Kelly Funk
To already be 1,255m elevated (4,116 feet) at the base of Sun Peaks Resort’s picturesque Tod Mountain outside Kamloops, B.C. – and then start a seven-minute climb in the easiest of three mountain races – well, it was exhilarating. With fresh mountain air filling my lungs, I participated in the 5km event September 8th. While waiting for the start, I enjoyed the alpine vistas, the Nordic bike trails, wild flowers – and even a doe bounding up through the long grass beneath the chair lift – all serving as a back drop to an unforgettable gem of a place.

The weather was perfect – a runner’s paradise – sunny, yet cool enough to enjoy the run. During the weekend, my partner John and I soaked up the atmosphere, watched the 50 km on Saturday, and viewed the 16km mountain race start before we ran the 5 km fun run Sunday. There was a great sense of community spirit amongst the other runners during our stay. At the turnaround, following the long hill section, some of the lead runners extended a hand, offering ‘high fives’ to their slower competitors.

If you are looking for a destination run or weekend getaway, the Sun Peaks Dirty Feet Trail Running Series is organized by the dynamic duo of Phil and Grace Hiom and offers well-organized trail events for every level of runner. I enjoyed the last turn en route to the finish where many spectators were there to cheer us on. I enjoyed running on the Nordic ski trails and would do it again.

Kinga Urbanovich, who participated along with her partner, Alan Yamamoto, and her father, Ernest, said, “I have to give credit to the organizers and the volunteers of this event. They did an incredible job marking the trail and setting up for the event. It almost felt as though we were part of an elite group. It was the first year for Dirty Feet’s 50km trail run and I hope next year more people will come out and do the race. I know I will be there,” Urbanovich gushed afterward.

President Christopher Nicolson from Sun Peaks Tourism said, “Both the valley and the alpine have seen significant growth in runners over the past couple of years. The alpine bowls in particular provide an intoxicating environment to run.”

As an added bonus, 70-year-old Canadian Senator, Olympic gold medalist and Sun Peaks resident of 25 years, Nancy Greene-Raine was spotted near the chair lift. Still looking extremely fit, she loves her “mountain playground,” and along with her husband, Al, who is mayor of Sun Peaks, are its most prominent citizens.

Phil Hiom said, “We are happy with the whole event and foresee it only growing from here. We are excited for our upcoming 2014 season to make all of our races bigger and better.” This year in the first annual 50km Solo and Relay there were 40 participants, 49 in the 16km and 71 in the 5km event.

Christine Blanchette is a freelance writer who lives in Burnaby, B.C. When she is not writing – she is hitting the trails.

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