“We started from the bottom, now we here” should have been the anthem for Day 1. But I’m not sure that blasting Drake on the side of a mountain for trail runners was in the plans (maybe if we were in Toronto).
This past weekend, I made my way up to The Golden Ultra, a three-day stage running race (or relay) in Golden, BC, Canada. I would be taking on all three days (5K, 55K, 20K). Day 1 was a “Vertical K” — as it is called when it’s a point-to-point race up ski runs — and it would be the longest and toughest 5K I have ever completed. The day before I got a chance to meet and talk with a few of the runners in town for the race. Some I had chatted with on social before and others I was meeting for the first time. Everyone seemed pretty optimistic about the experience and was just going to approach each day as its own challenge.
Day 1: “The Blood”
Distance: 5K (3.1 mi)
Elevation: 1000m gain (3280 ft.), 0 loss
I connected with @RunEMZ a few minutes before the start. We were on the same page of staying together and just taking day 1 as a warm up for day 2 and didn’t want to burn out our legs/quads. The course started at the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort right next to a gondola that would take you UP the mountain. Overall, I think we ran maybe less than 10-15 minutes of the entire way. It was basically a really long hike up the side of a mountain. It wasn’t a switch-back type course, it was more of a “you are here, you have to get there.” That meant walking through fields, up rocks, until you couldn’t climb any more. The course was well-marked and there was never a concern for getting lost.
As we kept climbing, we would look behind us and see massive landscape views. It was absolutely gorgeous. I couldn’t help but just turn around and say “wow, look at that.” I’m not sure if Emz ever got tired of hearing me say that. It was truly remarkable. As we got towards the top, the course became a bit more manageable, less fields, more trail and rocky steps.
We kept looking up and as we started to see what looked like the top, we stopped to take a few pics because we needed to capture some moments on the course. We also caught very tiny snow flurries. Almost like light hail that was falling very slowly. Forgive this Bay Area runner as I might be calling this the wrong thing. Either way, SNOW.
We saw the finish line, ran towards it and day 1 was complete. We snapped a few pics at the top, and Emz quickly made her way down. It was cold at the top, but I stayed a few minutes to try to capture what we had just accomplished. This involved lots of pictures and selfies.
Total Distance: 2.96 mi.
Total Steps: 8,775
Total Time: 1:29:55*
Total Elevation: 3,360 ft
*official finishing time
Much harder than I thought it was going to be in terms of terrain. Most of the climbs on trails I have done in the past involve switch backs on trails — think zig-zagging up a mountain. This was more like climbing up an unofficial route along the side of a mountain. We were several miles in until we got to what I would consider a “path.” This isn’t a bad thing, just not what I was expecting. Looking back, I think that style of course may have actually saved some strain on my legs for the following days.
The views were absolutely stunning and since the distance was reasonably short, I was able to actually look at the views with little concern of having to “keep moving forward.” In hindsight, this was the most relaxed I would be across the three days.
Have you ever thought of doing a vertical K?