In 1975, I was 10 years old and in grade 5. My first real race was a cross-country race at our public school in Wakefield, Quebec. I loved running on the trails in the Gatineau hills. Fast forward six years to 1981: I was 16, and my first ‘real’ job was working at the Footlocker store in Victoria, B.C. I loved it; we had a great group of staff (whose names I can’t recall), and we were all into sports. Through the remainder of my high school and university days, various sports came and went: football, soccer, basketball and running.
Fast forward 20 years: my limited football, soccer and basketball days were now over. But running continued to varying degrees in various forms. Virtually all of it was on my own, and most of it was on trails near one of the several houses I lived in. Sure, there was some road stuff, and even a couple bouts of track running at the Masters’ level. But the trails just kept calling me back. There was something unidentified, certainly unspoken, that, nonetheless, drew me in. Part of it was the absolute solitude; part of it was the sensory seductiveness of the forests; part of it was the preference for softer running surfaces (vs. pavement).
A few more years went by, and Sue and I got our first dog together – Kula. In an effort to exercise her more, I started to run more. And the more we could run on trails, the happier we were. In the winter, we started mixing up the running with some skiing on the lake. Initially unbeknownst to us about the popularity of the sport in Europe, we had ‘discovered’ skijoring.
Today: Kula (and now Ziggy, too!), Sue and I run and hike on trails as much as we can. (I haven’t mentioned thus far that Sue was a nationally-ranked middle distance runner, an incredible cross country runner, a team Canada triathlete and former university varsity cross-country skier.) The four of us have explored many of the great forest tracts in Simcoe County. We love trying out new ones as well as returning to our favourites. Sue and I also own Kind Living Yoga Studio & Boutique and welcome people into the yoga barn we recreated from the iconic Upholstering Shoppe barn at the bottom of Jarvis Street across from Couchiching Park. Up & Out, as an idea, grew out of our desire to share our love of trail running, trail running with dogs and skiing with dogs. We also saw an opportunity to provide a boutique offering for people who want to buy high quality (and reasonably priced!) gear for trail running as well as dog-powered sports.
I am introspectively fascinated with my full-circle experiences in both running and work, and I consider myself very fortunate that I am able to explore these passions: outdoor activities (especially running and skiing), dogs and helping provide people (and dogs!) with opportunities to enhance their own outdoor lifestyles.
As Up and Out continues to grow, we will be adding demonstrations, clinics, running groups, yoga for trail runners (but not with dogs!) and new products to help you enjoy all there is that Mother Nature has to offer us and our furry friends.
We hope you will join us in going further!