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The accidental Canadian mountain running champ

2019 Canadian Long Distance Mountain Running Champion Emilie Mann shares surprising wisdom about her experience

Last weekend Emilie Mann won the 2019 Canadian Long Distance Mountain Running Championship–arguably on a whim. The 26-year-old Calgary/Fernie athlete not only approaches her training and racing with smiles and ample snacks, she didn’t even realize she was running a national team qualifier at the race. Mann had a rough start on race day, but finished with a win. Mann’s positive attitude, hilarious training strategies, and humility likely contribute to her success. Learn how she became the 2019 Canadian Long Distance Mountain Running Champion–almost accidentally.

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Female winner Emilie Mann all smiles. Photo: Adrian Lambert

Race day

With 20 minutes to spare, Mann was nowhere near the starting line. “I was freaking out. I didn’t know what number to call and literally sent an email 15 minutes before the race saying ‘Help, I’m lost, please call this number.’  Luckily a friend dropped a pin for me and I made it to the start with five minutes to spare. Just enough time to slap on a race bib and put on my shoes! I definitely started out a little fast with the extra adrenalin.”

Mann was using the Kal Park Dirty Feet 50K race as a tuneup for her main focus this year: Sinister 7 100-mile race. She loves how fun and organized the Dirty Feet Trail Series is, and was keen to “shake off the winter rust. I’m a wee bit embarrassed to say I did not know that the Kal Park race was a qualifier for the Mountain Running Team! While I was running, I heard someone mention something about booking my flight for Argentina, and I just laughed and was like, ‘I think this person has me confused with someone else.'”

Emilie smiling hard after a rough start. Photo: Adrian Lambert

Hilarious training plans

Mann has always loved running, but recently become more competitive. In university she began training and racing road half and full marathons. But every time she returns to Fernie she is reminded of her love for the trails. “Over the past few years my love for ultras has really grown. You just can’t beat running in the mountains and you meet the coolest people through it! Ultras will forever be my jam (as long as my body continues to say yes).”

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The only structure to her training these days is running with the cross country team for the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) as she completes her Respiratory Therapy Program in Calgary. Otherwise, “I always find my training plan to be a little hilarious. I just go by how my body feels, what the weather is like, and I always appreciate a good taper.”

For injury prevention, Mann also teaches hot yoga in Calgary when she isn’t frolicking in the forest with her pup Shrimp.

Photo: Strava

Good friends and great snacks

Mann believes in keeping her friends close, and yummy snacks closer. She’s been hitting the trails in and around Calgary with her good friend and ultrarunner Arden Young, who keeps her accountable as she increases her mileage. “Great snacks are key too,” says Mann.

Top three women (from left: Roney, Mann, and Hazlett) Photo: Brendan Urlocker

School versus Patagonia

The World Mountain Running Championship will be in Argentina November 16, 2019. Mann will spend the next week deciding whether she is accepting her spot on the Canadian National Mountain Running Team. Although it’s her first time potentially running for Canada, “School is the priority right now. I’m starting my clinical year of Respiratory Therapy in June. If I can swing it financially and am allotted the time away from the program, I would be so thrilled to go. It sounds like an opportunity that is impossible to say no to.”

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