Years ago I couldn’t run more than 15km without my IT-band seizing and getting a severe pain in my knee.  5 years ago I ran the Calgary marathon and tried to run through the pain.  I ended up really damaging my IT-band and was out for 6 months recovering.  I had come close to resigning myself that I may just not be able to run more than a half marathon.  On a shot in the dark I went into a physio clinic and signed up for a running assessment (I was actually trying to burn leftover heath benefits).  The verdict was that I was a habitual heel striker.  Recommendations were simple:

  • Run in minimalist shoes
  • Run with a cadence of more than 175 steps per minute
  • Change up runs with tempo, long, intervals
  • Ramp up miles no more than 10% a week
  • Use walk-run while ramping

To be honest the biggest change I felt was increasing my cadence and being conscience about smaller faster strides.  The result was I could run as long as I wanted with absolutely no knee pain.  I did suffer extremely sore calves which I attributed to the new stride, but that faded as the new muscles got use to the new stride.

With this new found ability I decided to see if I could run a marathon.  I signed up for the Calgary marathon and took it easy.  My humble goal was to at least finish, in under 4 hours.  I completed it in 3:45 and felt great the whole time.  With this momentum I registered for the Banff Marathon and ran it in 3:31.  I was feeling so good after I kept running for another 8km.  50km was the longest I had ever run and I felt great.

2017 Calgary Marathon @ 3:46:45

2017 Banff Marathon @ 3:31:41


Getting bored of road running, I decided to look into trail running options.  There is actually quite a few world class runs in the Alberta Rockies and I signed up for the Iron Legs 60km Ultra to see what would happen.  At this point I was still gunshy about injury, but I had been running for a year with absolutely no issues so I put in some training miles and showed up.

I went with the Ultimate Direction Mountain 3.0 vest and its been one of the vest purchases I’ve made.  Unbelievably comfortable and has pockets at all the right places.  Expensive, but worth every penny.  I went with heavier shoes than I normally would run in, but it turned out to be a good decision with the really rough terrain I would encounter.

Race day was a perfect summer day without a cloud in the sky.

The race started at sunrise with an easy 10km cruise along Elbow Valley train towards the Powerface staging area.  It was a mass start on single track so the pace was very regulated and slower than I would have started, but I followed the lead of others.  Walking up steep hills and taking it easy for the first 10km seemed the norm.  The sun was rising by the time we hit Powderface Creek Trail and continued on a gradual incline for another 10km.

At this point I was 21km into the race and feeling great.  Lets were fine, early pacing meant I had lots of energy and the weather was amazing.  Reaching Powederface Ridge Trail was a very steep switchback heading up to the ridge.  Running turned into power walking until we crested the top.

Once at the top I followed the ridgeline waiting to see the next marker.  I could see another runner out in the distance so assumed I was on the right track.  It turned out someone had removed the red marker tape the night before and about 10 of us ran past the turnoff, running to end of the ridge which came to a steep drop.  Realize I made a mistake I ran back about 2km until I could find the last marker.  There was a switchback leading down the backside of Powerface Ridge, but with no markers it was a drop of faith that it was the right way.  By this time we had 10 of us bunched up and the drop from the ridge was a fast pounding potential ankle destroying journey down to the bottom aid station.  Frustrated with the wrong turn I just let gravity take me, and the trail was perfect for a quick descent. 


30km in to the race, and feeling great lead me to my first inexperienced decision.  I blasted past the aid station grabbing nothing but a quick refill of water on one of my bottles.  The race had been relatively easy, weather nice and cool and I was feeling good.  The decision was made to just keep going. 

I would end up in the most grueling section of the course: Ford Knoll Trail and Ford Creek Trail.  I was not expecting steep incline after incline.  The declines were too steep to run, so they took just as much energy as the inclines.  By this time the mid day heat arrived and the temp was getting close to 30oC.  By the end of the trail I was getting mentally pounded and running out of water.  The third aid station couldn’t have come soon enough.  I loaded up on water, fruit and anything I could get down.  My stomach had rejected gels after the 3rd or 4th so I needed another mechanism to get electrolytes and sugars back in my body. 

Hooking on to Prairie Creek Trail would provide a great yet technical route back to Elbow Valley Trail.  It was smooth and provided a good opportunity to stretch the legs.  The way back we hooked onto Sulphur Springs Trail, which would normally be a great easy way to finish, but by this time the sun was in full force and the trail was totally exposed to the sun.  I was baking and started to feel the effects of heat stroke.  At the top some saintly volunteers were handing out freezies.  I ate it so fast it gave me a crushing brain freeze, but I was dying for a way to cool down. 

The Sulphur Springs trail back side was in the thick forest and smooth trail which made for some easy cruising back to the end.  Getting sloppy I stumbled on a tree root and in an attempt to stop myself from falling on my face did a quick stutter step. Immediately my legs felt like a jolt of electricity went through them, my calves instantly seized up and I slammed to the ground.  Rolling around, screaming on the ground like and idiot as my my legs felt like my achillies had snapped, one of the runners up in front of me heard and came back.  By this time I was laying in the brush with both legs stretched out straight, pain was slowly starting to fade and my embarrassment urged him to continue on. I lay there for another minute, absolutely gutted that I would injure myself this close to the finish.  I got up, started slowing walking, then into a slow run and after about 500 meters was feeling 100% again – strange. 

Feeling great and day dreaming I missed the last turn and ended up coming out in a field by the highway.  By this time I was just done, yet doubled back a kilo to the trail and took the right trail back to Station Flats and the finish line.

(below pictures are not mine, but are of the optional 80km route up moose mountain) 

It was nice to see my wife and little kids had come out to greet me.  My oldest was dressed up as a ninja and wanted to play flight with me, yet I just laid down and tried to recover.

The high of finishing subsided in about 15 minutes and the reality of heat stroke kicked in.  I wasn’t feeling tired, but the constant ingestion of gels and sugars was putting me off.  About 20 minutes after finishing I puked my guts out, then felt back to 100%. 

My total time was 9:38:02, my goal was to beat 10 hours so I was happy about that.  It wasn’t the distance that was hard, it was the elevation and heat.  Just under 2700 meters for the day.  

Overall it was a great day, very well organized event and one of the most enjoyable activities I’ve done in a long time.  With 60km under my belt I’m interested in the 80km next year, but lets not get ahead of ourselves.

Check out my relive.

Three years ago (in 2012), I sent out an email to a group of friends about hiking to Mount Assiniboine.  Its a mountain that sits just over the Alberta border in British Columbia.  Growing up skiing at Sunshine Village, I’ve always wondered where the vast meadows around the ski resort lead.  After reading a hiking blog that claimed it was one of the most outstanding hikes in the world I had to do it. 

The above picture is not mine, but was referenced here.

Considering I was born and raised within the vicinity of this range, yet never ventured out made we want to hike this segment.  As normally occurs peoples lives get busy and I found myself without anyone willing to go.  In the last minute my buddy Ryan, who always seems up for adventure, committed and it was on.  We only had 3 days, and it planned to be about 60-70km of hiking.

Below is the main trail.  We spent a day hiking around Mount Assiniboine and up to Nub Peak.  It would be easy to spend a week in this area exploring.


The night before I weighed my bag – 57lbs.  Fifty pounds is easy to carry for a few hours, but after a few days i didn’t think it would be bearable.  I did replace my 1990 backpack with a new bag from MEC.  Its amazing how much lighter and how much better the material is in new gear.  Lesson 1: if you are serious about doing back country hiking, invest in some decent gear.  I managed to shed about 5 pounds from by bag before leaving, but I did sneak 4 can of 500ml beers in the bag before finalizing the load.  I didn’t tell Ryan, but thought we could use a couple cold pints of beer when we made it to Assiniboine.  The morning of I said bye to my new family and took off for a few days of adventure.

Day Before:

The day before we dropped Ryan’s car off at Mount Shark then took my car together to Canmore.  We crashed in Canmore staying in luxury, knowing we had a few days of roughing it ahead.  I had free hotel points, otherwise we would have slept in the parking lot.


We dropped out gear off and went out for a good meal.  On the way back we picked up a bottle of scotch to fill our flasks.  At the end of a long day its nice to have drink, and the weight to benefit ratio of a good Scotch cant be beat.  I had not told Ryan about the 4 beers i had stacked in my bag.

Day 1: Sunshine Village to Assiniboine (Magog Lake Campground) – 30km

Our plan was to park a car at the Sunshine Skihill parking lot, then take the bus up to the starting point at Sunshine Village.  The first bus leaves at 8am, but after staying up late and one scotch too many we opted to make the 9am bus.

The weather was perfect.  Our destination for the day was Magog Lake Campground, but if we got tired or the day got late there were a few stops we could pitch tents along the way.  The starting location in Sunshine Village, a ski resort in the winter.  The area had a number of day hikers starting out, but we were the only overnights.  In total 30km day we only passed 2 other hiking groups plus a runner who was going the same direction.

The hike to the top of the ski hill is gradual and marked with a wide pea gravel path.  Families and even a few young kids were hiking this segment.  Once you reach the top you are rewarded by the Sunshine Meadow:


Looking back you can see the trail leading back to Sunshine including the charlift station at the top of the hill.  

This hiking was easy and rewarding, something that would make a great family day hike.


Once you get to the end of the meadow, you reach Citadel Pass which has a drop leading down into Golden Valley.  There is a campgroup here (Porcupine), but the day was early and we kept going.

Getting to the bottom of the pass you finally reach Valley of the Rocks, and amazing place where we saw Mountain Goats climbing around.

At the end of this valley you come up a small hill and get the first glimpse of Mount Assiniboine:

It was easy to get a second wind here, but the reality was there was still about 12km of hiking left before we would reach the Assiniboine area.  We hiked for a few more kilometers to Og Lake and decided to make some lunch.

Ry also ventured down to Og lake to refill our water packs.  I had brought my Katadyn water filter so as long as we were near stream or lake we would have lots of water.

We considered tenting here for the night, but after a good meal decided we could push on to Magog Lake Campground about 6km further ahead.  The hike from Og was flat and easy through the last valley.  The whole time you are rewarded with better and better views of Assiniboine.  By this time however, we were both exhausted and the day was starting to feel like a slog.  I was regretting packing 2 liters of beer and considered stopping for a drink, but it wouldnt feel right before we reached out destination.

Upon reaching Magog Lake the views of the Assiniboine area were outstanding.

We reached the camp before dark and managed to get our tents up while there was still lots of light.  The campground was perfect, but would definitely fill up on busy weekends. 

By the time we had our tents setup and ventured down to the cooking areas it was totally black out.  I opted to save the beers for tomorrow evening and we opted for a glass of scotch and a cigar instead. 

The nights really cool down that high in the mountains and it was really cold by the time we crashed.  The good thing about a long day is you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, regardless of the temperature.

Day 2: Nub Peak and around Magog Lake (30km)

The following is a good map of the Assiniboine Area from the Assiniboine Lodge Site.

We woke up to perfect blue skies and a great view of Mount Assiniboine from our campground.


We went and filled out the proper paperwork (missed it the previous night) and had a hearty breakfast.

After breakfast we set off to hike up to Nub Peak.  It offers one of the best views of the lake and Mount Assiniboine, and is one of the most popular places to take pictures of the valley.  We hiked the long way up around lake Magog, and by Sunburst Lake and Cerulean Lake.

Along Sunburst Lake:

After Sunburst Lake the path winds up towards Nub Peak.  In the distance you can see Elizabeth Lake.  Upon reaching the Nublet, you can start to see a view of Assiniboine.

Looking down you can see the 3 lakes leading up to Mount Assiniboine.

The peak of Mount Assiniboine is forbidding.  We stop for lunch and watch a helicopter circle over the summit for some time.  Later we learned it was a rescue operation.  A climber in his 60s had always wanted to summit Assiniboine, but after reaching the top he was unable to muster the energy to climb back down.  The helicopter was brought in to take him off the top with a harness.

After a bite to eat, we decided to hike up to the Nublet.  It is about half way up Nub Peak.  As we go up the trail the views get better and better.

Our destination:

A look back at the Niblet:


Made it to the Nublet.  Amazing views of the surrounding area.

One thing I’ll give Ryan is that he is not afraid of heights.  Climbing out onto outcrops to take a picture or check out a view gives me extreme anxiety.  Dammit Ry.

We kept going to reach Nub Peak.

At the summit is a chair someone built in stone.

Its the perfect place to chill and checkout the surrounding area.  There are a number of small walls built out of stones, I suspect it can get windy up here at times.

The ridge continuing on past Nub Peak, not climbable, at least I wasnt going to attempt it. 

Looking down at Assiniboine Lodge with the red roof in the distance.

The valley we came in through the previous day.

End of the trail

Looking down at Og Lake where we stopped for lunch on Day 1:

One of the many Inukshuks on the peak: 

A marmot running around up top:

After some time on the peak we decided to head back down, the opposite side we came up.  This trail heads back to the Assiniboine Lodge.  Back at the Lodge we were exhausted and found out they sold beer, perfect way to end a great hike.  I started to feel silly lugging 2 super cans of beer up in my pack when we can just buy cold beer from the lodge.

Cold beer on the patio:

Heading out from the Lodge we decided to hike around the back side of the lake ie. the long way around, to get back to our camp site.  There was a line of the map indicating a trail, so I assumed it would be straight forward.

View out from the Lodge:

The trail started easy but quickly turned into boldering.  Normally it wouldn’t be a problem, but we were 25km into a day and just ready to get back to our camp and eat before it was dark.

View back across the lake towards the Lodge:

Sunset on Assiniboine


We got back to camp just as the sun was going down behind the horizon.  We were both famished and fired up the stoves to make some dinner.

I must say the beers we brought were good:

We crashed early, after dinner, beer and more scotch and I slept unbelievably sound.

Day 3: Assiniboine to Shark Mountain (via Wonder Pass) – (30km)

We decided to take the longer, more scenic Wonder Pass route back to Mount Shark.  There is a more direct Horse Path, but a group of hikers we passed mentioned it was not nearly as scenic as Wonder Pass.  In hindsight it was a great decision.

We got reasonable start in the morning and felt remarkably fine considering the past two days we had.  Although my pack was significantly lighter (no beer, less food), it didn’t actually feel any lighter.  We passed the Naiset Lodge, the only other Lodge in the area.  Where as the Assiniboine Lodge is very luxurious, the Naiset Lodge is as basic as it comes, just a stove and roof.  If I did another trip, especially in the winter I would love to stay here.

Hike up towards Wonder Pass.

Fuel for the day.

Crossing back into Alberta.

Valley leading down to Marvel Lake, one of the most scenic and amazing places we came across.

Its a large lake in a steep valley and the pictures just dont do it justice.

We came out at Bryant Creek and lost the trail.  We had to blaze our own trail, or at least follow what we assumed was the trail until we finally stumbled back onto the main trail.



We stopped at Big Springs Campground to refill our water and have lunch.  I had brought my water filter which makes it easy to fill up whenever you need (or whenever its accessible).  

The trail from here was flat and forested. Not much for views, but super enjoyable, especially after the elevation we had scrambled in the past few days.

As you get closer to Mount Shark you start to see the Cross Country Ski trails and signs in the area.  I’ll definitely have to come back in the winter.

The home stretch:


We made it!  What a trip, definietly one of the highlight hikes I’ve ever done.  Amazing weather, good company and stunning scenery.

We drove back to pickup my car from the Sunshine Parking lot.  

Ryan and I head into Canmore for a beer and hearty meal.  I love this area and will definitely return.  I’m hoping to get out in the winter and ski from Mount Shark to Assiniboine Lodge.  Otherwise, I’d love to try to jog from Sunshine to Mount Shark in a day.  Time shall tell.



Where: Chester Lake, Alberta

Total Distance: 9.5 km

Having two kids really changes the types of adventures that fills your weekends, however, we decided as a family to test our stamina with a short yet rewarding hike up to Chester Lake.

One of us is excited

One of us is excited

The route is well marked and easy to follow.  The hike is a decent ascent up to Chester Lake, where we planned to have a picnic.

Chester Lake Hike

The route up is a wide easy trail and offers little views until you reach the top.


2015-07-05 Mount Chester 018_576x768 2015-07-05 Mount Chester 015_1024x768 2015-07-05 Mount Chester 010_1024x768


Once at the top the scenery is spectacular and well worth the “climb”:

2015-07-05 Mount Chester 028_1024x768

2015-07-05 Mount Chester 043_1024x768

2015-07-05 Mount Chester 067_1024x768

At the top is Chester Lake.  We were running short of time, but there is the option to hike around.  There is also a fork to head up to the elephant rocks.  We did not go, but it is highly recommended and only a few hundred meters further.

2015-07-05 Mount Chester 066_1024x768 2015-07-05 Mount Chester 065_1024x768

We stopped for a picnic and relaxed before heading back.

2015-07-05 Mount Chester 075_1024x768

2015-07-05 Mount Chester 055_1024x768 2015-07-05 Mount Chester 050_1024x768

Halfway was almost 4.5km, yet it took us 1 hour and 45 minutes due to the frequent stops with the little ones.

2015-07-05 Mount Chester 073_1024x768

2015-07-05 Mount Chester 084_1024x768 2015-07-05 Mount Chester 080_1024x768

The way down has an option to branch from the main trail, it is the same distance, but provides a bit of change from the route up.  Overall, it was a good hike for kids and well worth the trip.  The drive back to Calgary we stopped in Canmore and had dinner before driving home.

Heading back to Calgary was anti-climatic, I’d already been reunited with Ash and had a blast with buddies at the wedding.  The ride back from Penticton felt more like a choir, but it was perfect day and easy ride back.  Ryan stayed in the Okanagan for a few more days so I was solo back into town.


02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 853_1024x768


Last border crossing:


02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 861_1024x768


Overall it was a great trip, loved every minute of it, even the multiple breakdowns – all part of the trip.  It felt good to get back home and integrate back into the daily grind knowing the next big adventure is just around the next corner.


Home sweet home.


My buddy Terrence and his now wife Tara were getting married in Naramata.  I was stressed about making sure I made it there in time, and we rolled in with a day to spare.  The wedding was in a beautiful winery on the Naramata hill overlooking lake Okanagan:




Out of my smelly moto gear and into an equally hot black suit.  My hand was permanently seized in the throttle position:

02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 802_1024x768

Final picture of Ry and I on this trip:


Wedding house guest:


Another house guest, not part of the dinner service:


I’d say its fair to say Ry had a good time at the wedding:




02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 844_1024x768

We spent a day touring vineyards and soaking up the sun at the beach.  It was great to unwind, and meet back up with Ash.

02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 771_1024x768

02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 782_1024x768

I dont have a lot of pictures posted of people we met and hung out with along the way.  I try to ensure I have peoples permission before I post their picture, not sure how many people want to immortalized on my blog without the ability to take their picture down should they want to.

02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 787_1024x768

Willie bought me a beach towel knowing I was packing light and showing up to Penticton without one – thanks buddy!

02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 828_1024x768

I woke up before dawn to try to make it to Penticton early enough to meet Ash as she was driving in with my buddy Willie from Calgary.  Ryan planned on sleeping in, spending the day in Seattle and heading up in the evening.  It was the first time we split up since leaving Calgary weeks ago.

The morning was brisk and I decided to take a secondary highway through Washington state, instead of the main freeway.  The sun came out, the scenery was stunning and I was feeling great.

02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 726_1024x768

I was in no rush and soaked in the empty country road cruising just below the speed limit (which was a rough estimate since my bike speedometer was only in km/hr)  I passed a ranger station and the speed limit dropped, it road was empty and I slowed down to about 50-60km/hr, however passing a ranger station was about 40km/hr.  I didn’t think anything of it until I spotted red and blue lights flashing in my rear view.

I pull over and figure I couldn’t be that much over and will get a trooper inquisitive about my trip, a slap on the wrist and sent on my way.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  He struts over and I have my helmet off in preparation to talk to him.  He tells me I’m speeding, then looks down and notices I have a ipod on my tank bag.  The earphones were not in my ear (as I pulled them before he walked over), but he asks if I was listening to them when I rode by.  Being honest I said yes (in actuality I had the earphones in for noise reduction, but no music playing).  He tells me that it is illegal to listen to earphones on a motorcycle in Washington State.  I apologize and tell him I’ll put them away.  He takes my license and walks off.

At this time I’m still in a great mood, feeling the cool mountain air and not another car on the road.  He comes back and hands me two tickets, one for speeding and one for listening to my headphones.  I tell him I’ll pay for the speeding, but that I just finished 6,000 miles on my bike and didnt realize this jurisdiction doesn’t allow headphones, asking for a break on that ticket. (I actually asked the border guards in Montana and they told me its fine and recommended the best headphones to use while riding).  He says no, and tells me to sign the back of the two tickets.  I told him before I sign I want to understand what the process is to fight the ticket, he takes it back, writes ‘SERVED’ on the tickets, slaps them on my bag and walks off.

02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 734_1024x768

I’m left feeling gutted, the trooper was completely rude and totally took the wind out of my sail.  As an ambassador for Washington he really soured my experience.  I was polite, respectful and generally in a good mood when stopped.  I left pissed off, more about the cloud he cast on my day than the $500 in tickets he left me with.  What I also didn’t realize is that when he served me he left my license on my tailbag with the tickets.  I scooped up the tickets but didn’t see my license.  I was flustered and didn’t notice he had not returned it.  My license would fly off somewhere down the highway.  Which was great because I was pulled over the last day of my trip and because I didn’t have my license received a ticket.

02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 742_1024x768

Trying not to let the rude trooper experience get to me I moved on trying to salvage the day.  The scenery was stunning and eventually I was back in a good mood.  I was also really happy with the choice to take the highway less traveled.  It was almost worth the $500 in tickets the State of Washington managed to pry from my depleted wallet.




02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 756_1024x768

It actually felt good to hit the border, knowing I was meeting back up with Ash and a number of my good friends at my friend Terence’s wedding.

The lineup was short and easy to pass through.  Years ago Americans and Canadians could pass through each others borders with nothing more than a drivers license.  Those times are done and moving back and forth requires passports and security screening.  Its too bad that two countries with such a longstanding friendship have one of the most controlled and regulated borders.

02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 764_1024x768

Oh Canada

02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 769_576x768

BC has one of the most modest border signs I’ve ever seen.

02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 769_576x7682

I rolled into the place we rented which was right on the lake in Pencticton.  I love the Okanagan and was looking forward to spending a few days relaxing before wrapping up the trip.

02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 775_1024x768


Was an easy ride into Seattle, but stopping along the way and getting a late start we knew we would likely arrive at our destination in the dark yet again.

First stop was in Portland, great city

02 - Cabo Motorcycle Trip 724_1024x768

Finally arriving in Seattle late and grabbing a place close to the highway.



The plan was for me to wake up early and head out to Penticton to meet my girlfriend (as she came out a bit early not knowing my schedule).  Ryan was going to sleep in and meet me there later that day.  Was the first time we were going our own ways, we had become quite familiar with our routine and it signified the eventual end of our trip and getting back to the realities of life.