Trail Blazer - The best of running in Pacific Spirit Park

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Wesbrook locals know how to live in nature. “It was a choice, right?” says Julie, a young mom who moved to the West Side neighbourhood this year. “We chose a home where we could be around all of this,” referring to the area's abundance of sports centres, secluded beaches, and even its own sandy volleyball courts. But it's the 763-hectare Pacific Spirit Park that's the crowning jewel for nature-loving residents like Julie. 

Vicki Mann manages the community's Running Room -- a shop local runners turn to that's turned into a fulcrum for all sorts of outdoor activities. The retail outlet is just steps from the park and its 33 trails, many of which have become far more groomed in recent years. To guide you through all of them, Running Room and the Wesbrook Welcome Centre offer free trail maps.

Locals and visitors often stop by to peruse Running Room’s large swimwear selection (including flippers and hand paddles), cool gym gear, or just to grab some Power Bars and electrolyte drinks. As an added bonus, anyone can drop their bags behind the Running Room counter and run on their own or tag along for two free runs each week (an all-levels run on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and a more advanced run on Sundays at 8:30 a.m.).

And with all these trails to choose from, how to narrow it all down? Start with Mann’s favourite trail: Sword Fern is one of the oldest—and most idiosyncratic—in the park. “It’s hardly touched, has boardwalks to run over, and is just covered in unusual plant life.”