Adventures in Powell River: Slow and steady wins my race
Look at me! I’m a shuffler.
Not a runner, or a sprinter, or even a speed walker. I’m a shuffler. For the last few years, I’ve laced up my hikers on the last Sunday of April and hit the Sunshine Coast Trail (SCT) to do the Marathon Shuffle, well the Half Shuffle. That’s a difference of 12 versus 29 kilometres for the full Shuffle, so worth noting.
Hosted by PRPAWS (Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society), Club Fat Ass, BOMB (Bloody Old Men’s Brigade) Squad, and the Powell River Hikers, the Shuffle has been running for over two decades and every year it becomes more popular.
As a half-Shuffler, I joined about a hundred others at the start line up where the SCT intersects with Tomkinson Road.
We were instructed by PRPAWS president Eagle Walz and treasurer Scott Glaspey: don’t get lost, ‘cause that’s annoying, and make room on the trail for faster shufflers to avoid “trail rage.”
We also acknowledged the Tla’amin First Nation, whose land we’d be shuffling through.
And at 11:00 am sharp we were off!
The majority of the Shuffle’s route is through heavily wooded terrain. In the beginning, you’re bunched up with other shufflers but much of the time, you have the trail to yourself, and so really, it’s like you’re racing with yourself.
And the trail is deluxe. There’s really nothing like it, often with soft spongy trail beneath your feet and rainforest everywhere you look.
See for yourself:
And like Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” In the Shuffle’s case, this is especially true because while you’re concentrating on your next step to avoid roots and rock outcroppings, there are treasures if you only look for them.
But there’s a beast of the Marathon Shuffle. Feared by some, respected by others. That beast is Scout Mountain. You may think you’re doing well, and even pick up your pace a bit but if you don’t keep some in reserve Scout will kick your butt. The payoff is the view.
For me, the real insult of the Shuffle comes after Scout Mountain. After the spectacular views of Wildwood in one direction
and Powell Lake in another,
you come down a steep rocky trail and you think you’ve aced it. Then, then, there’s this winding, upward-sloping gravel road that goes on pretty much forever. On a hot day, it’ll eat your soul, on a more temperate day, it’ll just nibble at it a bit.
Right now, that sounds like hyperbole but at the time it feels true. You’re tired, your feet hurt, and you probably don’t smell great.
But then you’re done. Hallelujah!
For me, all that took just over three hours. Three hours of shuffling, shuffling, a refreshment break, then some climbing, more shuffling, a little running, another refreshment break, more climbing, and then a whole bunch of shuffling. Crossed the finish line, kissed by Bob who was volunteering, and then I shuffled home.
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