Saturday, November 30, 2013


Have you ever needed to  visit a place for which you could not drum up great enthusiasm before the trip?  For us, the Canadian Interior qualified.  For all the great places most people want to visit in Canada  - beautiful mountains, coastlines, metropolitan and cosmopolitan cities, gardens, fjords and historical sites - the "Flatlands" of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are typically not among them.  However, as is SO often the case, Manitoba turned out to be a great destination visit - not to mention an excellent place to run a half-marathon on the 6th of May, 2012.
Our selected race in Manitoba was the Winnipeg Police Services Half-Marathon, run in the Provincial Capital and largest city.  It had come highly recommended to us by people from Manitoba that we met while in Fargo to run our North Dakota race two years earlier.  It was an excellent choice.  We corresponded with the Race Directors (Nick and Les Paulet) several months before the race and they were not only very friendly (which, we understand, is a trademark of those living in the Province), they helped us get someone to watch Rachel during the race, they provided recommendations on things to see and do while in Winnipeg and Manitoba, they were great hosts, and they became friends who later in the year, upon our recommendation, would visit Utah where we would see them again.
As might be expected from an event sponsored by the Police Department, the race was well-organized, well-supported, efficient and safe!  Even the weather was cooperative - which had not always been the case in previous years.  They had some great swag for us after the race, coupled with a good post-race pancake breakfast.
The unexpected bonuses were what we were able to see and do while on the trip.  After flying into Minneapolis, we headed to Devil's Lake ND for some hiking in Sully's Hill National Game Preserve and a visit to the geographic center of North America at Rugby.  The following day we visited the International Peace Gardens on the US/Canada border north of Dunseith - a very impressive complex, though a bit early in the season for most flowers.
This was followed by a visit to Spruce Woods Provincial Park in Manitoba for some excellent hiking in picturesque dunes and forests, before continuing to Winnipeg, where we visited a vibrant recreation and entertainment area called the Exchange, Assiniboine Park, the Legislative complex, the Forks (historically significant at the confluence of two major rivers that were trading routes into and out of western Canada), and the Manitoba Museum.  When we left Winnipeg after the race we traveled east to visit lakes in Whiteshell Provincial Park before heading across the Canadian Shield - an amazing area of granite hills, forests and lakes.  We entered the US at International Falls MN, with a quick visit to Voyageurs National Park, before heading back to Minneapolis and the flight home.
Perhaps the "nugget" from this trip and race was just further validation of the truth I have been learning from our race travel; every place has something special to offer.  Sometimes it is the people, other times the scenery or the history, but regardless of expectations that aren't always high, we have never regretted the trips to new places.  Manitoba was no exception.  There were beautiful places to visit, great people to meet, and some history lessons along the way.  Not to mention the completion of Province #6!