Trail runners representing Canada at gruelling world championships in Patagonia

Sep 23 2019, 12:57 pm

Representing our country on a world stage is what most Canadian athletes strive for. That honour was bestowed upon two local trail runners, Jeanelle Hazlett and Brendan Urlocker, who are now getting ready to travel to Patagonia for the World Mountain Running Championships in November.

“This is a dream I’ve kept close to my heart for a number of years,” Hazlett says. “To earn my spot on the team and to getting this opportunity to represent our country is surreal and so incredibly exciting.”

Urlocker adds, “I am really excited for the opportunity to compete internationally, and I’m grateful to be able to represent both Canada and the local trail running community.”

Both are excited to represent a community they are active in, not just as competitive athletes, but as leaders and ambassadors of the sport. They educate and inspire runners of all abilities to explore and enjoy the beauty of our backyard.

“I have had the opportunity to introduce and support so many people in their journey of trail running… I have been able to meet and empower so many amazing people and that’s a pretty irreplaceable achievement,” Hazlett says.

When they’re not working or coaching, the two friends are racing. Hazlett and Urlocker are no strangers to the podium. They both dominated at the gruelling Squamish 50 races in August, where Hazlett placed first woman at her inaugural 50 mile race (9:13:46) and Urlocker placed first overall in the 50K (5:14:53), among other achievements.

The pair now have their sights set on Argentina. The 41.5 kilometre course includes a total ascent of 2,184 metres (that’s two-and-a-half Grouse Grinds), steep technical descents, water crossings and unpredictable mountain weather which may include snow at the summit.

Lucky for them, living in the Lower Mainland adds an edge to their training.

Urlocker says, “The good news is we have a lot of similar trails in the Vancouver area.”

Hazlett adds, “I love getting into mountain terrain like the HSCT (Howe Sound Crest Trail) and Whistler Alpine. I also LOVE runnable trails like Lynn and Mountain Hwy.”

World-renowned competitors Jim Walmsley, Joe Gray, Hayden Hawks and Morgan Arritola are just a few who will be toeing the line at Patagonia on November 16th.

The modest Urlocker only started trail running three years ago, and soon he will be racing against some of the best. “It’s crazy to think I’m racing with the likes of them!” Hazlett, not fazed by the competition, says, “It’s exciting to know the competition is SO strong! Definitely raised the stakes and makes the time of training between now and then even more focused and intentional.”

To prepare, October will be a big training month for Urlocker and Hazlett. You’ll find them hitting the trails with other locals who have also made the Canadian team including Robyn Mildren, Tory Scholz, Kris Swanson, Marcus Ribi, junior athlete Samuel Perrin and more.

Hard work and discipline are not enough to get these elite athletes to Worlds, they need support as well. Each of them are fundraising to help pay for competition-related expenses. Urlocker has set up a GoFundMe page to help with travel and accommodations.

Hazlett has been hosting trail clinics and selling merchandise through Mountain Heart Collective inspired by her passion for running. She will also be hosting a Halloween “Rundraiser” with all donations going to North Shore Search and Rescue and the Canadian Mountain Running team.

It’s going to be a busy autumn for these two. All the best in Patagonia and you’ll surely do Canada proud. Their advice to aspiring trail runners:

“Enjoy every second of it, the highs and the lows. Keep at it, you are amazing! And you are choosing to experience some of the most exciting and beautiful terrain ever- so take a second to soak in all the beauty and have fun.” – Jeanelle

“Have fun, and be a good ambassador. Surround yourself with like minded people, and have your vision set on your goals.” – Brendan

Follow their journey to Worlds on Instagram: @jeanelle.haz | @burlocker