Fourteen-year-old Finn Piney is dominating the weekly running challenges hosted by the Stag Leap Running Co. Photo Submitted

Stag Leap gets creative to keep community running

Weekly challenges keep runners motivated despite cancelled races

With COVID-19 regulations relaxing and summer weather around the corner, an increased amount of people have strapped into running shoes and taken to the streets for exercise. To help the local running community stay active and motivated, Fernie’s Stag Leap Running Co. created a number of exciting challenges.

Stag Leap is a Fernie based running club launched in 2016, dedicated to encouraging residents of the Elk Valley to stay fit through a number of community races, group runs, and events. Unfortunately, both of their races this year, the annual Elk Valley Ultra as well as the Lone Wolf, have been cancelled due to the pandemic. Rather than postponing the events to a later date, Abi Moore, co-operator of Stag Leap, decided to resume the races next year to avoid the overlapping of races in the fall. Even so, Moore has partnered with a number of local businesses to set up weekly challenges, encouraging people to continue running.

In their first challenge, they asked runners to use the running and cycling app, Strava, to spell out words and shapes with their running routes. Various runners participated in this creative training activity, using the streets of Fernie as their canvas.

“In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to be socially responsible by distancing myself from the trails which I prefer to run on, yet I wanted to pass on a relative message during this time, and spell it out with GPS tracking. The street navigation was very thought provoking. Honestly, I was so engaged in the formation of my letters and words, I forgot all about the road running,” said Dana McMahon, a participant in Stag Leap’s weekly challenges, who spelled out ‘wash your hands’ on his run.

Partnering with various local businesses, Stag Leap also took part in a Quarantine Backyard Ultra towards the start of the pandemic. Organized by Personal Peak out of Calgary, thousands of people virtually partook in the event requiring participants to complete 6.7 kilometre laps every hour, either outside or on a treadmill. For every lap completed, Stag Leap gave participants gift certificates from businesses that typically support their races.

“I’m a huge advocate for running being so good for your health, physically and mentally,” said Moore. “With all the uncertainty and lack of races, I think maybe people have lost their goals a little bit. You need a little bit of momentum and encouragement to do something, so it’s nice to have a different challenge every week to work hard and stay fit and healthy,” said Moore.

Throughout the last few weeks, Stag Leap also teamed up with Fernie Physiotherapy for a five kilometre run challenge, as well as with Giv’Er Shirt Works for a sweaty squat, sit up, and run circuit. This past week, they joined Snow Valley Lodging and the Bridge Bistro for an all ages Mother’s Day run challenge, where prizes were awarded to the fastest mother child duo, as well as the fastest mother fur baby team. Ultimately, with no races on the calendar, these challenges have given local runners a positive push to continue training despite cancellations.

“Don’t worry about distance, mileage or speed. Just get outside. As long as you get home feeling better than when you left, that’s a win really,” said Moore.

Though there are no social running events currently scheduled, Stag Leap hopes to get their club up and running as soon as possible, while continuing to maintain the virtual challenges for those unable to attend physical meet ups.

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Seven-year-old Layla Rella proves that running is open to all levels and age groups as she jogs along Cokato Road for a weekly running challenge hosted by Stag Leap Running Co. Full story on page A11. Photo Submitted

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