Back in early 2015, Dave Cressman led his Distance Runwear training group around a bumpy 1.96k circuit in Queen Elizabeth Park he dubbed the QE Park Vert Loop. At some point I caught wind of the Vert Loop and out of curiosity, kept an eye on the minor skirmish atop the segment leaderboard. Cressman has a funny story about it that I won’t spoil here, but the end result is that Distance Dave has held the crown since June 25, 2015 with a blazingly fast time of 7:27.
Since then, I had noticed some members of Dave’s old running group — most notably Michael Brown — were still visiting the Vert Loop regularly and I kept telling myself I should check it out some day.
In early January of this year I decided to go searching for the mythical Vert Loop. I’ve run around the park countless times and figured a quickly-scribbled map based on the Strava segment would be enough, so, one night, with map in hand, I headed off to Queen E Park. I ran around the inner park three times with a failing headlamp, missed some key turns each time through, and went home empty-handed. I went back a week later, with a better map and recharged batteries, and on my third trip around the park that night, finally found the key turn I’d been missing. Eur-f’ing-reka.
While I was in the midst of my quest to find the Vert Loop route, I noticed on Strava that Michael Brown made a bold announcement that he would be attempting to do 100 Vert Loops in 2019 as part of his training for the Vancouver 100 and the Squamish 50 50/50. (Spoiler alert: he did. Michael kept a running tally his Vert Loops and would surpass his goal by the end of March, so he reset the goal to 200.)
Truth be told, I didn’t like the Vert Loop much once I first figured out the route. It was the middle of winter and maybe it was my distaste for scrambling up wet rocks or the kamikaze run down a waterlogged grass field. Maybe it was just the idea of going around that damn loop enough times to feel like I was making progress. Whatever it was, at some point, I got past my hang-ups and decided to make the Vert Loop part of my own Squamish 50 50/50 training. I grew to enjoy them and completed 50 Vert Loops by race day (including running my 47th and 48th Loops with Michael Brown — his 177th and 178th). I don’t know for sure if the Loops made a big difference in my training, but they definitely helped.
The Vert Loop 10k
This Vert Loop route is a 10-kilometre run featuring THREE Queen E Park Vert Loops starting with a short warm-up from Distance Runwear to the start of the Vert Loop on Midlothian Avenue, and finishing with a loop of the perimeter of Queen Elizabeth Park before heading back to the store.
The warm-up and park perimeter sections are relatively straight-forward so I’ve included just the detailed TL;DR description of the Vert Loop itself below:
Queen E Vert Loop
Keen observers will note I borrowed the UTMB logo in honour of Dimitri Mylonas’s 2019 run at CCC, and included one Vert Loop for each country the CCC passed through.