My whole life I’ve been uninspired by running. Despite playing numerous sports growing up and throughout university, I’ve had breathing problems that have stoked my distaste for it. A few years back, I surprised myself and convinced a new friend (who seemed to hate running as much as I did) that we should be running buddies. Turns out it’s kind-of fun to run with someone who dislikes it as much as you do!
It wasn’t easy. But it got better. We held each other accountable by showing up, and buoyed each other’s motivation with encouragement through the rough spots. It was also really fun high-fiving fellow runners (re: strangers) in the park to keep the smiles coming.
We reached our 5km goals and I began to think about tackling 10km.
This is where I must state that I am a fair weather runner through and through, and once any humidity or cold hit, the running stopped. Oh, and then covid barrelled over any buddy-related plans. I turned to other forms of fitness for health and enjoyment. I missed my running buddy, who ended up moving away and finding a great rhythm on her own, but I couldn’t be arsed to throw myself into it again. There were a few inspired moments where I laced up my shoes, pumped myself up, and slogged through a few kms, but running was sparse in 2021.
So what does running have to do with travel? Glad you asked! I’ve had my eye on the City of Kitchener’s Make Tracks 5km Challenge for some time and I think now’s the time to strike the pavement once more. There are no running requirements for the City’s challenge, but I could use a little fire under my butt (hence telling you). Actually, I’m thinking it’s an even more fantastic idea to coerce unsuspecting friends and family to join me in this too! But wait – travel? Read on!
What is the Make Tracks 5KM Challenge?
The premise for the Make Tracks 5KM Challenge is to visit each of Kitchener’s 14 community centres (plus a bonus 15th in the works) and get out for some fresh air and exercise. It’s a neat way to branch out from your own neighbourhood and explore other areas of town too. And if you guys have been here or with me on Instagram for the past 2 years, you’ll know that I love a list and checking things off as much as I love exploring. In fact, 2 such “list projects” (Ontario’s 160 Most Unusual Sites and Waterloo Region’s Food Trucks) were the highlights of 2020 and 2021’s adventures.
Back to the Make Tracks 5km Challenge.
The City of Kitchener has provided Story Maps (example shown below) for each community centre to add an extra layer of fun. There’s a mixture of directional information (turn right, turn left), historical photos and accompanying text, park and trail information, and outdoor art write-ups. For someone who has had to play mind games on themselves to run in the past, I’d say the City is doing a pretty good job of enticing me out the door!
Why You Should Join the Challenge Too!
The Make Tracks 5KM Challenge is perfect for any of us seeking a bit more movement, fresh air, or local adventure in our lives. It’s also a great way to become more familiar with our city. Ask yourself this – how many of these neighbourhoods have you walked in, outside of your own? As of September 10th I can only say a few, but by November I’m going to be able to say all of them! My challenge to you is this: grab a friend, parent, sibling, child, or co-worker and lace up your shoelaces. Bring your camera to document the cool art and historical tidbits, or ditch your phone for the full outdoor experience. Make tracks however you want to – running, walking, rolling – but make tracks either way! PS If you want a sweet checklist to track your progress, join my mailing list and I’ll send ‘er right over.
Catch ya out there, fellow adventurers!