Nose Hill parkrun, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

My ninth and final parkrun of this trip in Canada. I scooted ahead of the coldest weather, by pure luck. I left Edmonton in the snow, and with -9 predicted for Sunday. Calgary was not warm, but had a high of 10, by way of contrast.

I stayed with a fellow parkrun tourist, so had a lift to the run, and no transport or logistics to think about. Even better, it is only 20 minutes or so from downtown Calgary, so we didn’t have an early start. Luxury! Anyone thinking of heading here in October or November; Calgary weather is capricious, you might get snow, you might get sun and relative warmth. I settled for a temperature just above freezing and no snow.

Nose Hill parkrun route
Nose Hill parkrun route.

The chequered circle marks the finish and the meeting point, near the car park. The briefing is there, then everyone walks down the track to the start point, the green circle. From there the route is anti-clockwise, heading left at what will be the finish, then onto the lower loop, completing that twice, before heading up past the start to the finish.

Walking to the start
Walking to the start.
Runners waving at the start
Runners waving at the start.

This is a well-established run, with the 3rd Nov 2018 seeing the 110th running. The event team are slick, the course is well signed and everything works well. Everything except perhaps your lungs. Calgary is high above sea level, and the park higher still, at around 1000m, if I’ve remembered it right. Not as high as Aspen and Boulder, and I didn’t experience the same feeling of constriction across my chest, but still enough to (I hope) explain being a little slower here, and every kilometre being a little slower than the one before.

Heading down the hill
Heading down the hill.

That said, the topography also explains us slowing down (it was common among those I spoke to), as the start is downhill, the finish uphill, and the course itself undulates, with changing conditions underfoot making for a varied run. I found the ‘bottom’ stretch of the loop the toughest; ruts there are clear, but not flat underfoot, and despite running that stretch twice and choosing a different line each time, I never felt I had the best of it. It is also softer underfoot than the tarmac, which slowed me down a little.

The front pack
The front pack.

Not the easiest course, then, but one with plenty of space for parkrunners and other park users to share. The park itself is massive, as if Calgary had to provide a percentage of space as parkland and chose to do it all in one place. If you want a long warm up or cool down, this is a great place for it. It is pretty exposed, mind, so on a windy day you might fancy dropping out of the wind for respite.

My mate Rikki
My mate Rikki.
Finishing. Note I haven’t reached for my watch yet – got to allow for the delay in pressing at the start.

Another lovely parkrun, and one where most of the runners seemed to end up in the cafe afterwards (easier when you have smaller fields than some of the larger events, of course), which added to the sense of conviviality. I’ll be sorry to miss out on a tenth Canadian parkrun next weekend, but who knows what the weather will be like by then? Canada will happily show you a huge temperature range, from -40 to +40, so pick the time of year you visit according to your preference, if you can.

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