Last year's Banff to Jasper team at the finish!

It’s pretty much a given that as summer excitement builds so do peoples’ exhilaration for all things outdoors. This is no more apparent than here in our active and supportive community, where I’m regularly amazed by people’s energy, efforts and endurance. Whatever sport, activity, event or challenge residents of Fernie choose to channel their energy into, a couple of things are certain: no one is going down without a fight and it’s never too late to start.

So to match the change in season, we’re shifting the focus on the heroic nature of our Fernie residents. To kick things off, below are but a small selection of Fernie’s finest running adventurers embarking on new challenges this month.

June 2nd: The Banff to Jasper Relay
Road Running // Team Relay
A well-known and much loved team running adventure, “The Real Housewives of Fernie” are getting ready to relay their way from Banff to Jasper through the majestic Canadian Rocky Mountains. Ange Qualizza explained the truth behind their team.

What three words would best describe your team of ladies?

Spontaneous, fun and lovely.

What made you decide to do B to J?
The lovely Emma Dressler wanted to achieve three things – organize 17 fabulous women for a weekend away, run in a spectacular environment and challenge herself to run solo. I wanted to see what this type of relay event would feel like and loved seeing the pictures from the team last year!

Who’s doing leg 8, the U bend?
Shaped like and as unpleasant as running up a toilet’s u-bend – Mrs. Crossfit herself, Jana Wenzlawe

Good luck housewives!

June 23rd: Trail Races of the East Kootenay Series
Trail Running // Series
It’s no secret that Krista and I have an avid interest in this as joint Race Directors of Tears & Gears, one of the five races that have joined to form this series, and nothing pleases us more than Fernie residents stepping up to take on the 1st Annual TREKSeries challenge. Heather Mong and Helen Fuller shared their roads to running, as the first race kicks off the series late June.

How have your running aims and abilities changed over the past few years?
(Heather) I began a walk to run program in Feb 2011 after my husband Jesse bought me a pair of running shoes. From there it was a natural progression. After completing Tears & Gears followed by the Fernie Half in 2011, I knew running was what I wanted to weave into my lifestyle.
(Helen): A dozen years ago, my running fitness and overall ability far surpasses what it is today. Having a balanced life is very important to me, so while my times are worse, my lifestyle is way better and I am only interested in being the best I can be while maintaining a balanced lifestyle.

Why TREKS and what do you hope to achieve?
(Heather) When TREKS was announced, it was automatically a ‘yes’ for me – beautiful locations, challenging distances and terrain, as well as the opportunity to meet new people and learn more about the sport.
(Helen) So, I turned 40 at the end of April and wanted to do something significant. Having done Heiko's Hellish Half and Tears and Gears last year, it seemed like only a slight extension to add the three out-of-town races, without them being super-expensive or epic journeys. I have no expectations other than to do the best I can and enjoy the scenery and environment.

How has Fernie shaped your love for running?

(Heather) Fernie has such a great trail network and it is right in our own backyard. Trail running has become one of the fastest growing sports and being here you can understand why.
(Helen) When I signed up for the Hellish Half I started trail running and I loved it! Even though the up-hills and down-hills, roots and rocks are far more challenging, I find time passes very quickly and the fauna and scenery are so beautiful that I don't tire of it.

June 23rd: Tough Mudder, Whistler
Extreme Obstacle Course // Full-body Challenge
Last but not least is a race that sits in a category of its own, that many people wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. Emily Agate describes the reason behind the madness as she tackles Tough Mudder Vancouver later this month, alongside fellow tough nuts, Cait Wilson and Leah Spergel.

How best would you describe Tough Mudder?

Tough Mudder is a 12-mile obstacle course designed by the British Special Forces, which truly challenges your mind, body and soul! It’s not a race but a challenge.

Many people might think you’re mad! What made you want to try Tough Mudder?
Cait heard about it first and wanted to take on the challenge and I was excited to join her. Some people may think I’m crazy, but who didn’t enjoy obstacle courses as a child? I look at Tough Mudder as an opportunity to get in touch with your inner child and meet new people with no judgment, and work together with strangers to complete a physical and mental challenge many people see as impossible.

How have you been preparing your body and your mind for this?
We’ve been training with Sarah Ingram once a week along with spin, running, circuit training and TRX. There is no better place to train than the trails of Fernie, plus I am in the best shape I have ever been in and feel amazing.

It’s pretty clear whatever the race, the reason, the mentality or goal, Fernie as a place and a lifestyle is contagious. With an action-packed summer to come, the countdown is indeed on for many a first-timer or an old-timer. If you know of one or are one, please email your racer to as we’d love to hear your story of getting to the starting line.