Running Trails in a Winter Pandemic!

As we enter our second wave of COVID-19, Edmonton Trail Runners continues to be committed to your health and well-being.  We’ve been following along closely with the province’s public health updates and orders to ensure that we are responsive and compliant.  We’ll talk more about what that means at the end. But first, let’s do a wellness check.

Fingers on Pulse, and Go…

How many of us are experiencing pandemic fatigue?  We’ve been changing the way we work, the way we socialize, even the way we exercise… every day… for 240 days!  Sweeping societal change takes years, and we’ve done it in mere months!  If you’ve been hearing a lot in the press or social media about what you’re doing wrong, it’s time to pause and give yourself a well-earned pat on the back for doing a lot of things right, changing how you interact in a really fast and really hard way.  You are part of an exceptional time and you have shown up in an exceptional way.  Don’t ever doubt that.

Do we need to do better?  Sadly, yes.  The number of COVID cases is growing exponentially.  Can we do better?  I think so, but it’s going to take more than just a “pull-up-your-bootstraps” approach.  We can’t give out of what we don’t have.  If we are empty, weary vessels, we will not have the strength or fortitude to keep going.  We must find a way to re-fill ourselves so that we have more to give. 

Last week, we asked the ETR community to tell us what you are needing right now. Here are the top three resounding issues that you shared with us:

  • You’re needing social enjoyment;
  • You’re needing recreational enjoyment; and
  • You’re needing to stay fit.

These three criteria ranked significantly higher than any other “need”, including – do you need to feel safe?  I don’t think this means that our community doesn’t care about safety. Rather, we at ETR are craving fundamental human needs like community, connection and personal well-being.  If these needs go unmet, our capacity to fight a global pandemic may greatly diminish as we lose the energy to keep trying.

How Will We Fill Each Other UP?

Edmonton Trail Runners is not going anywhere.  We believe that there is more harm than good in cancelling our weekly run activities.  The statistics corroborate this. According to today’s press conference with Dr. Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer, 47% of all newly infected individuals are those meeting in homes or close quarters with friends and family where their guards are down. Why is this happening in the midst of a pandemic storm? I suspect that they are craving the same thing we’ve identified: community, connection, and personal well-being. They simply have no other way to get those needs met. It’s not an excuse, but it’s possibly an explanation.

Photo credit: Steven Csorba

Since ETR is a public outdoor activity as defined by Alberta’s public health guidelines, we are permitted to gather where reasonable precautions are being implemented in order to do recreational activities in places like parks and trails.  We can’t exceed 100 participants at any given time, and we must each be healthy (not symptomatic, not positive for COVID, and not in close contact with someone who has tested positive).

What we will keep doing to support all of you is to create a safe space for you to enjoy nature and the trails and each other together.  Here are some of the things we already do and will keep doing:

  • We provide guidance at the start of every activity, the most important and preventative guidance being to stay six feet apart from anyone who is not in your cohort group.  Some of our athletes have formed cohort groups within ETR.  This is permitted, as long as the group is clearly defined.
  • We divide up large run activities into smaller pace groups.  This eases trail congestion, particularly on single-track. The fastest group heads out first and the slowest group – or those with slow, old dogs like mine – head out last.  This also supports anyone showing up at any pace.  There will always be a pace for you.
  • We regularly review how we show up.  Your feedback helps us see with fresh eyes what may not be obvious when we are immersed in the community.  Stay tuned for a couple changes to the Saturday run group, which will hopefully create neighbourly space for others outside our group. We take up a lot of room when we space out, and we want to safely share the outdoor space with others.
  • We default to kindness.  We may not all be in the same boat, but we’re all in the same storm.  Nobody is getting through this perfectly.  Come out and talk about what you’re going through, trail therapy is free.  Be a welcome mat to someone new, you don’t know what they’re going through.  And when in doubt, assume that we are all doing the best we can. 

Happy Trails,

ETR Founder Sheryl


If you are not feeling well, immediately self-isolate and get tested. According to new guidance, if you test positive for COVID, you are responsible for letting anyone know who was in close contact with you. Let’s all do our part, no judgment, it’s a pandemic after all. For general guidelines on COVID-19, go to Alberta Health Services’ website

This entry was posted in Fitness, Health, Run, Trailrun, Trails, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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