A crazy long run

I’d been wanting to do something a little epic on Saturday, but couldn’t decide what. But then I was invited to run along the Rundle Riverside trail from Canmore to Banff. “What a fantastic idea!” I said to myself, “And then if I’m still feeling chipper I could run up and down Sulphur Mountain as well, I’ve been meaning to do that.”

It’s been a while since I’ve ridden it, but I think Rundle Riverside makes a better running trail than biking trail. The Canmore end is horrifically rooty. After a while though, it eases off and becomes a very mellow mossy sort of trail, and it’s a bit disappointing when you’re suddenly spat out onto the golf course roads.

Nineteen kilometres later, and I was still feeling good, so I said goodbye to my running companion and headed out around the slopes of Sulphur to find the trail up the back. Past the Cave and Basin, towards Sundance Canyon, then a sudden left turn uphill, onto an old fire road.

The lower slopes of the back side of Sulphur are a bit un-inspiring. It’s just an overgrown fire road the whole way up, and while you’re down low, there’s not much of a view, just a fire road slog.

But then the view gets better.

And the trail climbs up into the sky.

Until suddenly you’re at the top! There are tourists everywhere, who took the gondola up, and are complaining about having to climb some boardwalk and stairs to get over to the summit peak itself.

I plunged on down the hill, intent on catching the 3pm bus back to Canmore. After running at a decent clip from the gondola base station to reach the downtown area, I made it with time to spare to go and buy a cold drink. Mission successful!

Now I just have to pack my bags to catch a flight to Australia this afternoon, where I’ll be visiting for three weeks.

Distance: 40km
Elevation gain: 1,330m

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