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A Runner’s Diary: Running Through Canadian Trails

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I was in Montebello, Canada at the end of August. Montebello is located in the Quebec province where the people mostly speak French. There are less than 1,000 people who live there year round, but it really is a magnificent place to come and explore the wilderness.

At the end of the summer, my family and I went there for a quick five-day summer vacation and stayed at the Fairmont Hotel.

On the third day there in the late afternoon, I decided to run the 5K trail but knew I wouldn’t be able to do the whole thing without walking a little. I don’t know why but after running the NYC Half Marathon, I was set back a bit. Now, I have to gear up again for the Disney Half in January.

After walking out of the hotel, which is the largest log cabin in Canada, the doorman told me to head straight to the jogging path, which was a dirt road that went through the woods.

I headed in that direction. He told me, “Don’t worry, you won’t get lost.”

Those are famous last words. Every time someone says that to me. I get lost. (I am the worst when it comes to directions. I can even get lost in my own town!)

At first, I was following the trail and thought, “I’m doing great.” He’s right, the trails are marked. But then as I got closer to the water, I had no idea what direction to go. I picked one and ran.

Along the trail, I kept noticing fitness exercises made out of lumber. Some of the activities looked ridiculous. I almost attempted one and then thought better of it. I’m alone here and haven’t passed one person. There is no way I’m going to do that and not get hurt.

As I ran, I breathed in the fresh air. It smelled like a combination between honeysuckle and greenery. It was so peaceful. I started to think about where I was and how calm I felt and just wanted to hold that image in my mind. I wanted to hold it there for days when life gets so stressful that sometimes you find no way out.

I started to take photos to try to remember this feeling. While thinking about this, I came across a fork in the road. I could’ve taken it one of three ways but chose to take the uphill way.

I was glad I did because I saw two Canadian people. They looked at me and said, “Bon Jour.” I smiled and kept on running. Well, at least I’m not alone.

It felt good. My body was feeling strong. My mind was clear and it didn’t matter to me how fast I was going or how much I actually ran or walked. What mattered was the calmness and the stillness that I felt in my soul.

It was about an hour or so into my run and at that very moment, I knew that everything would be okay. I looked up and saw the front door to our hotel.

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About Hilary Topper


    Very nice. But with all due respect to Canadian scenery (have you been to Banf?), we’ve got some pretty cool mountain trails in Montana our own selves.

  • hilary topper

    Agree! I’ve been to Banf but only skied there. I’ve never been to Montana but would love to one day!