Mile2Marathon where road meets trail

Liam Walke, a Mile 2 Marathon coach, was nice enough to chat with us about M2M Trail. Runners in and around the Ottawa-Gatineau area are lucky to have access to great trails for all levels of skill in the Greenbelt, the Ottawa Valley and in Gatineau Park. M2M Trail aims to build a welcoming community for all trail runners no matter their experience level.

How did M2M Trail begin?

Though it’s probably been years since M2M athletes and coaches have dabbled (and succeeded) in trail and ultra running, the idea to offer specific workouts, events, and coaching for trail and ultra athletes started brewing probably in the winter of 2020. I (Liam) came on as the first trail ultra coach at the same time as Katheryn’s Ottawa Trail Crew (already well established) came under the umbrella of M2M. All this happened in the summer of 2020, with the brief lull due to COVID19.

We started by offering a trails skills clinic for free, and then rolled into a weekly structured workout offered at different locations throughout the Gatineau park. 

What is M2M Trail all about?

It is all about broadening the scope of what it means to run. At first we’d thought that we might get a bunch of road runners switch or start trail running more. While there’s been a bit of that, it’s more a different crowd. It’s about building a strong and supportive community for EVERYONE, regardless of their ability or background; regardless of whether they run short distances or long, whether super competitive or just out for the popsicles and the friends.

Our Wednesday workouts have grown, and they are loosely based around a race schedule of events that people might do. In reality, maybe 1 out of every 4 or 5 runners actually races, but that structure works really well to keep things fresh and fun, and keep people working hard.

How has M2M Trail changed since its start? Have there been changes due to the pandemic? 

In 2020, the workouts only lasted 6 weeks before all races were cancelled and we were no longer allowed to continue. When we started up in June again, we changed the format to keep the location the same. We also ran another skills clinic, which was even more popular than the last one – we had probably 40 or 50 people out. Workout attendance has been relatively steady with a little bit of growth. We usually get 15-25 runners, depending on the night.”

What type of runner comes out to M2M Trail? 

Some dedicated trail and ultra runners that compete, some very recreational newbies looking to meet friends and learn skills, and some “weekend warrior” types just looking to mix it up a bit. There’s the odd road runner as well.

Our thanks to Liam for taking the time to answer our questions. M2M Trail meets Wednesday and Sundays. You can find more information on their website.