One of the side benefits of most of the races I have done this year is seeing spectacular scenery and views. Often I find myself saying in the middle of races, “I bet my wife would love to see these views, and would enjoy running in these races, too!”. Like I reported in a previous race report, my wife is also a runner, though one who has had a long road to recovery after some nasty feet injuries that sidelined her for the better part of two years. Nevertheless, she is now at the point where she might entertain sharing with me in these beautifully scenic running events, and the Peak 2 Peak Adventure run was the perfect event for us to try out together (along with our son, Team Running Free athlete Jesse Diaz, who ran on his own).
Peak 2 Peak is an orienteering-based ‘mini’ adventure run put on by DontGetLost (the same folks who oversee the amazing Snowshoe Raid Jesse and I ran in January). Billed as a low-key practice event for its larger and immensely popular Raid The Hammer Adventure Run in November, Peak 2 Peak still easily stands on its own entity as a fun, scenic, well-organized challenging event. Set in the wilds of the Dundas Forest (near Hamilton/Ancaster), Peak 2 Peak arms runners with a map and compass to find checkpoints located throughout the forest. A key feature of Peak 2 Peak is that all of the checkpoints are located on hilltops (or at the bottom of deep valleys), meaning that runners will have to accrue significant elevation gain to find the checkpoints. However, due to the two hour limit, differences in checkpoint difficulties, and the ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ format of the event, Peak-2-Peak not only caters to hardened veterans of the trail running/adventure racing/orienteering scene, but also families, weekend warriors, and anyone up for a different kind of running adventure. Prizes were handed out to the top runners in each age category, yet everyone was welcomed on the course, which is so refreshing and beautiful to see: children, seniors, couples, groups of teenagers, and everyone else shared the course with the truly elite runners.
As far as events go, once again DontGetLost was stellar in its organization. They provided a free orienteering mini-clinic to provide the basics for beginners, snacks at the end of the run, and a host of interesting challenges to test the skills of the more experienced runners (such as blanking out a portion of the map to challenge the navigational skills of runners looking to bag the more difficult checkpoint). DontGetLost provided all of these, and more, with a very low entrance fee that seems like a steal to me.
My wife and I loved running together through the Dundas Forest. We saw a buck on one of the massive hills, in addition to gorgeous views of the hills and valleys this area has to offer. Using my wife’s steady pace of running as our guide, and utilizing mostly clean navigation (we might have overshot one particular checkpoint, but stumbled upon a more difficult one instead!), my wife placed 32cd out of 45 women (the same pace earned me 45th out of 56 men, meanwhile Jesse ranked in the upper third of the field and 10th out of 21 male junior runners). But, more importantly than pace (indeed we were not ‘competing’ with anyone but our own navigation and fitness skills!), we were able to share one of those scenic and unforgettable experiences together, just like I’d imagined we could while running other races! Peak 2 Peak is the perfect adventure for people looking to get into trail and/or adventure running: accessible, challenging yet doable, run, and so beautiful!