impact protection. The modified outer edge ‘pods’ add durability and we found them to have a new super grippy type of traction that translated to straight-line speed!
This is an incredible shoe, and with a 4mm drop that promotes a mid-foot strike, ‘Quick-Fit’ portal and flexible heel-cup for quick transitions, this will remain our preferred mid-distance race shoe.
GOride 5 – ReinventedThe GOride 3 was the first Skechers model we tested back in 2014, so it’s been remarkable to see how the team at Skechers have developed it over the past two years. This shoe has always been comfortable right out of the box, and the next generation of the GOride doesn’t disappoint.
In addition to a completely new seamless upper, with breathable side panels and more stability, we found the redesigned sole to have more cushioning and greater impact protection. The shoe also felt much more responsive, thanks to the new ‘Resalyte’ compound, and GOimpulse Sensors on the outsole, which offered flex and grip for a very smooth and responsive run experience. It also offers generous space in the fore-foot, so more room for your toes to spread out a bit. It also incorporates the 4mm heel drop design, and promotes a mid-foot strike for fluid transition and stride efficiency.
The GOride has always been an extremely comfortable shoe, almost disappearing on your foot, so the new GOride 5 will be our mid-distance ‘go-to’ training shoe when the runs are longer and we’re looking for maximum comfort.
Forza – Stability/Distance King The same comfort found in the GOride and GOrun’s can be felt at the heart of the Forza, with this model offering superior stability and a well cushioned ride. The Forza also incorporates a breathable seamless mesh upper and two-part Resalyte midsole, for a very smooth heel to toe transition.
It features an 8mm drop, and we found this shoe to be super-lightweight with an excellent response right out of the box. The heel cup on the Forza is moulded and well-padded for a more traditional style fit as well, so it really hugs your foot.
The Forza is a great choice for those looking to transition into the Skechers brand and like a traditional style of running shoe. Comfort and stability come together in this lightweight performance machine, making it our model of choice for long training runs.
In Summary All of the Skechers shoes in the Performance line are extremely lightweight and super comfortable on the inside – with no stitching and great breathability. The upper is very flexible so the shoe feels unrestricted, with no hotspots or pressure. The re-engineered soles offer more cushion and traction with a nice mix of stability where needed. As a bonus, we absolutely LOVE the stock ‘flat-wound’ stretch laces!Overall, these shoes offer exceptional performance in and impressive lineup of models, especially if you add the Ultra Road into the mix! Skechers have taken things to the next level, and tailored their Performance lineup to cater to all running styles and distances.
As we log longer mileage over the summer, we’ll be extensively testing the Ultra Trail model as we gear up for a double crossing of the Grand Canyon this fall – stay tuned!
Canada – The Winter Wonderland Growing up in Eastern Canada means half the year is spent in cold and snowy conditions, making it challenging for those athletes who like to get outside. Luckily, Kat’s Scottish heritage has given her a genetic predisposition battling a damp climate, and Kev was raised by a father with a love of cross-country skiing – so being outdoors in winter has never been a deterrent for us.
While running in Montreal in the winter does post some challenges, where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you have vacationed at the seaside from time to time, then running along the beach in ankle deep sand will give you a good idea of what our winter training challenges are like.
Faced with moderate temperatures ranging from -10C to 15C, layering our favourite lululemon gear and optimizing our Skechers shoe choice becomes key. Once kitted out appropriately, it’s just a matter of adapting to the conditions with a focus on keeping stride-length short and leg-turnover high. Having a goal of running two World Major Marathons just 6 days apart – Boston and London – has given us plenty of motivation to get us out the door to train every day.
Since we had raced in the Ultraman World Championships this past November, we had a solid endurance base to build upon, so we were able to turn our focus on speed and intensity. We even entered a local 5K race in February, just to get out and have some fun in a race setting with like-minded friends and fellow athletes. It was a great way to gauge fitness and build confidence towards the longer races coming up.
We also lead a RunClub for the lululemon Fairview store here in Montreal, so that’s a great motivator to get out and help others work on technique and prepare for the race season ahead. We love interacting and engaging with others at all levels and are planning to do shake-out runs with the lululemon stores in Boston and London before both marathons!
As our training gains momentum, we are looking forward to warmer temperatures and longer training days as winter gives way to spring. Meanwhile, we’ll try to keep the turnover of our feet speedy on the city streets of Montreal in anticipation of our marathon adventures – being sure to have a laugh or two along the way!
We are thrilled to be running the London Marathon on behalf of the Royal Museums Greenwich to help raise funds towards the restoration of the Cutty Sark. If you would like to support our efforts, please visit our JustGiving page at: https://www.justgiving.com/Kev-Kat/ – Thank you!
Running the ‘double’ for Cutty Sark – Boston & London 2016
This April, we will be taking on the challenge of running the Boston and London Marathons back to back – just 6 days apart, so we wanted to do something special to mark this occasion.
Giving back to the community has always been important to us, and the Royal Museums of Greenwich in London is giving us an opportunity to put our energy towards something tangible that has stood the test of time. Enter Cutty Sark.
Cutty Sark was built in Scotland in 1869 and is the world’s only surviving extreme clipper. In her time, she was an important lifeline for transporting goods between the major ports of call. Her travels have taken her from London to Shanghai, carrying large amounts of wine, spirits and beer, with the return voyages bringing back million pounds of tea. Over time, she also carried coal, jute and castor oil from Calcutta to Melbourne, and wool from Australia to England. She now resides in Greenwich London under the care of the Royal Museums Greenwich, as a memorial to the Merchant Navy and reminder of our past.
We ‘give a ship’!
We were intrigued by the rich history of this magnificent ship, and when we learned of the ongoing preservation effort, we wanted to jump-on-board and support this project. It’s a tangible artifact that we can see and touch, and the funds we help raise will be going towards restoring the ships lifeboats, navigation lamps, Captain’s gig, and chicken coops, as well as varnishing the ships original wooden structure.
Our Boston-London Marathon adventure will surely test our strength and resilience, but we’ll channel the immense energy of Cutty Sark to propel us on our journey and hope to give something back to her in exchange! We hope you will support our effort to help preserve this landmark for the future generations by donating to our Just Giving page at : https://www.justgiving.com/Kev-Kat