“No one’s going to like me after this,” I bemoaned as Michael, Taylor and I trekked our way up the longest hill section of the run, “No one is going to want to come over afterwards because everyone is going to resent my sadistic route planning!”
Growing up in North Van, hills are pretty much just a part of day to day life. I don’t think that I have ever gone on a truly flat run in my entire life. The route I planned for the Harvest Hustle was no different. 20 kilometres, 933 metres of elevation gain, and all of the roots, rocks, and mud you can imagine. In other words, a blissful combination of fun and pure hell. To sweeten the deal, I promised a potluck feast at my house after the run, then posted the event on the VOC calendar, wondering if anyone would be crazy enough to join me.
We met at Old Buck parking lot at 2 pm. I hid in Gabe’s mini van and we watched as the sky opened up. It was as if every drop of rain that did not fall this summer had been waiting for this particular moment to make a cheeky descent back down to ground level. Remarkably, all of the runners showed up, and after a little faffing, we were on our way.
We started off on a hill (of course). We quickly split off into two groups: the “let’s try to run up all of the hills” group composed of Michael, Taylor, and myself, and the far more rational “let’s power hike up the hills so that we don’t die” squad led my ultra runner mom.
Our first loop took us through a maze of mountain bike trails and up Seymour Grind, a particularly treacherous section of the Baden Powell. The rain had let up, and between conversations we quietly took in the low misty clouds and mossy forest. Still feeling strong, we took on the second, much longer loop. We followed the Baden Powell down to the Seymour River, and then began a windy, endless ascent that peaked at the Vancouver Lookout Parking Lot on Mount Seymour. Our legs were burning and we were all (internally) questioning my sanity, but somehow we managed to run the last four kilometres back to the car without any permanent damage. High fives were exchanged at the parking lot, and then we headed to my house to wait for the second group.
Our efforts were well rewarded by the unintentionally vegetarian but delicious feast that followed. Runners enjoyed between one and three platefuls of salad, broccoli casserole, lasagna, mashed potatoes, quinoa, yams, and bread. We finished off with chocolate cake and pumpkin pie. Our bodies were tired but our spirits were high as we told stories of past VOC trips, shared knowledge from our diverse fields of study, and discussed the merits of barefoot running.
I’m new to the VOC, and I’m convinced that I’ve found a slice of magic. As an SFU student, I was hesitant to join the club because I was worried about being ostracized, but the welcoming attitude of every member I have met has erased all of my doubts. The camaraderie between members is unbelievable. Everyone is eager to share their expertise and help each each other out. The connection created by our common interests is amazing; it is a truly special thing to begin an event as strangers and finish it as friends.
At the end of the night, Gabe suggested turning the Harvest Hustle into a series, and offered to host the next run. Everyone is excited to see where he will take us. Hey Gabe: 10 points if you can create a route with more elevation than mine.
Our run can be viewed here: https://www.strava.com/activities/410425264
title credits to Gabe.