Recently a group of runners travelled to the Mexican state of Chiapas with Off the Grid to experience the festivals, markets, running routes, food and the incredible culture of a country all to often thought of for all-inclusive packages, beaches and daiquiris. OTG participant Darielle Teitelbaum recounted her experience below and over on her site


Photo: @klinckwort_laframboise

Photo: @klinckwort_laframboise

It’s rare for me to be unable to put things into words, especially after such a unique experience, but this has been the case up to now and left me wondering why. I’ve finally tackled my procrastination in divulging what it meant for me to go on Off the Grid (“OTG”), a runner’s retreat to Chiapas, Mexico. The trip was in collaboration with Mexican running retreat organizers, “Aire Libre”, and was certainly a trip to remember.  

Having had time to reflect, I think I’ve been unable to describe this trip because so much happened and it truly was a “you had to be there” kind of experience. Although it was only one week long, it was crammed with activities, festivals, markets, running, meeting new faces, exploring food and culture in Chiapas, and yes perhaps experiencing a bit of the revenge of Montezuma. I’ll be honest, it was not a relaxing beach vacation, but it left me feeling rejuvenated in a completely different sense. I disconnected from work and busy Toronto life, and conquered new experiences head on. I’d never done any trail running before, and felt pretty hardcore with my newly purchased hydration pack. I felt fit and unfit all the time, huffing and puffing for air while running in altitude but feeling pretty damn hardcore after a 20km + trail run dodging dead snakes (yes, that happened). Some of the best times were the random sing-alongs in the van, morning meditations and setting out our mantra for the run ahead and then sharing them at dinner time as a group.  

Photo: @klinckwort_laframboise

Photo: @klinckwort_laframboise

The town of San Christobal, where we stayed for the beginning portion of the trip, was a classic Mexican style town with bright colours and cobble stone roads. There were plenty of street vendors, but it also had hidden elements of modernity and top-notch restaurants and cafés. It had me wondering why I’d never considered Mexico when wanting to get off the beaten path before, as it reminded me so much of other places I’d been in Central and South America, like Nicaragua and even Bolivia. When we first arrived, we did a few shorter runs around the town to get acclimatized to the altitude and hills, and let me tell you, Mexico has HILLS! An “easy” 5km run took double the amount of time and left even the most fit participants feeling sheepish and winded. It was humbling to say the least.

Photo: @klinckwort_laframboise

Photo: @klinckwort_laframboise

I love people and meeting new people, which is why I’m never afraid to travel alone. The deep conversations with some of the Mexican women who came on the trip (and even ran for the very first time!) and hearing about their very similar struggles as entrepreneurs made me feel so connected and inspired. Because in the end, we are all the same, and it’s amazing how when you’re open you can connect with anyone no matter age, gender, culture, or race. There was an authenticity to this trip that no perfect itinerary could ever capture. I feel like we saw the real Mexico, from the eyes of Mexican people. And yes, sometimes we were tired or late or things weren’t perfect but that’s what made it feel like a real travel experience. It wasn’t an organized travel tour with strict time limits for each sight, but rather it was a guided entrance into a special community from insiders who knew the routes and wanted to share their world. Because of this we got to go into a normally guarded off Zapatista community, and saw incredible murals and artwork of people who are anti-capitalism and anti their culture being diluted by technology, modernity, and global conglomerates. These are not violent people by any means. We also had the unique opportunity to meet a co-op of women who support their families by making pom-poms. We learnt how to cook traditional food, and most significantly we ran through villages and saw the peoples’ connection to their ancestry as they farmed, raised animals and lived off their land.

Photo: @klinckwort_laframboise

Photo: @klinckwort_laframboise

Most noteworthy, and something I’d never experienced before nor did I know was in the plan for this trip, was the traditional Temazcal or sweat lodge. That’s another thing about OTG, it’s organized enough that you feel like there's a plan, but they leave plenty of room for surprises and unexpected activities! The sweat lodge is exactly what it sounds like, sweaty, but so much more than that. Our group was divided for the experience, as only a small amount of people can enter the dome-like structure, which almost looked like an Igloo. We were guided by a female shaman for this cleanse and rebirth ceremony. It was cold in the mornings and evenings, and we started our session at around 4:30pm. We stood unsure of what to expect, shivering in our bathing suits, although some people already had the experience last year on another OTG retreat.

We entered the small space and were told about the ‘4 doors’. These represented north, south, east, and west and were also a representation of phases in our life (which get repeated). Each door was also an opportunity for air and there was a delicious rosemary tea break in the middle of the ceremony, after the first two doors. When we sat down inside and the door was shut, we set an intention for that particular symbolic door, and marked it by criss crossing the burning rocks in the centre pit with a piece of herb or a piece of a cleansing scent, such as palo santo. It was intense inside as she added more water to the stones and the temperature kept rising along with the steam. We could sing or chant or talk or be still. For those who were really struggling, they could lay down or sit lower to the ground. Some people left between doors. I could barely talk and by the end it almost felt like panic to breathe, but then the door would open and we’d have relief. As the cold air seeped into our safe space we almost forgot how suffocatingly hot we once were. Pain is temporary. We peered outside the small entrance and saw the sun setting and the fire blazing outside our cocoon, as our next set of rocks were roasting for us. It was special. The metaphor is that you're in the womb while in the temazcal and experiencing a rebirth. So many emotions come up, as you fight to stay calm and stay inside. For each new door our shaman would explain the significance of the door or that phase of our life, and we'd set a different intention and begin the process again, watching her add water to the stones as the discomfort and catharsism set in. This went on for four doors. For me, it was amazing to feel and hear the emphasis she placed on our ancestry and connection to the land, our earth. It made our trail running on the Mexican soil that much more meaningful. It was hard to sustain all four doors, but was an amazing test for our will power, something we would rely on during our long runs. Afterwards we sat around drinking the rosemary tea by the fire, feeling so calm and energized and exhausted by what went on in that tiny dome. There was an unspoken bond and a sense of release and forgiveness.

Photo: @klinckwort_laframboise

Photo: @klinckwort_laframboise

All in all, as you can probably tell by now, this was an unforgettable experience for me, rich in culture, physical endurance as well as a reboot for the spirit. Being in nature is always the best way to strip down, be humble, and see the world with fresh eyes so that you’re open to receiving new inspiration and lessons. Things aren’t meant to be perfectly planned because it’s in the unexpected detours that magic happens. OTG definitely brought the magic and I’m forever grateful to the people I met on the trip who made the adventure so meaningful and special, and to our fantastic local guides for allowing us in to their world and for encouraging us to vocalize our mantras and embrace a new spirit. Let this be a reminder to take time out for yourself in order to be your best self. You’ll always return stronger, invigorated and more effective. Gracias amigos, I’ll definitely be back as Mexico has stolen my heart! xo


Pumpkin Pancakes


It's pretty obvious that Kortnee would never make pancakes from a box and while these may seem basic, these are not your regular Sunday (Runday) breakfast fare. 


  • 1-1/3 cups Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tbsp Nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp All Spice
  • 1/3 cup of Chia Seed
  • 2 Eggs beaten
  • 1 cup Coconut Milk
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Pumpkin (Purchase the canned Pure Pumpkin)


1.Begin preheating a griddle to medium or medium-high heat (350 - 375°F).

2.Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, all spice, chia seed, and salt in a medium bowl. 

3.In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, pumpkin and oil. 

4.With a wire whisk, stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until smooth. 

5.Ladle approximately ⅓ cup pancake batter onto hot griddle. Flip when bubbly and edges are slightly dry, about 3 - 4 minutes per side. Serve hot.

Saint Sebastian is Everywhere

On January 21, while inSan Cristobal de Las Casas we will take in the cultural highlight of our time in Mexico. The Fiesta de San Sabastian celebrates the encounter between the Pre-Columbian and Spanish worlds and is timed to coincide with the Mayan end of year ceremonies. This lively and elaborate festival spans multiple villages and includes traditional dances, beautiful and colourful indigenous dress and an even a reenactment of a naval battle.  

Here's 10 interesting things about Saint Sebastian, the namesake for one of the Chiapas regions most intersting festivals.

  1. After converting a Roman governor to Christianity, Sebastian was discovered to be Christian by the Roman Emperor, Diocletian, and ordered to be tied to a tree and shot to death by archers. 
  2. It is Saint Sebastian's martyrdom (known as the only saint to be martyred twice) and the belief in his protection that is celebrated during the festival in Mexico.
  3. In the American horror film, Carrie, it's a figure of Saint Sebastian that appears in the prayer closet not one of a crucified Christ, as often thought. 
  4. Saint Sebastian is celebrated all over the world in places like India, Puerto Rico, Brazil and of course Mexico. 
  5. Saint Sebastian is known as the patron saint of archers, athletes, soldiers and holy deaths.
  6. In The Godfather Part III, Michael Corleone, is awarded the highest honour in the church, as the Commander of the Order of Saint Sebastian.
  7. In 1968, Muhammad Ali was pictured as a modern day Saint Sebastian. It made for one of the most iconic magazine covers ever when George Lois, Esquire's former art director and the main inspiration for Mad Men's Don Draper, convinced the former champ that his own persecution shared a connection with the Saints.    
  8. Saint Sebastian did not die after being shot by archers but was saved and secretly nursed back to health by Irene of Rome. He was then sentenced to death by the Roman Emperor for a second time and beaten to death and his body tossed in the sewers.  
  9. Saint Sebastian has become a homoerotic icon in recent years continuing a reputation that calls for him to be all things, to all men.    
  10. The video for R.E.M.'s Losing My Religion makes repeated use of images of Saint Sebastian.




Hello OTGers,

We are a little less than 1 week out from our adventure in Chiapas, Mexico. By now you've booked your plane tickets and have probably spent a little time thinking about the breath-taking trails, delicious food or that warm Mexican sun you'll experience while down south. We can't blame you for daydreaming your way out of these frigid temperatures but before you pack your bags lets go over what to put in them.  


Bond Running has put together a little list to help you pack for your OTG adventure in Chiapas, Mexico. The printable packing list will make sure you bring everything you need and avoid packing unnecessary items. We’ve broken the list down by item, provided a checklist and included a section for other essentials you’ll need to ensure you have a great time on your trip.

All items marked with B✓ can be purchased at Bond Running. All others can be found at MEC. Bring your checklist into the store and we’ll help you pick out everything you’ll need. As an added bonus, showing us your checklist will get you 20% off your purchase! If you’re interested in a new Garmin GPS watch, all orders will need to be placed by January 7th to ensure they arrive on time. 

OTG Packing List Printable BW.jpg


Road Running Shoes 

Pack a pair of road running shoes for the days when you’re not in the mountains. Lightweight, breathable and adequate cushioning (your feet will thank you). Bring a model you’re currently comfortable running in to prevent any unnecessary discomfort. 


Regardless of your preferred length (2.5”, 4”, 6” or 9”) ensure you pack a few pairs of fast drying shorts. Make sure you’re comfortable with the fit and there is no chafing. 


Not just for racing, you’ll need a few singlets in your bag for when the temperatures rise. Look for cuts that don’t restrict your movement made from breathable materials. 


Three things to remember when looking for tees: Quick drying, lightweight and breathable. Opting for a lighter colour when in the sun will help you stay cool. 

Long Sleeves 

Yes, you still need long sleeves in Mexico. Look for breathable, quick drying materials for day and textured knits or merino blends for morning and night when the temperature drops. 


Protect your face and head from the sun with a quick drying, packable hat. We suggest a hat from Ciele for its wickable material, pliable construction (you can cram it in your back with zero consequences) and UV protection panels.   


Trail Running Shoe 

Mountainous terrain calls for shoes with an aggressive lug (tread) and depending on the footing, a rock plate. A rock plate is a protective material in the midsole that protects your foot when stepping on rocks or other sharp objects.  For wet conditions we suggest a waterproof shoe, think Gore-Tex. 

Hydration Pack 

Dehydration can set in fast, especially when running in hot temperatures. Hydration packs are an easy and convenient way to ensure you have enough water with you on the go. Look for a pack that fits your body and has minimal movement. 


Running sunglasses should fit your face and nose correctly, meaning they stay in place when you’re running, and provide adequate UVA and UVB protection.  Brands like District Vision have adapted different lenses for different types of sun coverage - yellow for low light (think sunrise and sunset), rose for trail running, and grey or black for all day wear.

GPS/HRM Watch 

Does the run even count if it’s not on Strava? Joking aside, GPS watches are helpful when tracking your pace, time and distance. Those with added heart rate monitor features will help you know when you should hold back or surge ahead based on your current heart rate. Advanced watches, like the Garmin Fenix even have mountaineering and mapping features. 

Quick Dry Towel 

A quick dry towel proved very helpful on previous OTG trips. Many contain antibacterial properties, absorb water quickly and dry in a flash.


Energy Gel and Hydration Mix 

Fueling is important on any longer run but is crucial when you’re running long in unknown terrain. Replacing the nutrients your body has used during activity could mean the difference of enjoying the run and struggling to finish. Generally for runs over 60 mins plan to fuel every 30-45 minutes. We offer a few great options from Skratch, Endurance Tap, and Maurten.




Shashuka is a dish of eggs in a sauce of tomatoes, onions and chili peppers. It is of Tunisian origin and is now popular among many ethnic groups of the Middle East and North-Africa. It makes the perfect post long run brunch for one or the squad.


3 cloves garlic, divided

- 3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces

- 1 medium onion, finely chopped

- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

- 2 large chopped jalapenos

- 1 cup of black pitted olives

- 1 teaspoon ground cumin

- 4 large eggs

- 1 block of halloumi cheese

- Salt and Pepper

- Hot sauce for serving


1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. Slice 2 garlic cloves. Toss with tomatoes, onion, 3 tablespoons oil, parsley and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet or in a shallow roasting pan. Roast until the tomatoes are shriveled and browned, about 45 minutes.

3. Chop the remaining garlic clove. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chopped jalapenos; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add cumin and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato mixture, salt, and basil. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are mostly broken down, 6 to 8 minutes.

4. Make 4 deep indentations in the sauce with the back of a spoon and carefully crack an egg into each. Add quarter inch slices of halloumi cheese and black olives. Sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low until the whites are set, 6 to 8 minutes.

5. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 2 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve with hot sauce, if desired. Serve with pita bread.


We came to Oahu's North Shore on holiday with close friends to celebrate and relax, but many of us were also weeks into our marathon training plans with lofty goals set for the fall. 

We knew that this wouldn't be your typical beach vacation; it wouldn't be all suntans, waves and drinks on the beach. Our training plans didn't seem to care that we were spending some time in paradise and thus we still had to put in the work. Thankfully one of us had been to this area many times and knew some great spots to run. That doesn't mean we didn't do some exploring, just that one of us always had a good idea how to get  back.


We learned rather quickly that we needed to avoid the hottest parts of the day, so we'd rise early in the morning for runs. Knowing that all of our runs would finish with a soak in the ocean made all the difference when setting the alarm for early o'clock. One of our mid-distance runs took us up a long winding road to Puu O Mahuka Heiau, a religious temple site that dates back to the 1600's with incredible views out over Waimea Bay. The tree lined road to the temple offered some coverage from the sun which was a welcome change. Sometimes avoiding the sun and its heat was impossible like on our Sunday long run in Mokuleia.  We knew the sun wouldn't show any mercy on the long stretches of open and flat road but they were great for maintaining pace and would eventually lead to a beautiful trail and the western most tip of the island. The view didn't disappoint even if a few of us came close to death to get there.


For speed work we hit a track at Kahuku High and Intermediate School, in the town of Kahuku. Circling it would leave our shoes and legs covered in a red grimy film like we had been training in Iten, Kenya. Like those who travel to Iten, we, without really noticing, had turned our vacation in the sun into our own mini training camp, but I'm sure our schedule involved much less running and way more beach time.

While most of our down times was spent in the ocean, on the beach or eating we did spend one early morning climbing the 3,922 stairs and 2480 feet of elevation up the Haiku stairs. This wasn't your typical off day; after a 1am wake up call, climbing through a storage drain, sweet talking a security guard and surviving the wind and rain we were rewarded with an unforgettable experience and view. Pictures or words cannot come close to doing it justice.

Some may think that vacations and marathon training don't really go together, and it does in fact seem difficult to do both well, but we some how managed to find the perfect balance of laying on the beach and getting out for runs. Having your good friends and travel companions also be your training partners makes striking this balance much easier and way more fun.


Recently a group of 9 runners (re: adventurers) from Toronto traveled with Off The Grid to Oaxaca, Mexico to run its surrounding mountains. This journey, curated and led by local running group, Aire Libre, turned out to be much more than any of them bargained for.  Below is an account from, Justin Close, one of those that made the trip. 



“It’s like… everything has a meaning” James said, looking at us from across his plate of quesadillas and hot cup of atole. We burst out laughing at the naivety of what he just said. At the time, James was referring to a burrito translating into English as “little donkey”, but after returning back to Toronto from a week in Oaxaca City and the Sierra Norte mountains, I’ve realized that what he said that evening was far more impactful than I could have imagined.

I can probably speak for everyone who went when I say that the fourth iteration of Off The Grid in Oaxaca, Mexico pushed us all out of our comfort zone. Some of us had never been outside of Canada or the continental U.S., most of us didn’t own the proper shoes or equipment needed for long trail runs until the day before we left, and barely anyone spoke Spanish. But, more often than not, being pushed outside one’s comfort zone is an incredibly humbling experience and really encourages one to grow.

We arrived in Oaxaca and immediately felt the warm embrace of the sun—something we had been without for several months now. Within those first few hours in the city, we were met at our hotel by Daniel and Ana, two amazing photographers and members of the Aire Libre running collective. That first night, we gorged ourselves on some of the finest Oaxacan cuisine (agave worms, ants, and grasshoppers included) and romanced mezcal. Daniel & Ana spent the next few days showing us around, patiently translating menus, organizing excursions, and being incredibly gracious hosts. It’s safe to say we would’ve been lost without them and how immediately they welcomed us into their family.

The fun and relaxation of the city was much needed for many of us, but the running we were doing was already proving to be a challenge. The altitude, pollution, and the occasional low-hanging razor wire caught many of us off guard and made us wonder how we would fare when the altitude was doubled and the terrain more unpredictable in the Sierra Norte. We just had to trust that like so many aspects of the trip thus far, everything would just keep getting better.

After a long third day of running, eating, shopping, and more eating, our group loaded up a couple vans with our bags and set off on a 3-hour drive up the mountains. By this time, we had met up with the rest of the Aire Libre crew, but it wouldn’t be until later that evening that we were properly introduced. The sun was setting as we made our way down the highway and out of city, and as we drove higher and higher up the mountain, constellations slowly began illuminating the sky. The further we went up, the brighter the stars got and the cell service became non-existent. After arriving in the small village of Llano Grande, we shared a light meal and sipped coffee, tea, and hot chocolate and each of us shared why we were there. Looking back at this moment, I have no doubt that every person in that room got more than they could have ever expected out of this trip.

The rest of the night and much of the next morning was spent shivering as we prepared for our first trail run in the mountains. The altitude left many of us short of breath while we walked up the small hill for breakfast. That morning we set off, bundled up in long sleeves, tights, vests, and headbands, but by 8 kilometres and the end of the first leg of our day’s run, many of us were down to short sleeves and looking to change into shorts. Temperature change notwithstanding, we had made it! We jogged into Cuajimoloyas and survived the first part of journey. Adrenaline surged through our body as we prepared ourselves for the rest of our adventure. For the next fourteen or so kilometres that day, our guide Carlos led us up to forested lookout points and down dusty pine needle-laden trails, culminating in an insane ascent up to his home village of Latuvi. 

The day prior, when Mau (one of the co-founders of Aire Libre) told me that Carlos was a beast, I can honestly say that I was not expecting those words to be so true. Carlos ran every single kilometre in long, heavy basketball shorts and an old pair of Nike high-tops that had been worn slick. Running with him and seeing him almost float across these trails and climb hills without breaking a sweat really put things in perspective when most of us were totally geared out and had spent so much of the beginning of the trip touting the benefits of a merino blend running shirt, or comparing the new trail shoes we had just recently bought. When we arrived at Latuvi though, our perspective had shifted. We were no longer comparing gear, but sharing stories over cold Coronas about how epic the trails were and how much our quads would hurt the next day. That evening we ate, laughed, drank, and practiced yoga as the sun went down over the mountains and some local children looked on and laughed at us.

When we woke up the next morning we practiced our mindfulness, reflecting on what we’ve experienced, and preparing ourselves for what was to come. We developed our personal mantras that would prove invaluable for those moments on the trail when our muscles cramped and ached but we had to keep pushing ourselves. As we ran the fourteen kilometres to Lachatao, we passed revolutionary trenches, century-old Spanish bridges, Zapotec trail markings, and ran through the forest of ghost trees (trees with wispy strands of white moss that hung down from their branches). There was such a unique tension that was experienced while running this leg—the desire to push forward and fly across the technical terrain, and the desire to just stop, walk, and take in all the scenery. Eventually the trail ended and we came upon a dusty road where Ana and our support van were. When we found out that it was only 3km to Lachatao and the end of our run that day, we dropped our hydration packs into the van, lightened our load, and took off like a pack of wolves through the rolling hills towards the village square. The exhilaration of pushing pace with one another was only a fraction of the excitement that would occur that day. 

After lunch we met up with the village’s shaman who, wearing blue jeans, a white traditional Oaxacan shirt, and a red bandana, looked like he could very well have been a Cheech & Chong impersonator. Our group gathered in a circle around him as he prepared to perform a limpia —a traditional ceremony to cleanse one’s aura. He assembled wild basil, eggs, mescal, and burned copal, which he would use to invoke the gods and cleanse us of our negative energies. First, he covered us in the smoke of the burning copal, then he individually brushed us with us with our bouquets of basil. He then proceeded to rub the shelled egg over our limbs, and when he brought out the mezcal and spat it all over the first person in the group, we tried incredibly hard not to laugh. As the process went on, person-by-person, the laughter stopped. Time passed and the sun was beginning to go down. You could tell everyone was starting to get antsy. An hour passed and he wasn’t halfway through the group. Many of us began to wonder whether this was worth the wait. As my turn approached, I stood in front of him and tried my best to disconnect. The shaman chanted and invoked the gods and did what he had done to everyone else, coating me in a perfumed blend of copal, basil, egg, and mezcal. After he finished with me and move on to the next person in the circle, I eventually opened my eyes. I can’t exactly describe the feeling, but I felt an inner-calmness. My body, which felt fragmented by a multitude of experiences, emotions, and the pain from running, now felt whole.

The next part of the limpia would prove to be even more transformational. In small groups we entered the temazcal—a small igloo-like clay structure meant to symbolize the mother’s womb. We were handed another bouquet of herbs and maracas and flutes (some of us *cough* Jess *cough* clearly did not know how to play the flute, and almost choked on it). We sat cross-legged around the temazcal, forming a circle around a pit in the centre. Rocks, which had just been in a fire outside were shovelled into the pit and the shaman entered and closed the door behind him, engulfing us in darkness, heat, and steam from water poured on to the rocks. Over the course of the next hour, the temperature would rise significantly and we would sweat like never before. The shaman led us through various chants, songs, and primal sounds, totally immersing us in an experience of rebirth. Needless to say, we slept like babies that night.

We packed up the van early the next morning and drove back to Latuvi to eat breakfast and start the final legs of our journey. Setting out that morning, many of us knew we’d need our mantras to get us through the day. All we’ve gotta do is just keep moving forward, I said to myself. No stopping, just keep moving forward. KMF. My quads burned and trembled over the next 10 kilometres. After about 6k, I knew I had to really push if I wanted to make it to the next village. I loaded up some music on my iPhone and set it in the front pocket of my hydration pack. There was no need for talking anymore as Mau and I charged up the next hill, the tempo set by Kanye’s Highlights. We ran stride for stride for several kilometres, emerging from the trail and descending down into the village of La Neveria. 

As a group we spent the next several hours eating our final lunch together and preparing for the last 8km of the trip. After lunch, we hiked to explore a local waterfall and prepped ourselves for the final run. Carlos explained the route to us, and despite many of us catching the words “ muy grande” and “intenso”, when it was translated into English, it was described as a “super chill run, mostly flat, with a little bit of a hill at the end. By this point, we had caught on—the word “flat” to Mexicans meant “rolling hills with a 500m+ elevation gain”. Despite the absurdity of the incline of the next part of run, we kept moving forward. You forget how steep the terrain is, or the abundance of lactic acid in your legs and just give in to your surroundings when the trail you’re on is surrounded by 8ft agave plants. And then the trail ends. You hike up the last 400m of steep hill and everything starts coming together. With every one of those steps you start to reflect on the experience you had over the past week. Every time you pushed yourself, every time you stepped outside of your comfort zone, every smile and laugh you shared with a group of people you now consider your family… everything is starting to make sense. Everything has a meaning. After that climb up the hill, each one of us stood at the foot of a 100m long suspension bridge and ran towards these new family members. The bridge would sway and shake with every step, but the perseverance to keep moving forward remained sturdy. 

Over the course of the week we spent in Oaxaca, our minds, bodies, and expectations were pushed to the limits. We were humbled by the culture, the beauty, the history, and the landscape among many other things; and, as is the essence of any OTG adventure, we found new ways of connecting with others and ourselves. Most importantly, what we may have lacked in expectations more than made up for itself in memories.

-Justin Close

2016 Cabot Trail Relay

Recently some of OTG's close friends in running and life took to the hills of Cape Breton to tackle the Cabot Trail Relay.  17 strong and determined women climbed mountains, concurred the darkness and inspired all who experienced their journey through the screens of their phones and computers.  Here is a sampling of the photos some of them shared through social media. Check #campsaturdays and #relaycollective on Instagram for more. Thanks for sharing and being badasses ladies!

Canadian Runner Takes on the Barkley Marathons

Vancouver's own, Gary Robbins travelled to Tennessee for the 2016 Barkley Marathons and made it further than any Canadian in the history of the race has.  A truly unique race that is difficult to explain and next to impossible to complete, Barkleys calls for participants to tear a page from specific books to prove they reached the checkpoints. 

Robbins was running on about 90hrs without sleep and made it four and a half loops into the five loop course before time expired.  His sleep deprivation caused him to make a key navigational error, wander in circles through parts of the forest and hallucinate.  

A fixture on the trail and ultra running scene for years, Robbins plans on returning to the tough terrain of Frozen Head State Park in the near future to complete one of the worlds most bizarre races.

Peep Robbins' race recapp here

Musings from Off The Grid:

The Speed Project

So we are a few days out from running The Speed Project and things are all in place. 

It turns out having all of the information can be just as scary as not having enough. We’ve got enough maps, guidelines for runners and drivers, lists, and aerial photographs to make the most worrisome person even more worried. My type A personality likes getting lots of info but I'm definitely suffering from a bit of information overload.  

The past concerns of snakes and wild dogs and the new, potentially more serious problem of desert-roaming-meth-heads, will be dealt with in a manner that threatens to be more violent than I would care for. Our LA based contact has secured us pepper spray, stun guns, an RV and muscle.  We graciously turned down (for now) real guns, and a bike gang.  

It has been nice to have these types of concerns to distract me from the fact that I’m about to run 90km in two days through LA streets, Death Valley, and into Vegas. Collectively our team of 6 runners and 2 supporters will cover 340 miles. How does one prepare the body and, possibly more importantly, the mind to take on a challenge like that? I don't think there is one correct answer but any answer would have to involve running a lot.  

The time for preparation is done, we are days away so its too late to make up for missed training sessions. The only thing left to do is step outside of our comfort zones and enjoy the adventure; I just hope the desert-roaming-meth-heads can’t keep up.

Follow Up:

90KM in 1 Day Through a Desert: The Video

Did you enjoy the interview with Knox Robinson about his 90km run through a desert with a few friends while in Mexico? We knew you would. We also know you'll love the video. Watch it, be inspired and then go, get off the grid. 

Musings from Off The Grid:

The Speed Project

Recently a few friends and I committed to running in a relay from LA to Vegas called The Speed Project. Now this is totally an Off The Grid experience for me as it is completely outside of my comfort zone, but they say that's where personal growth happens, right? 

Beginning before sunrise on the Santa Monica pier and ending under the bright lights of the Vegas strip, the speed project is no joke. 300+ miles to be covered by 6 runners, supported by 2 dear friends responsible for driving, first aid, navigation, protection and the provision of good stories.  With crazy temperature and elevation changes, through dserts and major cities we are in for an epic adventure.

Attempting to find out additional information on this relay is next to impossible. I'm not an internet searching wizard by any means but as far as I can tell their is no website, Facebook page or Instagram account that offers any sort of decent insight. I deduced this to be a choice by the relay organizers to continue a sense of mystery and to perpetuate the feelings of fear that people like me are dealing (or not dealing) with. Let me point out that it is universally understood that withholding information in most situations (in business or otherwise) is in poor taste and leads to mistrust and spoiled relationships.

So far the only communication and information provided has been through email, what is this 1999? When scanning the email, cause honestly no one actually reads emails completely, words like snakes, wild dogs, barb wire and cold jump out at you. I've figured out that seeing these words in relation to a race leads people to feel one of two ways.

1) Badass- like, "Awesome! This is going to be great, I've never run from snakes and wild dogs while hurdling barbed wire before."


2) What the fuck did I sign up for?

I fall squarely into the second camp recalling my fear of wild dogs, snakes and barbed wire. These fears aren't based on any of my own real life experiences but rather on the experiences of people I (kinda) know. People like Aladdin, yeah that's right, that Aladdin. A loveable, down on his luck, kind hearted rascal of a boy who only wants some bread and the love of the beautiful Jasmine. But in steps the evil villain Jafar, not just any villain but the primary villain in the Disney Villians franchise. What does Jafar carry you ask?...a snake shaped staff. Jafar is basically the human representation of a snake. Sneaky, short tempered, and willing to strike at anything at any time, provoked or not. Young man in the desert on a flying carpet or young people running in the desert, both are in for a battle. How this doesn't seriously concern anyone else is beyond me.

Maybe its my fault for googling “snake attacks Las Vegas” but I can’t un-see what I’ve already read.  Here are a few stories from the search.

Snake attacks man at Las Vegas swap meet

Las Vegas toddler survives 300lb snake attack

Man suffers injuries in snake attack

Whoa! Hold up, a 300lb snake! That can’t be real. Wrong, it is, and if you are brave enough to click the link you’ll read how it basically took a half dozen police officers, animal control and the babies knife wielding mother to stop the snake from squeezing the life out of the baby.  I know, I know, it ended ok and the baby survived, but unless my team has room in our RV for 6 police officers, some animal control workers and my mom, I don't like our chances.  Honestly though, what are we supposed to do if we come across a 325lb, 18ft snake?  I’m being serious, do you go for an eye gouge or play dead, what is the protocol?    

My fears don't end there. I'm also fairly concerned with the wild dog thing. We all know what wild dogs are capable of.  If one wild dog (re: dingo) can take a baby from under the watchful eye of its parents, what are a pack of them capable of doing to a dehydrated and delirious runner in the middle of the night? Regular people get attacked by dogs that we provide shelter, feed and love like children so its pretty dumb to think that the dogs we've basically neglected and starved are going to just let us run by without incident. 

This may seem like a joke, but while doing "research" for this I came across some deeply troubling information. "In 2011, in an article on the Stray Dog Population, the U.S. National Animal Interest Alliance said that the rabies epidemic in stray dogs around the world has transformed into a global public health issue". The World Health Organization also released these alarming stats:

  •  There are 200 million stray dogs worldwide
  •  More than 55,000 people die from rabies each year
  • Dogs are the primary source of human rabies deaths

Do the math! We are going to come into contact with a wild dog, someone is more than likely getting rabies from that wild dog and then I think you can connect the dots from there.  It's terrible to say but I just hope it's not me.

I'm not even going to go into the barbed wire thing but I will ask you this. What is the barbed wire keeping out or in?

Think about it….Yeah, exactly.

We are one week out from the registration deadline and 5 weeks out from the relay. We’ve been promised more info soon but unless this information includes detailed ways to deal with the fears I’ve laid out above I’m not sure what the point would be. It’s not like I'm going to back out now though, I’ve already bought flights, hotels and a flying carpet.

To be continued...


90KM in 1 Day Through a Desert


NYC run coach, Black Roses run crew co-founder and one of the greatest current contributors to running culture, Knox Robinson, ran through the Mexico's Sonoran Desert with a few friends from NYC and "a loose-knit collective of young creatives" called Aire Libre in a true Off The Grid experience.  Head over to Amuse to read the full story.


See what training with an elite group of Olympic hopefully looks like by checking out the work of creation agency Sprint Step.  Take a look at the Oregon Track Club runners through the lenses of Sean Lee, Fred Goris, John Jefferson, and Zach Hetrick by heading to the Sprint Step site and checking out the beautiful images.  


If you've missed the OTG retreats you've missed a lot. Good people, good workouts and good food. In the coming months this spot will be bringing you a little bit of the experience that our team works so hard to create outside of the city. So look here for a sample of what we do when we are away. No travel necessary.  

Frst up...

Kortnee's Country Kitchen

When we asked Kortnee Borden to be our resident chef at Off The Grid we knew he'd easily handle all of our food needs. What we didn't know is that he would absolutely kill it. He has almost single handedly made the OTG retreats as much about quality food as they are about quality work outs. He's our real MVP when we get away and we've asked him to share a retreat staple. So here it is...

Kale Salad

Kale (1 bunch - chopped)

2 Chicken Breast (boneless/skinless)
1/2 Cup Pumpkin Seeds
4 Green Onion (chopped)
1/4 Cup Sesame Oil
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
3 Tbsp Miso Paste

1 Tbsp Ginger (grated)
1/2 Cup Walnuts (chopped)
Sesame Seeds
Nori (Seaweed) (cut into thin strips)

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Place chicken breast in a roasting pan and drizzle soy sauce and a touch of sesame oil on chicken. Once oven is heated place the pan in the oven for 40-45 mins (turn chicken over at the half way point).

In a large salad bowl, add chopped kale, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and seaweed.

In a small bowl, mix sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, and miso paste. Mix until miso has emulsified into the dressing.

Once chicken is cooked. Take the pan out of the oven and allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 mins. After it has rested cut the chicken breast into 1/2 inch strips to place in salad.

Add chick breast to the large salad bowl. Drizzle dressing on salad (add as much or as little as you please). Sprinkle sesame seeds and green onions into salad bowl. Toss the salad.

Serve and enjoy!

Kortnee's Notes:

This is a great salad for post runs. Easy to make and packed full of protein. This is definitely my "go-to" after a long run during a training cycle. A good vegetarian/vegan option is to replace the chicken breast with tempeh.


Vintage Boxcar Cottage + Home

We first found Vera, and her little red boxcar cottage, on Airbnb while searching for a location for the winter edition of Off The Grid. We were immediately excited by all of the possibilities the location, accommodations and amenities afforded us. The winter edition of OTG was always going to be about the contrast between hot and cold and it's benefits for performance and Vera's property worked perfectly for our plan because of its infrared sauna, chemical free hot tub and pool, acres of property and kilometers of trails to explore. The success of our winter retreat had a lot to do with Vera, her unique boxcar, her beautiful home and the surrounding terrain.  The retreat would not have been the same any where else and we are happy and thankful Vera welcomed us in and contributed to the unique experience that is Off The Grid. 

That's A Wrap...

The winter edition of Off The Grid ended last week and we couldn't be happier with the way it all went down.  Together we ran long country roads and winding wooded trails, worked on our breathing and mental strength with meditation techniques, practiced yoga, pushed through a met-con class, ate like kings and queens, watched movies, swam, hot tubbed and enjoyed every moment we spent escaping from our daily lives.  Special shout out to all of those that attended, our sponsors and supporters, but especially our resident chef Kortnee Borden, Kate Evans of City Yogis and Jenny McConnell from Academy of Lions, who gave their time and expertise to make the retreat a success. It was a special three days that worked perfectly to bring 2015 to a close and kick start all that is to come in the year ahead.  We've got plans to provide you with more opportunities to run away, so stay tuned.  

Off The Grid Podcast | Ep #1 | Stories From Outside The Comfort Zone

Off The Grid started with a problem. 

Running in the city is fun, challenging, fluid, exciting and lends itself to making good friends quickly. We have busy lives, and our weekly Run Crew meet-ups provide opportunities to find out more about each other while heading in the same direction. 

But the city is demanding. There are many things competing for our attention and time. We all want things, too. Big things, like better times, faster paces, fitter bodies, calmer minds and success in just about everything we do. City people choose to stretch themselves beyond what may be humanly possible. Or was - once. 

All of this is good and necessary for evolution - personally, professionally, athletically. But the body & mind require time and space to assimilate everything we put them through in the name of progress & success. 

We thought to ourselves, wouldn't it be great to get away for a bit. But not away from our friends and fellow runners. We wanted to go with them, and experience some new things in new places but with the same community.

That's when we started to solve the problem. 

Listen to the podcast. We're telling the story in our own voices. And we hope to tell more of them as time goes on as we meet people who have their own stories of escaping the comfort zone. 


Off The Grid doesn't happen without the effort, time and sacrifices of these supporters, collaborators and teammates

 Allister Lee

We, at Off The Grid, are happy to count Allister Lee as one of our friends, supporters and creatives. Allister is a very accomplished And respected graphic artist who specializes in branding and the creation of "graphic collateral" for clients such as Nike, The North Face, adidas, Marie Clare, Supreme, and Converse, among many others. He is the man behind our logos, hand made signs and a few of our very best ideas. Having experienced Woodfield Farm, the site of the inaugural OTG, and worked closely with us on the daily, we are thankful that Allister gets our vision and ideas and will be a big part of bringing them to life in the future. 


Off The Grid doesn't happen without the effort, time and sacrifices of these supporters, collaborators and teammates

G6 Climbing Apparel/Low Gravity Design  


What started as a few T-shirts for a weekend away with friends has developed into a growing business with a meaningful identity in the Canadian climbing community. 

James Koka started his printing business making custom designed rock climbing appareal (G6 Rock Climbing Appareal), but has since expanded to print for local run clubs including Parkdale Roadrunners, Blacktoe Running, Castle Runners, Tribe Fitness and companies such as Nike and New Balance under the name "Low Gravity Design". James loves the outdoors, is an avid runner and has supported us, at Off The Grid, from the start by being a willing participant and providing great and timely service. Since both OTG and G6/Low Gravity Design were born out of active lifestyles and a need to escape the hustle of the city it only makes sense that a quality, rock-solid partnership has developed.