Tag Archives: Climbing

Beginning the ascent

Mystic BeachSeveral times in the past three weeks my mouse has hovered over the “submit” button for another fall marathon.

Each time, a little voice in my head says: “Wait until after your Half Marathon in May. Don’t you want to start climbing again? Remember – you don’t want to climb and train for a marathon at the same timeā€¦”

Climbing, hiking, trail running – getting out of the city and off the beaten path. It’s what I long to do, but it means a different level of commitment than training for a road race.

It’s a lifestyle change, is what it is.

Road races are – well – urban, and therefore populated. One of the things I really like about the Vancouver Marathon/Half Marathon is the sheer number of participants and spectators. There is always someone cheering you on, always someone to pass going up to Prospect Point (even for a slow runner like me), always someone holding a sign that says “Run like a Kenyan!” There are entertainment stations with music and dance, and usually the Hash House Harriers with a beer table somewhere along the way.

Climbing/hiking/trail running is more isolated. Wild. A little bit risky. A little – on the edge. It brings you into closer contact with your climbing partner(s). It’s more intimate. There’s no crowd cheering you to the finish line, announcing your name. At best there’s a notation in a guidebook, or a scribble in a summit register, and some scrapes and bruises for bragging rights.

This hit home to me as I scrambled around gearing up this morning for a little 5k hike from China Beach to Mystic Beach and back this afternoon. I located my little Adventure first aid kit, an extra layer, emergency rain gear, fuel, water, map (not that I needed one).

As I rummaged through my gear stowed in my locker downstairs, I heard my physiotherapist’s voice in my head saying: “Your toe joint is healing well, you should be able to start climbing again this spring.”

I want that thrill of going into the back country again. I want to be at a campsite, climbing gear spread out, consulting the guidebook, deciding with my partner what to take (one rope or two? Full rack or save weight and leave a few pieces?). I want to share a beer at the end of the day with friends who have literally held my life in their hands at the end the rope.

It’s time again to begin the ascent.

Photo: Mystic Beach, April 5, 2010, taken by Tori Klassen with iPhone using the Best Camera app.


Sport sponsorship for the rest of us?

Here’s an idea – please tell me if it’s been done before: why don’t more sports companies sponsor individual run-of-the-mill non-elite average athletes?

I don’t mean picking someone with talent and paying them to do their sport full-time, with a phalanx of coaches, physiotherapists and sport psychologists.

I mean picking somebody who is passionate and committed – but otherwise ordinary – and providing them with more resources to achieve their goals in return for some participation in a marketing campaign.

For instance: a completely average weekend warrior, consistent 10a or 10b climber with a job and a mortgage and maybe a coupla kids – gets a rope and some pieces of pro and some shoes and a new harness and the marketing campaign (including broadcast, print, social and earned media) follows them on their way to their objective for the year – whether it’s sending a 10c lead in Joshua Tree or a multi-day technical scramble in the Rockies.

Another example: a mid- or back-of-the-pack runner gets shoes, gear, entry fees, clinics paid for the duration of the contract in return for their story and for the occasional shill for the manufacturer.

This would be different from your run-of-the-mill “send us your story and we’ll draw from a hat” contest – it would be a complete sponsorship with pretty much all that entails – contracts and all. Not that I really know all that sponsorship of this type entails, I’m just blue-skying here.

The selling hook is not that these athletes will ever be able to set a world record at the Kona Ironman, or bag a first ascent of and epic climb – or even that they would qualify for Boston Marathon. The selling proposition is the sport equivalent of the Joe-the-Plumber phenomenon without the politics.

The selling hook is – these people are you and I. They have family and jobs and set modest (to some) stretch goals. They get blisters and they give up parties on nights before long runs and they sometimes leave their families to train, then are too tired to haul out the BBQ when they get home. They know they’ll never be Lynn Hill or Lori Bowden (and I’m not for a moment suggesting sports companies should not sponsor these athletes!) – but they are inspiring nevertheless.

The little guys can sell sports gear too you know.


Photo by zingersb

And just in case anyone at Mammut, FiveTen, Sugoi, New Balance, Patagonia, Mountain Hard Wear, Kelty, or Lululemon is really interested in this idea, I’m – er – available – ahem! Just email me here.