Preparing to maybe train for the Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run

So I did something a bit crazy for someone living in vertically-challenged Southern Ontario: I entered the lotto for the Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run, a 50k trail race traversing Vancouver’s North Shore mountains via the Baden Powell trail, and amassing 8k feet (2400m) of vertical climb (and an equal amount of descent) along the way. The course itself is both beautiful and highly technical, starting with a killer 1000m vertical climb up to Cypress peak. Needless to say, it’ll be tough to replicate the course conditions during training here on the Escarpment, but the challenge is exactly what makes this interesting.

KKNSTR has been around since 1989, and when I lived in Vancouver (roughly 2005-2014), I was blown away by the fact this was a thing people did. Given that selection is by lottery, many end up trying a few times before finally getting in. So although this year wouldn’t be ideal for me, I figured I’d start trying now and give it a shot every year until I get in.

The lotto is held On Feb 5th, and only 270 runners are selected from all registered entrants. So the odds are against me, but it’s worth starting to think about my training now, taking inventory of the tools I have at my disposal to get me to the finish line in one piece should my name be called.

Oh yeah, I also have another training constraint: All of my runs (or maybe 95% of them), need to start out my front-door. I have 3 young kids and don’t have the time to drive out somewhere to go run.

So what are those tools at my disposal? What do I have close by to leverage during training?

  • A treadmill. Treadmills suck. And yes, there seems to be a bit of a stigma attached to calling yourself a trail runner while spending time on a treadmill. But the fact is there’s no other way for me to tackle prolonged climbs. I have a basic model with 10 degrees of incline, and I’ll put it to work power-hiking/running 1000m climbs.
  • A set of 498 stairs up the Escarpment (roughly 90m vert). Reps of the escarpment steps will be a great way to build up strength in my quads as well as improve my overall fitness. Boring, but better than the treadmill.
  • The Bruce Trail. I love the Bruce Trail. The sections close to me are quite technical, with the usual rolling terrain of Southern Ontario trails. I’ll run on the Bruce for most of my long runs.
  • Spring Ultras. I’m lucky to have a few great spring Ultras close by, and will likely get a 50k done sometime in late April or May as part of my training. Build-up races are a great way to dial in nutrition, get your gear sorted out, and of course get in a solid LR. I’ll likely shoot for the Sulphur Springs Trail Run in late May, which is good for about 1000m of vert.

All of this, of course, hinges on my name being called Feb 5th. If it doesn’t I’ll likely shift my focus to UTHC and apply similar training (with less focus on straight vert and extended climbs).

For now, I’m kicking things off easy. I’m shooting for about 30km/week, with a couple days per week dedicated to either the Escarpment stairs, or to hill reps on the mill. I’ll build up to a few consecutive weeks of roughly 80km, focusing on at least a couple back-to-back LRs in order to train on glycogen depleted legs.

Anyway, to be continued! I’ll keep updating about my training here, and will of course keep my fingers crossed on Feb 5th.




Preparing to maybe train for the Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run

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