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New running group to start up

Ironman veteran Kristian Manietta to provide free instruction



Just run, baby.

That's the attitude Ironman veteran Kristian Manietta is espousing with his new running group, We Run Whistler.

Manietta, an Ironman age-group champion who has twice broken the nine-hour barrier, will launch the group on Wednesday, May 31 with an event at Forlise in Whistler Village.

"On that launch night, we're going to cover questions. We're going to run, we'll talk, we'll have fun," he said, adding that snacks and beer will follow. "Everyone likes beer, so it's a great way to finish off a run."

The route will likely take runners through the trails of Lost Lake, though Manietta hasn't 100 per cent locked in a map quite yet.

Fans of Lost Lake — or any other trail, for that matter — will likely traverse their preferred terrain at one point or another. Manietta said one of the main goals of the group is to explore a variety of options in and around the resort.

"We'll be out for an hour, 90 minutes and (the distance will be) depending on where we run — and the whole point of We Run Whistler is we can run anywhere. We've got the Valley Trail. We've got the trails around Lost Lake and we've got all the other trail networks around, so we want to utilize those," he said. "Some will be challenging, and I hope it is challenging."

Manietta, who founded Trispecific and has coached Ironman triathletes, is taking inspiration from the November Project, a free fitness project founded in Boston in 2011, which has subsequently landed in 40 communities on a weekly basis. Another mantra he's putting forth is that the group is open to those of all abilities.

"What matters is just showing up. If you're a wet-behind-the-ears sort of runner and just starting out or someone just training for your first 100-mile ultramarathon in the mountains, we can cover everything," he said. "It's fun. You're going to get a good workout. You'll get fitter and stronger. You'll get educated."

Though Manietta himself is an ultramarathoner, he's hoping it won't put off those who are just starting out in the sport. He came to Whistler as an extreme snowboarder, but later changed his focus.

"Everyone was a beginner once. At one stage, a 5K race might have seemed impossible, but you put one foot in front of the other, you show up and the next thing you know, you're running a marathon," he said. "There's no way I would have ever hoped of doing a 100-mile running race through the mountains, or doing an Ironman triathlon let alone 17 of them.

"Let's use it as a gateway for fitness in the community, for helping people break through their boundaries and learning lessons that they can become a better version of themselves."

Manietta said when he first arrived in Whistler, he connected with the Running High group. However, one organizer left and the other is moving away soon and there will be a gap to fill with their exit.

"(We Run Whistler) really came about because there's tons of different groups, but there's no real stickiness or cohesiveness, they all come and go," he said. "We're trying to have something that is community-based and is consistent. There will be people there week in, week out no matter what. Rain, shine, snow — whatever we get in Whistler.

"We're open to letting it grow organically. There will always be two of us running and it could be a hell of a lot more as it grows."

Manietta said many of the runs would be on trails, and hopes to inspire athletes to do events like the Valley to Peak and the Whistler Alpine Meadows 50.

"Most of the time, we will do stuff on trails — it's all so beautiful," he said. "It makes it a little bit more enjoyable (than) always being on the Valley Trail.

"Come the winter, there are some (changes) that we need (to make)... We'll have to utilize the Valley Trail a little bit more."

The inaugural event on May 31, like all runs, will start at 5:44 p.m.

"It's just to be quirky, different," he said with a laugh. "When you show up, show up, and that's really the key."