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Get moving in March, Squamish

Capra Running Co. issues challenge to locals.
When Catherine Fleming did the inaugural 30x30 Challenge in the fall of 2016, she embraced the discipline required to run at least 30 minutes each day for a month.

"It was a challenge. I'd never run 30 days in a row," she said with a chuckle. "Especially being in November, where it's obviously wet and cold, it just seemed perfect to get me out there to do it and have that motivation to do it."

Now one of seven participants who has competed all five years, Fleming said the challenge is now a major part of her life, and, even as she's shifted from trail running to mountain biking, is something she looks forward to every year. Last year, it was especially welcome with events cancelled and less motivation to train.

"I think I needed it more this past November, just to get out there," she said. "It made me really appreciate where we live and being able to have these trails in our backyard. I think it was especially important to take part in the challenge and be grateful for the things we have."

The challenge, organized by local store Capra Running Co. has subsequently grown from a grassroots project by store co-owner Solana Green into an event that saw more than 2,000 people take part in 2020.

"We decided it would be a great way to battle the dark and dreary days of November when it's so, usually, dark and rainy and gross," Green told The Chief.

However, coming out of winter, Green, who owns the store with business partner Mike Murphy, felt it was worthwhile to bring back a similar program for March.

As we collectively hit the one-year marker of the COVID-19 pandemic, the desolation leans more toward being figurative, but it's just as much of a reason to get people active again.

Green is opening things up a bit more than normal with the upcoming March Movement Challenge, allowing any active outdoor pursuit for a minimum of 20 minutes a day.

"There's always been someone that's committed to doing 31 days of 31 different activities," Green said, noting the list includes everything from hula-hooping to juggling to walking backward.

The entry cost is $20, with $5 from each entry being donated to the Howe Sound Women's Centre. Green hopes to attract at least 1,000 participants. In past years, participation has been roughly 80% women.

"We have a huge female demographic and we want to support them," she said. "It was an easy choice."

Meanwhile, last year's 30x30 raised upwards of $11,000 for Squamish Search and Rescue and the Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association.

After starting with 60 participants in Year 1, growing steadily for four years, last year saw a boom from roughly 700 in 2019 to more than 2,300. The challenge had grown by word of mouth but was aided by a rule change to encourage more participation, adding walking as an eligible activity alongside running and run-walking.

"It's all about the community and it's all about making a safe place for people to feel included and welcome," Green said. "So many people were more out of shape than they normally would be.

"You saw our regular customer base bringing their parents in, bringing their grandparents in."

Green noted that participants' age range has varied from 11 to 89. Even with the drastic increase in participation, the completion numbers held steady with more than 82% hitting the target.

Green noted that the upcoming challenge will be an opportunity to test drive a brand-new tracking system. Hosting more than 2,000 competitors on Google Sheets, the previous system, proved to be untenable.

"We crashed Google Sheets," Green said with a laugh. "[The new system] is basically a Google Sheet but it's protected by your email. The biggest problem we had was people filling in other people's forms [by mistake]."

The 30x30 Challenge has seen participation worldwide, usually explained by a connection to a past or current Squamish resident or to events like the Squamish 50.

There have been some surprises, though, including an inexplicable contingent of roughly a dozen Finns this past year.

Join the challenge or find out more here.