Vigorous Intensity: The one-day, three-activity Blue Mountain Multisport Challenge

Dave Barnes Illustration

words :: Laura Raimondi.

According to the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, health-seeking adults should put in “at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week.” To many of us, that’s pretty easy to achieve. So I felt the need to cram more of that “vigorous intensity” into a single day.

I decided to do this in my backyard, and Blue Mountain Resort hit all the right notes for my chosen activities: mountain biking, high-roping and trail running. All three had some element of newness to me. I prepared by calibrating my fitness tracker and making the commitment to give them all a try, even if the prospect scared me a little.

10AM: XC MOUNTAIN BIKING: 500 CALORIES

When I initially took on my Multisport Challenge I was pumped about the trail runs and the high ropes but the mountain bike was another story. I hadn’t been on one in years so I was certainly outside of my comfort zone in a “straight into the fetal position when asked to go for a cross-country mountain bike” sort of way. However, it was time to face irrational fears and give the sport another try. I tasked my husband with coaching me on the trails and borrowed a bike from a friend. And sure, I fell, I walked my bike at times, and looked a bit crazy yelling at rocks and roots to get out of my way, but that feeling of flowing along the trails was exhilarating. I stopped mid-ride to gaze toward the bluebird sky, feel the sunshine on my face and take in the serenity of my surroundings. Total bliss—until after an uphill climb I was hit with an intense burning sensation in my quadriceps. Fitness stats were impressive: My hour-and-15-minute session burned 500 calories. The husband invested a little less energy, 430 calories. Likely the result of stopping, waiting and shaking his head at the antics of the newbie biker.

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Photo :: Blue Mountain Resort

11:30AM: TIMBER CHALLENGE HIGH ROPES: 600-650 CALORIES

Next up: the Timber Challenge High Ropes Course. I brought a friend with me for some light-hearted competition. We completed the required ground-school training, set our fitness trackers and started the course. This wasn’t my first high ropes adventure, but I noticed a few new elements on the course—including a cabled snowboard, a climbing board and an auto-belay. All of which did the job of testing physical strength and mental focus. At the end of our two-hour-and-40-minute high ropes adventure I had burned 600 calories. My high ropes partner took the same amount of time but also completed the black courses and burned 650 calories. I’ll say this is a fitness tracker calibration issue and not a fitness level issue.

Photo :: Blue Mountain Resort

3PM: TRAIL RUNNING: 720 CALORIES

The final activity was my own personal Blue Mountain trail running series starting with Cascade. Trail running wasn’t new to me but it had been a while. And Cascade was a reminder of the cardio intensity of an uphill run. Round-trip time was about 35 minutes. This included a short break to catch my breath at the top of the trail and a moderate-paced jog back down. Calories burned: 200. And because my first trail run went so well, I figured I would attempt a second but at the other end of Blue Mountain: Village Way. With more switchback and less straight-up, it took about 30 minutes for a round-trip journey. Calories burned: 200. A third run took me up Village Way, across the top of Blue, and down the Grind. This five km route took 40 minutes and a 320-calorie investment. A couple of my running buddies completed similar trail runs at Blue. One completed the Village Way-Grind combo in an hour and burned 800 calories while the other completed it in a faster time while burning fewer calories. Based on our collective experience, trail-running is guaranteed a big fitness return on your time investment. 

Photo :: Blue Mountain Resort

My Multisport Challenge was a great way to test my physical strength and mental focus, and spend some quality time with friends. There’s not much in life that is better than that. So let’s raise our reusable water bottles or hydration bladders and toast to conquering fears and getting outside. —ML

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