I’m approaching the summit and my lungs are reminding me of two things: the air is thinner up here and, you haven’t ran lately have you?
As I’m battling my inner doubts among the ranges of the Purcell mountains, I look ahead and see the group of runners ahead have crested the highest peak of our day. There’s hugging, there’s high fives, there are tears and selfies. I hear cheering and laughter. I’m in a good place. I catch up, leaving those doubts behind. It’s all downhill from here.
This energy and amazing people I’m running towards is all created
by Retreat Golden (in Golden, BC). They bring adventurous relaxation seekers to luxury destinations for trail running, cross country
ski and yoga retreats. It’s next level on all aspects, and not just your
everyday retreat. So what makes these experiences so incredible? Here’s
the 5 staples that make it happen.
Making to the top of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
As with all Retreat Golden experiences, you can choose your level of activity based on your abilities or needs that day. In our case, we had 3 levels of running we could choose from, each varying in distance and speed and accompanied by coaches who are local runners and trail enthusiasts. For a 'just off the couch' participant like myself, I kept it mellow on day 1 with coach Haley. Our group ran the muddy paths of Golden’s epic CBT trail network and even in a downpour of rain, the stoke was high as we cruised through about 10-km of flowy forests.
Running coach and the woman behind Retreat Golden is Magi Scallion. Her passion for connecting people to the mountains is a huge component to making these retreats so successful. Each participant is able to spend time with Magi to break down running technique and set some goals like how to approach getting past an injury, or how to conquer an upcoming race.
The encouragement of the whole coaching team made
our second day an epic experience. Running from the top of Kicking Horse
Mountain Resort to the valley bottom, there were hurdles we
all had to face individually and as a group. Fears were faced, limits
were pushed but the payoff was an incredible day and epic views. It was a perfect showcase and intro to what
trail running in the Kootenays can be.
Retreat Golden runners striding down the Terminator ridge of Kicking Horse Mountain
I’ll admit that I would (and have) scarfed down anything remotely edible after running like we did. But Retreat Golden has the found the perfect balance of nutritious ingredients, delicious flavours and presentations that has everyone in awe when we sit down to eat. Chef Julie Marshall provided breakfasts, packed lunches and dinners to die for. Sitting down for dinner and a glass of BC wine was a special moment of each day. When we all gathered to share stories and our triumphs of the day, the group becomes closer and felt like a family.
Warming up and winding down our bodies and minds was an essential component of the retreat. Led by yoga instructor Kristen Stuart, our intentions were set twice a day with yoga first thing in the morning, and at the end of the day’s activities just before dinner. Each day, we flowed our tired muscles back to life under the beautiful timber framed home provided by Lush Accommodations. I was thankful to have seen Kristen participating in the running herself, and making a custom class knowing which muscles needed love. For those looking for next level relaxation, a full team of massage therapists were on site ready to knead and release tensions of the day. In short, you were a puddle of warmth and peace by bedtime.
Kristen Stuart adjusts for extra release
One thing that makes Retreat Golden so special is the luxurious mountain homes where all activities take place. It’s all within a 2-minute walk from each other as yoga took place in one house, food was served in another, and there was plenty of space for all participants to sleep comfortably whether there solo, as a couple or in a group. Treating yourself starts right when you arrive and see the beautiful accommodations.
An example of the luxury Retreat Golden accommodations
There’s no doubt that the special sauce behind Retreat Golden is the people. Not just the people that facilitate the retreat, but the participants and really everyone involved. All walks of life and abilities come together for a weekend of mountain magic. There is encouragement, so much laughter, sharing, connecting and it’s safe to say you are not only getting a retreat, you are experiencing change as a person with people who can relate and celebrate with you.
The last day of the retreat, we all shared our favourite part of the weekend we just had. As we each opened up about what we expected and what we were going home with, it was clear that there were many breakthroughs not just about running, but personal breakthroughs too. I reflected on my inner doubts I had running that weekend, and how within the group I found the support to just put one foot in front of the other and keep going. My eyes welled up as I thought about how lucky I was to have experienced this weekend, these people, their smiles and this place.
Turns out my attitude was shared among another runner who took
part, Jamie. It was her first time to Golden and after spending the
weekend with the group she had this to say about the weekend: “The energy that
Magi, Kristen and the rest of their lovely team brought to this retreat truly
filled me up and reminded me why I run: to enjoy nature, challenge my own
limits and to surround myself with inspiring people. I left the weekend feeling energized and
refreshed...even despite having a mountain or two kick my butt!”
Leading the charge - Kristen Stuart (left) and Magi Scallion (right) grinning to start the day
The next Retreat Golden experience will be this winter - the Cross Country Ski and Yoga Retreat will take place on January 24-27, 2019 in Golden, BC.
Words and photos by Elora Braden.
Elora Braden is a videographer and photographer in Golden, BC. Raised between Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, and Nelson, BC, she grew up listening to the stories of the north and the Kootenays. Her love of adventure and passion for storytelling has been applied to a career as an actor, journalist, radio producer, photographer and videographer. She’s now thrilled to call Golden home and is likely at this moment attempting a new mountain sport, camera in hand.