Signal Hill’s stairwell of pain

My Run is about your run, your favourite routes, what they have to offer and why you enjoy them. It joins The Tuesday Kick, The Sunday Read and other regular features on Sub-three. As always, I hope you enjoy the read and find it both informative and entertaining.

The Runner

Allison Mowat

Logistics Officer, Canadian Military

Current home: Kingston, Ontario

Age: 29.

A runner for 15 years, self-confessed Lululemon addict and running blogger:

A native Newfoundlander, it comes as no surprise that Allison Mowat would cite a run on the Rock as her fave. I’ve actually run the route she describes and can testify that it’s one of the more stunning you could hope to run anywhere, taking in both natural beauty and human history along the way.

Mowat calls her route “the best run ever,” and says it’s her “happy place that she thinks of whenever she needs positive thoughts.”

The Run

Place: St. John’s, Newfoundland

Length: As long as you like, but anywhere from eight to 16 kilometres.

Difficulty: You want to be as hardened as a Newfoundlander to run to the top of Signal Hill non-stop.

The Route

From downtown St. John, it’s only a short jaunt to the outport-like neighbourhood, the Queens Battery, which sits at the bottom of Signal Hill and looks out over the St. John’s harbour. As you pass through, be sure to admire the colourful houses and fishing stages.

You then arrive at the foot of the trail that wraps around Signal Hill. Also known as the “Ladies Lookout Trail,”  the path seems to go straight up the massive outcropping and is perilously exposed with steep drop-offs.  It reminds you that you are alive, and that if you get too close your body will be swept out to sea.

Upon reaching the top of the stairwell of pain, which is close to a kilometre of steep climbing, the reward is a breathtaking view of the city. Then it’s a quad-pounding run down Signal Hill Road until Cuckolds Cove Trail, and Cuckold’s Cove, with yet another great view.

From there, it’s possible to pick up any number of the Grand Concourse trails including Quidi Vidi and Rennes River and go as short or as long as you want on the winding, often hilly, stone-dust surface that take you through the city’s parks and along “ponds”(lakes) and brooks (rivers).  Overall, it’s perfect for a relaxing long run, a short run, an uptempo run,  or whatever you like.

Adds Mowat: “Except when there’s snow on the ground, St. John’s is quite possibly one of the best cities to run in.”


About subthree

A multiple award-winning journalist, I'm currently a contributing editor with both Canadian Running and Canadian Cycling magazines. My articles have appeared in Explore, Canadian Geographic, enRoute, The National Post, The Globe and Mail, and many other magazines and newspapers. Formerly a competitive cross-country mountain biker, I switched to running in 2006. I've run seven marathons, qualifying for Boston five times (and which I've run once). Generally, I've placed or won in my age group in races, in distances ranging from five and 10 kms to half and full marathons. I've also taught spin classes at a number of leading Eastern Canadian gyms. Sub-three was a 2012 #Runchat finalist for Best Overall Blog.
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3 Responses to Signal Hill’s stairwell of pain

  1. Tammy says:

    Sounds amazing!

    • subthree says:

      St. John’s is a beautiful city in which to run, but not surprisingly the conditions can be harsh, particularly the wind. Fortunately, those are offset both by a scenic trail system and a friendly and enthusiastic running community.

  2. Ian Cordner says:

    I used to run there every other day. It’s a great run, especially if you run the stairs & ledge on the sea side of Signal Hill. It can be quite foggy though!

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