Trail running offers fitness with a view

A local couple wants to get people amped about getting back to nature while running.

Troy and Nadene Butler stand at the viewpoint of the Johnstone Street trailhead with their dog

“Why walk when you can run,” says avid trial runner Nadene Butler.

She’s been trail running for about seven years and considers herself addicted to the sport, which is growing in popularity across the region. She and her family, husband Troy and their two kids, often travel down to the Lower Mainland and the Sunshine Coast to participate in events — the last time she entered a race in Powell River, their hometown, she set the woman’s record and was ahead of the pack by half an hour.

“Trail running is getting huge,” she says. “And up here in the north there are so many beautiful spots.” Plus, there is a great, active and involved outdoor racing community.

Trail running is exactly what it sounds like — running on mountain trails that are usually used for hiking or biking.

Nadene and Troy are hoping to revitalize the sport here in Terrace, specifically the 35th annual King of the Mountain footrace taking place on August 26. The race has seen its participant numbers dwindle over the past few years, but the couple hopes that by getting the word out early — and hosting a trail orientation run later this month — they can attract around 50 competitors.

It doesn’t take much to get into trail running, Nadene says. “Good shoes, water, maybe a dog, music,” she says. It’s pretty simple. “You just have to watch where you’re going at all times,” she says.

The Butler’s regularly run on the Johnstone Street trail, with their dog, Zipper, and stop to take in the view up top. “I lived here  for years and never knew about this spot,” says Troy. Aside from the view, the workout they get trail running trumps how their bodies feel after concrete running.

With trail running, you’re using your whole body to stabilize, Nadene explains. “There are no cars,” she says. “You rarely run into anybody.”

There are a couple of different options for beginner trail runners, depending on the level of athleticism. There are easy trails on Ferry Island, as well as the Howe Creek trail. The Johnstone Street trail is a good next step. Runners can even take the mountain bike loop all the way around, keeping in mind that bikers have the right of way — but it is usually easy to hear bikers coming, says Nadene.

Another option is the new Steinhoe Ridge trail. Two kilometres are completed now, with six more to come. Access it from the recently completed T2 trail, which branches off the Terrace Mountain trail and crosses over Kitselas Road, leading to a beautiful viewpoint. It’s not as steep as the hiking trail. As with any sort of mountain sport, it’s best to have a buddy (or a dog) and to remember to be bear aware.

The King of the Mountain footrace in August will have a slightly different course than years before, mostly so the race can avoid the highway. Maps will be available before the race, and Nadene and Troy are hosting an orientation run on Sunday, July 8 to introduce people to trail running and show them the route. For more information, call 250-638-2099, or simply meet them at the Sportsplex at 10 a.m. on the 8th. The Butlers will also be attending the 4th annual Salmon Run, this Sunday the 24th.