Ask 20 trail runners what they think about running in the night. You'll be lucky to find that even 2 of them have even dared to try skipping over the roots and rocks of their favorite trails after the sun has gone down.
An eclectic group of characters assembled by a deserted sports field in North Vancouver last night looking to celebrate Fat Tuesday in a different way. Several had never run trails in the night. We had representatives of South African, Germany and France and at least one person who was born in the neighborhood and could literally run the course with his eyes closed.
In this the 11th edition of the Capilano Canyon Mardi Gras night run, nobody pulled a Mikey Parks ("What, you mean I need to bring a flashlight?"), so we managed to start on time.
The group quickly split into two, with about a third challenging the long course and the balance out to tackle the 13K. As with all Club events, participants follow either written instructions or someone who knows the course. Shem and Craig were having so much fun chatting, they missed the first turn and ran straight up Mosquito Creek toward the snow-covered mountains. This is what we call a "custom" or "roll-your-own" course.
I had the pleasure of running with 3 enthusiastic people whose eyes were being opened to running in the dark. Joanna, Brent, Valerie and I found a comfortable pace as we ran along deserted side streets toward the canyon. Goodness, I thought, if we could maintain this speed, we could claim bragging rights for being top finishers!
One couldn't have hoped for a better night for a night run in February. You could look up and see stars if you dared to take your eyes off the trail for a couple of seconds. Given the unseasonably warm weather, it wasn't long before the layers started to be pealed. On the long straightaway leading down to the fish hatchery, we looked back and saw the bobbing lights of other pace groups piercing the inky darkness. We paused briefly on the narrow trail up the west side of the canyon and shone our headlamps on Grandpa Capilano, the 500-year old giant of the canyon. Nobody's light was powerful enough to highlight the top of the tree.
We paused again briefly just under the hour mark at Aid Station Adams, a friendly oasis with chocolate chip cookies, water and salty potato chips. Thank you, Ron Adams, for all you do to help those who pass by in the night in February and August!
"Hey, I know where we are!", exclaimed Joanna when we popped out of the woods next to a grocery store where street lights illuminated the surroundings. Back on the trail next to Mosquito Creek, it was back to following a tiny tunnel of light. Note to self...replace batteries in the headlamp or win the Mikey Parks award!
When all participants had been checked-in, we reconvened at the Harry Jerome rec center for a well-deserved soak in the hot tub and a few laps in the pool. We pretty-much had the place to ourselves. It would have been easy to close the place down and hit the pillow, but by 9:30, consensus was it was time for dinner.
The final destination of the evening was a potluck feast. Thanks to everyone, there was plenty of fine food and drink and an abundance of stories. Yes, John did eat the worm.
Thank you for joining us. We hope to see you out for the Midsummer Night Dream
version of the Capilano Canyon Night run in August!
Sibylle and Ean
Co-Hosts of the Capilano Canyon Night Run