This story originally ran in the Fall 2015 (V9I3) edition of Yukon, North of Ordinary.
“Wow, I really regret that workout.” – No one. Ever.
As I neared the halfway point, the sun began rising, shedding soft light through the clouds and onto Emerald Lake in the distance. Adrenaline coursed through me as I pushed to maintain a steady pace. Music pumped through my headphones, but otherwise here was nothing but wilderness to keep me company—the epitome of peacefulness.
When I finally reached the checkpoint, I was greeted by familiar faces and a sense of accomplishment. That 14-kilometre stretch of the Klondike Road Relay wouldn’t have been much for many, but on my personal checklist it was a milestone.
Whether motivated by stunning scenery or for health’s sake, people in this territory are an active crowd. Sure, the summertime has its midnight-sun appeal, but even in the depths of 40 below, people are eager to get out on the trails, mountains, and lakes and get their hearts pumping.
Growing up just west of Toronto, my previous exercise routine was more on the urban side: dance or yoga classes at a nearby studio, visits to the gym, or simply rushing through the city on foot.
Actual running—not just to avoid missing a bus or train—had never appealed to me. I wasn’t a fan of the treadmill, let alone hitting the trails. Then in 2013, after persistent coaxing from a friend, I bought a new pair of running shoes, put my previous opinions aside, and decided this whole jogging thing was worth a try.
Taking a tip from Aesop’s The Tortoise and the Hare, I started slow and steady—running a minute then walking a minute. In time, I found myself gliding along the trails in Whitehorse with more strength, speed, and self-confidence. Bonus: I didn’t hate it.
I grew fond of the solitude, striding through areas with lush greenery under the warmth of the sun. It became a break from writing, stress, and life. While I had the odd running mate join me, it was usually just my dog, my music, and myself. Like with most things in my life, I work well under pressure or with a goal in mind. That’s why I didn’t hesitate when friends offered last fall to have me on their Klondike Road Relay team, an event that will once again have runners travel from Skagway, Alaska, to Whitehorse this Sept. 11–12. That invite presented me with a renewed reason to get out there.
For someone who was once averse to the habit, I couldn’t have picked a better place to take up the activity. Canadian Running magazine recently published a short list of the best cities with crisp, clean air for running, and Whitehorse made the cut.
It isn’t always an easy hobby; some runs are certainly harder than others, but it has become a sweet escape. And the best part is all it took was a dose of willpower and a good pair of shoes to make it a habit.
Perhaps I’ll see some of you out there on the trails.