Tag Archives: running hills

Naming Hills

1 Nov

My face whenever I see a hill.

Maybe you’ve heard about Heartbreak Hill, which is a rise of some elevation that is part of the last legs of the Boston Marathon. Maybe you’ve also heard that the Boston Marathon is KIND OF A BIG DEAL and also that HILLS SUCK. This particular hill is located between mile 20 and 21, which is also where most people hit the wall. It rises 27 feet over 600m. The name actually originated in 1936, when an elite runner gave a consolatory pat on the back to his main competitor after the hill, which proved to bolster the dude, who went on to win, breaking the runner’s heart. However, because it SUCKS to run up a hill at the end of a marathon, the name stuck around. You can imagine how it feels to be running the most important race of your life, pushing yourself harder than you’ve ever pushed yourself, only to find you’re at the bottom of a big ol’ hill and you know you might die trying to get to the top of it. Understandably, Heartbreak Hill has stuck around as a nickname.

I have my own Heartbreak Hill. My Heartbreak laughs in the face of Boston’s because mine rises an eff-ton more than a measly 27-feet, and lasts twice as long as Boston’s 600m. Most people call it Seven Hills, as the rise takes place over a series of seven ever-steepening hills. I really wish I knew the exact elevation but I do know that the last hill is the steepest, steep enough to need a warning sign for trucks. I call it Heartbreak Hill because if I start my run from my house towards the rest of my town, no matter what, I’m going to have to first speed down that hill and then, on the second-to-last kilometer, run up it. And it sucks.

But my repertoire of hills doesn’t end there. I’ve also named twin hills Mount Doom and Cruel and Unusual Punishment. These flow into Idaho (a bunch of little rolling hills that remind me of potatoes), Bitter Mother-In-Law, and Step-sister’s Revenge. And those are just on a 10k route that has me heading away from Heartbreak Hill instead of towards it.

No relation to Mordor's Mount Doom. You doesn't simply walk into Mordor, nevermind run.

It goes on. There’s Serial Killer School Kid (a huge hill that has me running past an elementary school and many parents in parked cars), Daunting Dorman (sometimes known as Deadly, depending on what kilometer I’m on), and Haunted Haven (spits me out on a haunted trail, long story). Then there’s The Bell, which is a long, slow hill on the other side of the school and reminds me of the trek back inside after recess. There’s Wayward Willy’s Wanderings, and Vimy Ridge, which is also home to the local Legion branch.

The hill's still scarier than you, ginger.

Finally, there’s the worst hill in my area, which I decided not to honour with its own nickname because it sucks SO HARD. It’s Bluewater Hill, for any locals reading. It’s 3 km long. There’s curves that trick you into hoping it’s almost over only to smack you down when you round the bend and see the next part. I steadfastly avoid this one, and strongly resent having to do so because there are very nice roads and trails beyond it. I run it once a year, on a memorial 10k that starts in that neighbourhood and ends in our ‘downtown’ area. If the run wasn’t important to me I wouldn’t even touch that hill with a ten-foot pole.

If I was forced to name it, I’d call it something really derogatory. Like Buttface. Dogbreath. Your mom.

Or Low-Fibre Diet (nothing’s going nowhere fast). OKAY SO I JUST NAMED IT.


I guess the point here is that

a)      I have a lot of spare brain space, and

b)      I like to name things.


I think the reason I do this (aside from having not much else to think about when running around for a couple hours) is because it feels good to acknowledge the challenge, and then destroy it. I didn’t just run up a hill, I just dominated Vimy Ridge, yo! Suck it, Haunted Haven, you ain’t gonna ghost me today! Who’s the mountain now, Mt. Doom?!

What, I talk to deer. You're really surprised that I insult geographical features?

… Eat some bran, Low-Fibre Diet, if you want to keep up with me!

So gross, and so effective. Now I just want to go out and run LFD.

There’s also that whole thing about hills being good for my training. Whaaaaaatever.