Emily Setlack, one of Canada’s most exciting street racers, tells us why she likes to climb mountains and race Man, the Canadian Mountain Running championships was such a fun race–I think the camaraderie is part of what makes mountain running so special.
Mountain running is an international sport recognized by the IAAF (International Association of Athletic Federations). The courses change every year from uphill (race up the mountain) to up/down (race up and then down the mountain). Canada hosts a Canadian Mountain Running Championships each year and it serves as a qualifier for the NACAC Mountain Running Championships and World Mountain Running Championships. The courses are gruelling and very challenging but the camaraderie, mountain views and fresh air make up for the burn one feels during the race. This year, the Canadian Mountain Running Championships were on an “up-only” course, meaning that we started at the base of Kicking Horse ski hill and ran to the Eagle’s Eye restaurant at the top of the mountain. The restaurant is at an elevation of 2,350m (7,700 feet). The distance was approximately 10 to 11 kilometres with 1,205m of ascent and 135m of descent.
Again, let me tell you—man, this is fun.
There are many things that make Mountain Running special, but most importantly the community surrounding it. I love the people that I get to meet at races, and always love catching up friends post race. I am not sure how others felt, but I felt a sense of camaraderie as we all tackled something challenging. We hung around at the top of Kicking Horse Mountain for a while before heading back down to the bottom for the awards at 1 pm. That afternoon/evening, we all went out for drinks and pizza at the Whitetooth Brewery in downtown Golden, BC. It was a hoot and we had a really good time.
I signed up for this race as I wanted to get into a race that allowed me to focus on the process, not the outcome. Everyone’s drive is different and I respect that some are driven by outcome, others by process. Canadian Mountain Running Championships provide a really great opportunity to focus on the basics—”run hard, make it hurt, do the best you can and have fun.” I really enjoyed the simple process of movement with one goal in mind: push yourself. No time to chase, no place to go after—just move as fast as you can to get up to the top of the mountain. One of the things that separates (in my opinion) mountain racing from road racing is that you don’t have to push yourself to get to the “dark place,” it’s inevitable. It’s all just a question of when.
My “when” was 1 kilometre into the race as I climbed up a very steep section of the course. My breathing and heart rate felt like it was “through the roof,” similar to how I might feel in the final 50m “sprint” (I can’t sprint) of a race. Not sure how one paces themselves in a mountain race, it’s going to hurt climbing up a mountain whether I run fast, steady or slow. May as well push hard and make it a steady burn! Above all things, what I absolutely love most about mountain racing is the incredible landscape and views, I felt like I was running through a painting. Although it hurt running up a mountain, it was motivating and inspiring to weave my way through such breathtaking landscape.
For more information on Canadian Trail & Mountain Racing. There are events in BC, Alberta and Ontario this month. Emily Setlack, cover star of iRun winter edition, recently competed in the World Half Marathon Championships held in Valencia in March. She won the Canadian Half Marathon Championship in 2016.