Tara Berry is one of the Canadians currently running the Ultra Trail to Mont Blanc which is one of the most prestigious trail and ultra runs in the entire world. The runner took to the trails after joining a running club in Vancouver and falling in love with the terrain of the city’s North Shore. Earlier this week, she arrived in Chamonix, France to prepare herself for her second-ever 100 miler. This athlete is capable of taking on the mountains and arrived in Europe with a mission. What she didn’t expect was a marriage proposal at the top of the alps.

Canadian Running: What initially attracted you to UTMB?

Tara Berry: I haven’t been running in the alps or anywhere in Europe. When I’m picking races, a big part of that is exploring new places. Plus it’s UTMB! Is one of my bucket list races. I didn’t expect to do it so soon (this is my second 100 miler) but I had enough points, and I got in so I couldn’t pass on that opportunity.

CR: Do you remember the moment when it was confirmed that you were going to run it?

TB: The moment it was confirmed I was in a bit of shock and really excited, as I just realized I had enough points that same day. When I went to register, I found out I was in. It happened really fast. I talked to my friend Alicia Woodside and she realized she had enough points for CCC and so she registered shortly after and we planned to go together with our partners. I was excited and nervous.

 

Arrived in Chamonix!! Instantly excited! Plan was to stay in a refuge up on the mountain but missed the last gondola up πŸ™ˆ, ops my mistake. Pretty amazing place to be stuck πŸ‘. Found a last minute hotel and it worked out πŸ€—. #chamonix #utmb #roadtoutmb #salomonsquad πŸ“·@leddster.

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CR: How did you get into trail, mountain and ultra running? 

TB: I played soccer growing up and after university, I joined the Vancouver Falcons Athletics Club. I met a lot of good friends in that club and we got into trail running together. I started doing 50K races and planning long running adventures to places like Mongolia and the Grand Canyon.

CR: You’re regularly in the mountains. What do you love most about mountain running? 

TB: Trail running first captured me when I did my first 25K trail race on run on the north shore in Vancouver. I didn’t really have any idea of what I had signed up for but it was a blast and I enjoyed it so much more than running on roads. I started discovering all the amazing places on the north shore of Vancouver. I love the technical trails there. Before that, I had just done a few road half-marathons and hadn’t done a ton of hiking. I had no idea what I was missing out on. What I love most about mountain running is getting to explore new places that I could never get to by car. I feel fortunate that I have the ability to do so and I don’t take it for granted. Also, the friendships and community of trail runners in Vancouver is incredible. I would have never started running longer distances without the support of the women I have met through this sport.

CR: Apart from running, what do you get up to in your day-to-day life?

TB: I work full time for WorkSafeBC with individuals who have experienced a brain injury at work.
I am doing my masters in disability management, but I took a break from that this summer to have more time to travel and just enjoy my summer and not have to also do homework right after work. Other than running, I do a lot of hiking with friends and snowboarding in winter. I’ve always travelled a lot but now my travel destinations usually include some type of running!

CR: What are your impressions of Chamonix?

TB: The start and finish of the race are so surreal. I’ve never seen such a picturesque start and finish line. I took the gondola up the mountain and every way I looked, the scenery was amazing!

 

CR: Tell us about your support system. You must have a lot of friends and family cheering you on. 

TB: I feel very well supported from friends and family at home and my coach Ellie Greenwood. I have some of my friends here running CCC and my fiancΓ©, Ryan, who I’m newly engaged to, is here. (We got engaged on this trip actually.)

 

Went up Aiguelle Du Midi the other day and this happened. This guy😘😘 πŸ’. #engaged #chamonix #france πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’‘ @leddster.

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CR: You just got engaged! Congratulations!

TB: Yes we got engaged on Tuesday in Chamonix at Aiguelle de midi which is at about 3800m above Chamonix!

CR: How did you guys meet and how long have you been together?

TB: We met at work (not at my current position) and both worked with individuals with brain injuries. We haven’t worked together for a few years. We’ve been together for just over four years. I did not see this coming… in Chamonix before the race!

CR: So… how did he propose? 

TB: We do a lot of hiking together. He can’t hike right now because he’s healing from an Achillies injury. I’ve been tapering, so we planned to take the gondola up there. He proposed at the top!

CR: What’s your outlook on this race?

TB: I’m a bit more relaxed because of the proposal. I’m a bit nervous about the distance but my general outlook on it is I am here to have fun. We’ve been having a great time in France so far and will be going to Cinque Terra in Italy after.

Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc