Olympic-hopeful Rachel Cliff kicks off our Where I Run series. The Vancouver-native lives to race and in pursuit of her goals she logs some serious milage.
She knows her hometown like the back of her hand, so who better to tell us all about all the hidden gems and best running routes that Vancouver has to offer?
Hey Rachel, first off, why do you run?
"I get asked this a lot and I realize it boils down to one simple reason: I love it. I love being outside, exploring different routes and pushing myself."
Where is your favorite place to run?
They have massive trees, soft surface trails, and you can run for over an hour without crossing your own path.
Despite Vancouver being one of the biggest cities in Canada, we’re fortunate to have a lot of green space.
What is it about Canada and Vancouver that’s great for running?
Canadians value nature, activity and being outside. We’re an outdoorsy nation and I feel our city designs reflect this. I’ve never been to a Canadian city where I haven’t been able to find a nice running route.
Are there any places or routes you'd recommend to run while in Vancouver?
If you’ve never done it, running around the Vancouver Sea Wall is a must.
Canada is very seasonal, do you change your routes based on the time of year?
Luckily Vancouver is temperate so I don’t have to modify much. But if it’s super hot or very rainy I’ll run in the forest for some added protection.
We don’t get a lot of snow in Vancouver, but when it comes I may move to the treadmill. But even the cities where it does snow seem to plow their routes, so you can be active all year round.
How would you describe the running culture in Vancouver?
Running is very popular and even the recreational runners are fit. It’s not unusual for me to find myself in a “jogger war” with someone.
From what I can tell, the most popular running times are mid-morning to sunset. We don’t seem to have a huge 5AM run crowd but the city has a long, rich, running history and Vancouver is really suited to runners.
Runner’s high? Yes or no?
Generally, yes. Unless I’m in the middle of a big week of training…
Have you ever ran anywhere else in Canada?
Yes – I lived in Guelph, Ontario for six years and my brother currently lives in Toronto so I’ve run lots in those cities and surroundings areas. I have also raced in Ottawa, Moncton, Montreal, Halifax, Edmonton, Calgary and one time drove from Guelph to Vancouver and stopped in a lot of little towns along the way.
I can honestly say that there was a great running route in every place I visited.
Have you ever tried trail running?
Not really, I’m not strong on up-hills and very cautious on downhills. So it’s something that scares me a little.
Canada has some amazing trail routes and a fantastic landscape to explore so when I’m done with my athletic career I'd love to try trail running. Plus. I really enjoy hiking.
Top tip for a post-run coffee or brunch spot?
Pre-pandemic we went to Café Zen in Kitsilano post run quite often. It’s great. Recently I’ve got into making brunch at home. We have a waffle iron, my grandma gave us an espresso maker for our wedding gift and I love making omelets.
Find out more about Rachel’s culinary talents in our Breakfast of Champions article below.