She likes running in the bush by herself. But when others asked Dawna Jodoin if they could join her, she hit onto an idea that is now her business.
The Vernon ultra runner owns and operates Bush Babes and Bros Trail Running, open to adults 18 and over.
“We are a trail running company. We put on races, I put on trail running clinics and I do online coaching,” said Jodoin. “People hire us to take them out on trail runs to see the area. People usually say they want to see a waterfall or have views of Kal Lake so we’ll pick a trail to show them that. Whatever they want to see, we’ll find the trail for them.”
Jodoin started doing drop-ins with friends and guests on her weekend runs in 2007. She began the business in 2017. Her husband, Mike, came up with the name.
“I’d say I’m going running with friends and he’d say ‘Oh, running with the babes,’ then eventually, ‘Oh, you bush babes,’” laughed Jodoin.
Business has been good.
Trail running clinics she puts on usually sell out – her last one was 50 per cent sold in less than two days.
“This year, our spring clinic will be for regular and advanced runners because we’re so busy,” said Jodoin, who is helped out by 10 trail leaders. “Online coaching is going crazy. I just did a Facetime session with two new clients. It’s race season now. Everybody needs a coach.”
Speaking of races, Jodoin co-directs an annual event at SilverStar Mountain Resort called Slay The Dragon, which is part of Jodoin’s Bush Babes Trail Running Series which also includes two events at Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park.
Slay The Dragon is set for June 29. The two races in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park run Sept. 14 and 15.
The new Freaky Creeky race is a 10-, 25-, 50- or 100-kilometre trail run where racers can collect points in the UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc) Series and goes Saturday, Sept. 14.
The second event on Sunday, Sept. 15, is the Aqua Terra.
“This is a standup paddle, then you jump on your mountain bike, ride, come back in and go out on a trail run,” said Jodoin. “There are short and long courses, and you can enter it solo or as a team.”
Part of the proceeds from the race weekend will be donated to Vernon Search and Rescue and the North Okanagan Cycling Society.
Information on the race series can be found online at bushbabestrailrunning.com.
Jodoin took part in her first ultra race (longer than a marathon distance of 43 kilometres) in 2005, intrigued by a poster in The Starting Block store in Vernon with a skull and advertising a 125-kilometre “Death Race.”
Later this year, Jodoin will compete in the Sinister Series triple crown, three races three weeks apart from one another. The first two are in Alberta July 6 and Aug. 3, and are 160- and 125-kilometres. The final race is 108-kilometres in length in Kimberley Aug. 24.
Jodoin warmed up for the 2019 season by being the only Canadian woman to race at an event in Patagonia, Argentina, in the Andes Mountains, a 160-km event. She was the fourth woman to finish (18th overall out of a field of 360, 70 per cent of which dropped out) and was just nine minutes behind the third-place finisher.
“There was snow, hail and 54 glacier river crossings,” said Jodoin. “The weather didn’t bother me because I’m Canadian until I fell in a river. I never warmed up after that. I was in first place (for women) when I fell in the river.
“It was really cold. I was completely submerged. It wasn’t super deep so I sat in the river because I was so stunned. Another runner picked me up and it took 45 minutes to get to an emergency fire. My clothes were frozen to my skin.”
A big fan of altitude training, Jodoin loves to run at Silver Star. She runs five days a week, averaging about 100 kilometres per week.