There are few experiences that can come close to a spectacular trail run through the Bella Coola Valley, something Fraser Koroluk knows firsthand.
Having taken up the sport of running just over a year and half ago, Koroluk soon saw the potential for forming a community group with a focus on trail running to utilize our beautiful local trails.
“This is a sport that is accessible to everyone, you don’t have to be a runner to come out,” said Koroluk. “We are so lucky to have these trails and hopefully this will be a way to increases the amount of people using them.”
Enthusiastic about the sport, Koroluk has completed six running events in the past year: three marathons (42km) and three ‘ultramarathons’ (50km+). But it was the participation in the ultramarathons that really peaked his interest.
An ultramarathon is any event that involves running or walking longer than the traditional 42km. There are two types of ultramarathon events: those that cover a specified distance, and events that take place during specified time (with the winner covering the most distance in that time).
The most common distances are 50 kilometres, 100 kilometres, 50 miles and 100 miles, although many races have other distances. The 100 kilometres is recognized as an official world record event by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the world governing body of track and field.
The events are grueling tests of mental and physical endurance, and they are attracting people from all over the world. There are dozens of races happening across Canada alone, in almost every province, and covering every distance up to 100 miles. There are even multi-day races.
“The thing that separates these ultramarthons from traditional races is the atmosphere,” said Koroluk. “People are friendly and fun, the whole thing is more relaxed.”
Koroluk explains that in an ultramarathon the focus is simply on finishing the event, not achieving a particular time. “You really have to pace yourself and go slow,” he said. “The key is just to keep moving.”
Koroluk also sees opportunity. Already an established tourism operator in the Valley, he is hoping to combine his newfound passion for running with a new tourism venture.
“We are hoping to organize a running event in the next year or two in Bella Coola,” said Koroluk. “The Valley is a perfect place to host it and the market for these races is growing all the time.”
Koroluk said the idea for hosting a running race came to him after attending a number of events throughout North and Central America. He feels we have something special to offer. “We are the only place in the world that can offer a run through the Great Bear Rainforest,” he said. “These events are really taking off right now and we have the chance to be part of it.”
For now, however, Koroluk is focusing on making the sport of running accessible. The group is open to everyone regardless of age, skill level, or whether you have even run before.
“I am going to be posting the run times on the Facebook page ‘Rainforest Runners,’” Koroluk said. “It’s not a competitive group and the distances are totally up to the individuals. It’s just about getting people out and having fun on the trails.”
If you are interested in coming out, check out the page on Facebook or give Fraser a call at the Bella Coola Mountain Lodge at 250 982 2298.