Meditation and activism: Lisa Shatzky on running her first ultra-trail run

Local poet and runner Lisa Shatzky is doing the ultramarathon Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run June 13. She is dedicating the run to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. She was kind enough to answer some questions for the Undercurrent. 

How long have you been running?

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I have been running since I was 16 years old, and my first marathon (42 kms) was at 18 in Montreal. Since then I have run 28 marathons in Canada, the U.S. and a few in Europe. I run six days out of seven, usually first thing in the morning, an hour a day. Running has become a moving meditation for me, a way of entering a space of prayer, of gratitude, and a way of connecting with something greater. In some way it is a celebration of life for me. I believe the poems I write are first born when I am running. These last few years I only run in the forests and trails.

What is the Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run?

It is a 50 km ultramarathon trail run that takes place in B.C., on the second Saturday of July each year. This year it is happening on July 13.  The route comprises of about 8000 ft of vertical climb and descent, and generally follows the Baden Powell trail through the North Shore Mountains, starting in Horseshoe Bay and ending in Deep Cove.

What makes this run different from any run you’ve done before?

It is entirely in the forest and very steep. Only a small part of the Knee Knacker course is flat. It’s nearly constant ups and downs, with jutting roots, rocks, and boulders. It can become a bit treacherous in the damp of the forest, especially as one gets tired.  Less than 1.5 miles of this race is on tarmac, with the vast majority technical singletrack. I learned recently that Running Wild Magazine has recognized this race as one of the 25 toughest races in North America. Needless to say, I do feel a bit nervous about the day. I absolutely love forest and mountain running but this will be my first time doing an ultramarathon completely in this setting. I hope to go easy and slow and keep the energy of meditation and gratitude throughout the run. It’s all about having a little fun and the privilege of running in beautiful British Columbia. 

Why are you dedicating the run to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society?

Every marathon I have run becomes a dedication to an environmental or social cause that is important to me. This year’s ultramarathon is being dedicated spiritually and financially to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Like so many people everywhere, I am deeply concerned about our oceans and marine wildlife and in this time of climate change. Now more than ever we need to do everything we can to care for our oceans. Bowen Island is blessed to have whales returning to our waters and we all get so excited when we see them from our shores! But we must not become complacent. There is so much work to be done to keep Howe Sound healthy. Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is an international non-profit marine wildlife conservation organization. Their mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. They have offices all around the world as well as in Vancouver and are very active and involved in the marine health of our region. 

How can Bowen Islanders support you?

Please consider a donation to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society though my fundraising page on Facebook. Just go to my page and click on the donation button or follow the link. Even a small donation like 10 or 20 dollars makes all the difference. Plus, you will be supporting my 50 km run on July 13. I will be using the run as a long meditation and prayer for our oceans and our planet. How lovely it will be to know that I have your support and can bring you with me on this run. If you are not on Facebook, please feel free to contact me (lisa.shatzky@gmail.com) if you wish to make a donation and we will figure out another way. For the oceans! Join me. 

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