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This 7-day women’s trail running and wellness retreat will take you into our favorite old-growth rainforests on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island. You’ll run among 800-year-old Douglas Fir trees dripping with bright-green lichen and feel the soft, loamy soil under your feet. You’ll run expansive beaches in Pacific Rim National Park, in awe of the ocean’s power and beauty.
Each day’s run is an opportunity to practice mindfulness, soak in nature’s beauty and embrace the joy of playing in the great outdoors. This low-mileage retreat features runs of no more than six miles, and includes walking breaks and plenty of photo stops. With the support of your dedicated retreat leader and professional running guide, you’ll feel supported and equipped to safely take your running off the road and onto the trails.
Each afternoon, you’ll have opportunities for self-care, whether you want some solo time to go for a walk, shop Tofino and Ucluelet, do a restorative yoga class for runners and participate in our wellness workshops or add a spa treatment to your experience. You’ll return home invigorated and refreshed.
Vancouver Island Trail Running + Wellness Retreat Itinerary
Day 1 | Victoria Arrivals and Retreat Opening
After arriving to Victoria in the morning (or the previous day), take a shuttle or taxi from the Victoria International Airport or Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal (allow approximately 1 hour travel time) to our hotel located in Victoria’s historic harbor. We meet at 3:30 p.m. at a meeting room in the hotel for the Official Retreat Opening Meeting (wear your running clothes). After the meeting, we head outside for an easy, short shake-out run and mindful running form clinic at nearby Beacon Hill Park. After the run, we return to the hotel and freshen up for dinner at a trendy bistro.
Overnight at The Magnolia, Victoria
Time on Trail: 60 -75 minutes
Day 2 | Cathedral Grove Forest Bathing
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll check out of our rooms and settle in for the two-hour drive north in a chartered private motorcoach to Qualicum Beach, where we’ll stop for lunch at a unique country market for an al fresco lunch and time to browse for local crafts and art. Then we’ll continue to Cathedral Grove, where we’ll pause for a short mindful walking experience among 800-year-old Douglas Fir trees. Then we’ll continue the last leg of our journey to Tofino, and check into our rooms at Long Beach Resort. Before dinner, we’ll do a short beach run right from the hotel then have some free time to freshen up for dinner at the Long Beach Resort.
Overnight at Long Beach Resort, Tofino
Time on trail: 60 – 90 minutes
Day 3 | Tofino Trail Run
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll have our first Wellness Workshop, then have a short drive to start of the Tonquin Trail, which takes us along smooth, crushed-gravel paths to a series of boardwalks and stairs that lead down the breathtaking Tonquin Beach. Our run ends in the charming coastal village of Tofino just in time for lunch in an upscale downtown restaurant (our driver will have brought your day pack with a change of clothes). Then this afternoon, you have a few options: browse the town’s First Nations art galleries, harbor area and charming shops, book a day spa appointment, or–if you’re feeling really adventurous–a two-hour trip to Meares Island in an open Zodiac boat. The boat ride is about 20-25 minutes each way, with the rest of your time free (unguided) to mindfully walk the Big Tree Trail, which has some of British Columbia’s largest trees. The old-growth forest consists of spruce, hemlock, and western cedar trees that are more than 1,000 years old. After returning to Long Beach Resort, enjoy some free time before we return to Tofino for dinner at a trendy restaurant.
Overnight at Long Beach Resort, Tofino
Time on trail: 2 – 3 hours
Day 4 | Pacific Rim National Park Beach Run
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll check out of our rooms and load luggage into the van. Drive south into the Pacific Rim National Park about 15 minutes to the Kwistis Visitor’s Center to begin scenic beach run (on mostly hard-packed sand) that will include some tidal crossings and incredible views of long beach. After completing this point-to-point run, our driver will pick us up and drive us into Tofino for lunch and free time to shop and explore the town. Then we’ll drive to the fishing village of Ucluelet and check in to our hotel looking out over the harbor. Enjoy some free time to relax before dinner.
Overnight at the Water’s Edge Shoreside Suites, Ucluelet
Time on trail: 2 – 3 hours
Day 5 | Ancient Cedars Loop Trail Run
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll start today’s run from the hotel, enjoying a longer loop run that takes us along a well-established trail along rugged cliffs and ocean views. You’ll discover spectacular shoreline panoramas and hike through ancient cedar and spruce-filled forest. Upon finishing the run, we’ll enjoy a casual lunch in town and then return to the hotel. After some downtime, we’ll walk to The Studio for a wellness workshop followed by a gentle, restorative yoga class designed for runners, the enjoy dinner at a nearby eatery.
Overnight: Water’s Edge Shoreside Suites, Ucluelet
Time on trail: 2.5 – 3 hours
Day 6 | Willowbrae Trail to Florencia Beach
After breakfast at the hotel, you have the option to take part in today’s run just on the edge of town. We’ll drive a few minutes to the start of an out-and-back run along the Willowbrae Trail, a gravel path with sections of stairs along which you can expect to see wildflowers and sea birds. We’ll run along the stunning South Florencia Beach before retracing our steps. Returning to the hotel by late morning, you’ll have time to pack up, freshen up and check out of your rooms before our midday departure. We’ll break up the 4.5-hour drive back to British Columbia’s capitol city with a lunch stop and opportunities to stretch our legs. We’ll arrive back at Victoria’s The Magnolia Hotel by late afternoon and enjoy some free time before dinner at The Courtney dining room.
Overnight: The Magnolia, Victoria
Time on trail: 1 hour
Day 7 | Reflection + Retreat Closing
We begin the day with an optional, 30-minute pre-breakfast run through Victoria’s Inner Harbor that starts and ends at our hotel. At 8:30 a.m., our group meets for the last time for a private breakfast and Retreat Closing meeting, during which we share our takeaways from the retreat experience, after which you have time to pack up and check out of your room. By 10:00 a.m. our retreat program officially ends and you can plan your departure by taxi or shuttle either to Victoria International Airport or the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal (allow 1 hour travel time).
Time on trail: 30 minutes
The total run distance for this retreat will be between approximately 24 and 30 miles. Each day’s run/walk (of not more than approximately six miles) in this itinerary is represented by time spent on the trail rather than miles run because the mileage covered will depend largely on your run pace. Faster runners will cover more mileage than slower runners on some days. These run times include breaks to enjoy the views, take photos, eat and drink. The precise route and trails run may change due to changes to trail closures, weather conditions, guide recommendations and other safety considerations.
Choose Your Dates + Customize Your Package:Vancouver Island Trail Running + Wellness Retreat
Vancouver Island is largely covered by temperate rainforest, featuring massive trees such as Douglas Fir, Sitka spruce and giant red cedars, some of which can be nearly 1,000 years old. These forests are dense, humid and thick with foliage such as ferns and mosses, lichens and fungi. All of our runs take place on established trails designed for foot traffic and are not open to bikes. Since the forest ground is so fragile and can be easily scarred by hikers, it’s important to always stay on the designated trail and in some cases, the boardwalk and wooden stairs. Since these wooden surfaces can get a bit slippery when wet, we will use caution in wet conditions and walk when its safer to do so.
Some trail sections may be rooty and rocky and present a challenge for new trail runners, in which case, you can walk or modify your running stride to account for this uneven trail surface.
When we are running on the beaches, the ground surface is mostly hard-packed sand, and is ideal for running. We may have to cross some tidal creek (when the tide is out to avoid wading through water).
This time of year, temperatures are starting to cool off and will be mostly in the high 40’s to high 50’s. Rain is highly likely, so it’s important to have a waterproof-breathable running rain jacket (that offers more protection than a wind shell). We will send you a comprehensive packing list so you know what to bring.
The weather is typically milder and warmer in Victoria, and will feel cooler in Tofino and Ucluelet, especially because of this area’s exposure to winds and weather blowing in off the Pacific Ocean. You will appreciate having a warm jacket to wear in the cool evenings and accessories like a hat and light gloves to wear while running.
Part I: Stress and Runners
Where does your energy go? Do you ever feel too tired to run? Do you ever feel so overwhelmed at the prospect of starting a training plan that you give up before you’ve begun? Do your long runs or hard workouts so wiped out that you’re pretty much useless the rest of the day? Discover what feeds your energy and what depletes your energy and how to stop the energy leaks.
Part II: Mitigating the Effects of Stress
How do you know if you're doing enough to build your fitness and reach your goals, but not so much that you're becoming depleted? You’ll design your own mindful running practice that will allow you to fulfill your goals and run with confidence. Discover how mindful breathing improves your running efficiency and dial down the stress response in any situation.
Part III: Values Inform Intentions
Running is an important part of your personal self-care routine, and yet, it can be so hard to prioritize sometimes. Fulfilling your potential is about living in alignment with your values. These mindful intention-setting exercises allows you to align your approach to running with you values around wellness, self care and fitness. Come away with a clear approach to balancing health with life's demands.
Natural Running Form Clinics
Part I: Power Posture
Use proper alignment to make gravity do more of the work. This reduces the muscular force involved with running so it feels easier and less strenuous on muscles and joints.
Part II: Focus on Efficiency
Use natural running techniques to drastically improve efficiency. You'll practice changing stride length, cadence and tempo on various types of terrain.
Part III: Find Flow
Put the pieces together to achieve the ultimate trail running experience. Learn to cultivate the circumstances for flow to occur by being relaxed and mindful.
About your Retreat Leader, Elinor Fish
Elinor Fish has worked in the travel, tourism and running industries since 1999. The Canadian expat, who now calls Colorado home, has long been an avid trail runner, writer and champion for women’s trail running. She spent four years as the managing editor of Trail Runner magazine, during which she founded Run Wild Retreats + Wellness in 2010. After witnessing the positive impact those early retreats had on the participants, Elinor started offering more running tours in some of the world’s best trail-running destinations.
Elinor’s magazine articles, public speaking presentations and retreat workshops about mindful running have since helped thousands of runners make their running a mindfulness practice to reduce their stress, overcome obstacles to consistent running and improve their overall well being.