Whistler Running Experience takes it off-road 

Group offering free trail running nights

Running is good for you. It burns calories, builds cardiovascular capacity, lowers blood pressure, builds lean muscle mass, and, if done often enough, it can even trigger an endorphin rush.

It can also be boring, repetitive and hard on your joints.

Those are only some of the reasons why more and more people are getting off of the pavement and onto the trails.

That’s where Whistler Running Experience comes in.

Last fall, Duncan Munro and Scott Whelan started to offer guided trail running tours to visitors to Whistler, helping them find their way around the huge and often confusing trail network.

"We basically came up with the idea watching people running through the village, or because we were always meeting other runners out there on the trails who couldn’t find their way around. There are so many great trails and awesome views out there, if you know where to go," said Munro.

"We can help people find all the good trails, and maximize their running experience as well. We meet them at their hotels, get to know what they’re looking for, do a little stretching and head out. Some of them just want to know where the good spots are, and some want to learn how to trail run.

"Most of the people we’ve guided are already runners, but they’ve never been off the road before. It’s a totally different sport."

The majority of their clients have some trail running experience, although they can offer any kind of custom tour to visitors of all abilities. A trail run is usually about an hour, but Munro and Whelan do get a few special requests. One client even signed up for a round trip run to Russet Lake and back over the musical bumps, while others are interested in running Comfortably Numb.

They have even created their own trail running difficulty system, modelled on the green, blue and black ski hill designations. The Molly Hogan trail would be a green trail, while a black diamond would include trails like River Runs Through It, No Horses and the White Gold Traverse.

In addition to guidance on the trail, Whistler Running Experience also offers clients trail running clinics, with advice on technique, equipment, stretching and nutrition. Safety is also important as there is a risk of falling on the trails and rolled ankles, hazards that are less likely with road running.

"Trail running is a lot easier on the joints, you don’t get shin splints or problems with your knees. There’s a lot more lateral movement, turning, going side to side instead of just straight, so a lot of people are running to work on their balance and core stability," said Munro.

The biggest reason people are getting into trail running however is the experience of being in nature, Munro says.

"You don’t get bored on the trails. First of all it’s a bit of a mind game picking out the best route down the trails. Being out in nature like that also gives you energy. You can stop along the way to check things out, or make it your goal to get to a lookout. It’s definitely a lot more fun than running down a road," he said.

In addition to offering guiding services to visitors, Whistler Running Experience is hosting a free weekly trail run, organized through Escape Route. They meet at the store in Marketplace every Tuesday at 6 p.m. and break into groups according to their abilities for trail runs. All you need to take part is a good pair of trail running shoes.

To make it more interesting Munro and Whelan recently held a "hash hound" run, a kind of scavenger hunt where runners follow letters and clues along the trails to a station with watermelon and refreshments.

This winter the pair plan to host a trail snowshoe running clinic called Ready For the Yeti to prepare runners for the Yeti snowshoe running series, which stops in Whistler.

Their Web site is not ready yet but you’ll be able to find out more about Whistler Running Experience in the next few weeks at www.whistlerrunning.com. For more information on tours or the weekly trail running series call 604-935-URUN (8786).

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