Head down to the Bow River any day at noon — summer or winter – and you’ll see countless downtown office workers heading out for a quick lunchtime run. The Bow River Pathway system runs 45K from one edge of Calgary to the other, and is part of a 660K system of pathways that also stretches along the Elbow River and Glenmore Reservoir, through Fish Creek Provincial Park in the south, and through Nose Hill Park in the north. Many pathways are plowed in the winter, making it very easy to keep training all year round.
The most popular races in Calgary are the Police Half-Marathon in April (which sells out its 2,000 entries in a few hours each January), the Forzani’s Mother’s Day 5K and 10K Race (Calgary’s largest race with over 15,000 entrants) and the HSBC Calgary Marathon, which is moving to a new date (May 31) and inaugurating a new course in 2009. Melissa’s Road Race in Banff, with 10K and 22K events, is the highlight of the fall racing calendar.
In addition to the Running Room, which has seven locations in Calgary, there are two prominent independent running shops:
Strides Running Store, located on 34th Avenue SW in Marda Loop, carries a wide variety of shoes and clothing and offers a number of high-performance clinics. Strides owners include 11-time Mother’s Day Race winner Jeremy Deere and PanAm gold medallist and Olympian Graham Hood.
Gord’s Running Store, located on Centre Street North, sponsors a number of local races and carries a full selection of clothing and shoes.
The Sheraton Eau Claire is located next to the YMCA at the hub of the Bow River Pathway system, and is a favourite hotel for runners.
The Westin is located in the heart of downtown, a few blocks from the Bow River, and features a running concierge as well as running maps designed by Runners World.
The Calgary Roadrunners is the primary running club in Calgary. The club holds frequent group runs, races, and training sessions, and its website features a comprehensive list of races in Southern Alberta.
For a quick, nutritious snack and delicious coffee, visit Good Earth Cafe at any of their numerous locations including Eau Claire Market and Glenmore Landing.
For a pasta preload (or reload) visit Joey’s at Eau Claire, or drop into Il Giardino at on 17th Avenue SW at 4th Street in the heart of the Red Mile.
For a classic Calgary dining experience, Alberta beef grilled to perfection, visit Caesar’s Steak House on 4th Avenue SW, downtown.
Short but Spectacular (Crescent Heights) (5K)
Head west on the paved pathway from Eau Claire, cross the Bow River and Memorial Drive at the LRT bridge, head up the paved pathway and climb the hill on 10th Street. Follow Crescent Drive along the crest of the hill for a spectacular view of downtown Calgary. Come back down the hill at the curling club and cross Prince’s Island to return to Eau Claire.
Medium – Crowchild Trail (8K)
Head west on the paved pathway from Eau Claire, cross the Bow River on the pedestrian bridge under Crowchild Trail, and head back towards downtown on the north side of the river. Cross Prince’s Island to get back to Eau Claire. For a shorter run, cross the river and return at either the LRT Bridge (for a 4K run) or the 14th Street bridge (for a 6K run).
Long – Glenmore Reservoir (17K)
This is the classic Calgary run. Listen to Calgary runners ask each other “Did you run the Reservoir this weekend?” on Monday mornings.
Park at Glenmore Landing (14th Street SW at 90th Ave), pick up the paved pathway behind the plaza and head left. Follow the pathway past the sailing club, down the hill into the Weaselhead natural area, up the hill and through North Glenmore Park, over Glenmore Trail and Glenmore Dam, past Rockyview Hospital and Heritage Park and finally back to Glenmore Landing (and a post-run snack at Good Earth Cafe)
Mike Styczen is a Calgary runner, biker, father and lawyer, who estimates that in the course of his 10 years in Calgary he has run or biked every metre of pathway in the city.