“Bienvenue a Montreal“ was the greeting from the Canadian immigration officer as we arrived in Montreal for our annual MRC Urban Adventure Run. This year we selected Montreal for its tough and technical trails, long and important history, and reputation for good food.
Our base camp for our two-day adventure would be Old Montreal, one of the oldest urban settlements in North America, dating back to 1642. The architecture, cobbled streets, and prevalence of French make it feel like we had traveled across the Atlantic to France. During our first evening we explored the city by foot enjoying the energy of the people on the streets and the magic of the lights. We fueled ourselves at an Ethiopian restaurant where we fine-tuned plans for our two runs: Day 1 – a technical trail run, and Day 2 – a run through the city of Montreal
On the advice of Phil Villeneuve, Canadian Team Solomon runner we headed north two hours by car to Mt. Tremblant where we would run the 35km Ultimate XC course.
View Montreal - Mt Tremblant Run in a larger map
We mocked the course for being “ultimate - NOT” as we started out running on a paved bike path. We were amused by the liberal interpretation of “ultimate” as the trail then turned into easily runnable double-track. We ate our words when the route turned into technical single-track with ankle busting holes, roots that snuck out and tripped you, bogs that sucked the shoes of your feet, and downed trees that required crawling over, under and through! This was a tough run that definitely earned the inclusion of “ultimate” in its name! Afterwards we enjoyed dinner in the Village of Tremblant and shared stories of our “ultimate” day over barley-based energy drinks!
For our tour de Montreal we created a 26km run that started at the Olympic Stadium, worked its way through Northern Montreal to the top of Mt. Royal. From the top of Montreal we worked our way across McGill University, through downtown Montreal, across the St. Laurence River to St. Helens Island and back across the river into Old Town.
We marveled at the diversity of the architecture, the friendliness of the people, and the beauty of the French language. As we covered the kilometers – we felt more and more immersed in the magic of Montreal. During an obligatory stop at Canadian Tire (Jay’s favorite store) we reached that zenith of feeling that we were a part of the fabric of the city – we ogled at the hockey skates, debated what tire tread design performs best in the snow, marveled at the selection of screws and nuts, and even attempted to ask in French where the bathrooms were located. Whoops – we knew we had pushed too far in our effort to become one with the people of Montreal when the response in perfect English was, “right after the tire display. You’ll need a key.”
Running provides a great means to see a city and mingle with its people. Our runs did not disappoint. As we celebrated two great days in Quebec with a fine Indian meal on our final night, we began making plans for MRC Urban Adventure run 2012!!
We hope you enjoy some pictures up in the sidebar.