Joanne Malar completes the recent Summerland Sweets Cross Country Race. The race had 7.4-kilometre and 3.2-kilometre courses. It was held near the Rodeo Grounds on the Trans Canada Trail.

COLUMN: Running in the great outdoors

Running, or should I call it jogging, is one of my favourite activities.

Running, or should I call it jogging, is one of my favourite activities.

Getting outside is my happy place.

Something about feeling the wind on my face, and being in nature while exercising is such a bonus.

I found after I had children, my window of opportunity for a workout was small.

When I had 30 minutes, the most efficient workout was to put on my running shoes and get out the door. No travel time, parking lot or registration wait.

A run would refresh me, give me a good cardio workout and clear my mind.

Often the things I choose for exercise and health are more about reducing stress, getting social fun time if I am joined by a friend, and moving my body.

From my office at the Recreation Centre, I can see gorgeous lake views within 10 minutes of my run.

I have figured out some great loops that continue to make me appreciative of the beautiful surroundings of Summerland and the Okanagan.

Within minutes I’m on, what a former big city girl would call, an old country road.

I run past vineyards, orchards, streams, paths through forested areas and lake views that make me want to take a photo.

When I lived and worked in Calgary, Greater Toronto and Hamilton I would be running routes in residential and downtown areas, which were not inspiring.

I find if I have an end goal in mind — such as signing up for an event or race, it motivates me throughout the year to continue my physical activity.

My end goal this year was the Oct. 2 7.4-kilometre Summerland Sweets Cross Country Race.

Its route was along the KVR Trail by the Rodeo Grounds and on Mount Conkle Park.

There were close to 200 people from all over the Okanagan.

I was so proud of the stunning route of the race; sweeping views of the valley, the Kettle Valley Steam Railway’s locomotive tooting its horn as we started, with wilderness and outdoor recreation opportunity at every turn.

The last portion of the race had a steep 350-metre climb up a rocky hill and a shorter sand hill lovingly termed the ‘vertical beach’.

With my trial runs I was hoping to be under 40 minutes.

I came in at 36:56 and was really happy with that.

I was proud to get a prize for my age category of either a Summerland Sweets jam, syrup or wine.

Although in the moment I felt like the race hurt and was difficult, when the post-race “runner’s high” hit, I felt happy, proud and was planning for next year.

In the Okanagan region, the places where you can go for a walk, jog or run on marked trails seems endless.  There are many running groups that meet to enjoy a good run together.

The Penticton Pounders, TriPower, and series such as Dirty Feet host a slew of runs and events all year. has a calendar of upcoming road and trail runs and can link you up with local running groups.

Joanne Malar is the program coordinator for Summerland Recreation, three-time Olympic swimmer, 2012 Olympic Commentator, kinesiologist and holistic nutritionist.