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Monday, October 10, 2016

THE GOLDEN ULTRA: 3 DAY STAGE RACE

I signed up for the Golden Ultra way back in the spring. After moving to Vernon at the end of August (2015) I decided I would try and do some races that were more local to me. This was only my second race in the past year! I had a pretty fun 2 months off school and spent most of it gallivanting from one adventure to the next. I was feeling confident that I had done enough to toe the line at this event.

Day 1: BLOOD, 1000m of gain over 5km

I had no idea what to expect from this run. Uphill events are definitely not my strong suit. I've always looked at going uphill as a means of getting to go back down. But there would be no down...only up. I didn't really prepare myself for how steep the climbs would be. Maybe that was a good thing!

The race started at 4pm on Friday night from the base of Kicking Horse Mountain. The energy was really great and it was fun to catch up with some friends who were up from the coast doing the race.

To sum, you go straight up a ski slope for 5 km and in that 5 km you gain 1000m. Of course, there were times we were running/hiking on a logging road style of road which linked up the horrendously steep ski hill climbs together. It was pretty much head down, hands on knees and power hike. I was aiming for a pace that was hard but not blow myself up on day 1 hard. I seemed to be leading a train of men which kept me on my toes.

Day 1: 1000m of ascent over 5km. Photo by: Jay Klassen
I found myself in 3rd place and could see 2nd place ahead of me. I didn't want to go any faster and was happy to let her be ahead of me/ I couldn't of catched her even if I tried. Turns out 2nd place was Joanna Ford, who I ran some miles with a year earlier at Fat Dog 120. Alicia Woodside was out of sight and leading the women's race! The last 1.5k were on beautiful rocky single track trail and that was by far my favorite part of day 1's course. I finished up 3rd female in a time of 1:05.

It was a bit chilly at the top of the Gondola so Alicia, Katie Wadden and I jumped in an outdoor hot tub at one of the hotels at the base of Kicking Horse. This was incredibly amazing. Eventually we changed and made our way over to the Friday night pasta dinner and awards ceremony.


Day 1 podium. Joanna Ford, Alicia Woodside and me! Photo by: Jay Klassen
Day 2: SWEAT, 60km, 2500m of ascent

The start of this race was right in town down by the foot bridge. At 7:30am it's a bit of an early start but judging by last years finish times, we needed it! My legs were feeling pretty good from the previous days effort and I was excited to explore 60km of beautiful Golden trails. We started off running along a gravel path that parallels the stunning Columbia River. After roughly 1km we pounded the pavement very briefly before heading into the trails.The first 20km or so were awesome! The trails were flowy and fast however they lacked much in the way of elevation gain and I kept wondering where that gain was going to come from. I had been told that you basically go uphill for 34km but so far it didn't seem this way. Then all of a sudden the vertical came...and came...and came. I had been running with Joanna Ford for a descent amount of today's run and our chit chatter came to a bit of a hault. We stayed together for a little bit but eventually she passed me and was quickly out of sight. 

I can only describe the ascents as relentless. Once we started going up it didn't stop for a good 14km...or so it felt! However, there was so much beauty to distract your mind/body from the task at hand. The canyons and the ridges are simply spectacular. You'll just have to go experience it for yourself! 

Beautiful trail cut into the ridge line. Photo by: Jay Klassen 
Needless to say I was more than ecstatic to reach the top of the gondola where there was an aid station. Joanna was just leaving the aid station as I made my way up to it. Seeing her didn't make me rush out of there however...I just needed a minute to get myself together and prepare to switch gears for a long descent down the mountain. The descent immediately after the aid station is awesome- rocky, bouldery fun! However the downhill mountain bike trail to the base of kicking horse was a bitch! I realize I am starting to sound whiny but man this run was just kicking my ass. The trail was groomed and steep and I wasn't really even running. I was simply breaking and preventing myself from barreling down the hill ha. However, I am sure the pounding on my quads was made ever more potent from the fatigue I experienced from the ascent. The good thing is, that section was pretty short! I finally got to the parking lot at the base of kicking horse mountain and was directing into the trails by a woman dressed up as a giant lobster. That made my day! 

Once I got into the trail I began to walk. I must have been in a real funk or perhaps I just needed to give my legs a minute to adjust for what was to come...a lot of actual running. I had 20km of rolling single track ahead of me and I was pretty excited about it. After a couple of minutes I pulled my big girl pants and ran...slowly, ha! The next 20km were fantastic. I was strong enough to run the majority of it and I even made a friend! His name is Sean who is currently living in North Vancouver which is my old hood! He was having a bit of a hard time but I thought he was moving well. He was moving well enough that I didn't want to pass him. We ran the last 10km or so in the vicinity of each other. Once we finally reached the road with 2 km to go he thanked me for getting him there. I found this rather confusing because I ran behind him the entire time and it felt like I should be thanking him for pushing me to this point! The last 2 km on the road/gravel path were rather enjoyable. I felt strong in those last few km and was stoked to be crossing this finish line. I guess my lack of racing this year had made me a bit soft. This run was challenging and I'll remember it for a long time...or at least until the next adventure that kicks my a$$. I ended up 3rd female again today in a time of 7:23. 

Stage 2: Top 3 females


STAGE 3: TEARS, 20km, 620m ascent

At first I thought stage 2 should have been called ``Tears``. However, it all made sense when I woke up on Sunday morning to an aching body, wondering how I was going to race 20km. The good news is, I wasn't alone because most people were hurting. I started off pretty conservatively and just allowed my body to find its natural rhythm. Again, Joanna and I were pretty close together and I ran pretty close behind her for the first half of the race. Alicia, who had been feeling nauseous the day before was way out ahead and I assume Katie Mills, who won stage 2,  was as well. All of a sudden though her and another guy were right behind me. I guess they had taken a wrong turn which had costed them about 5 minutes. I tried to reassure her that she would most likely hold onto 1st place overall no matter what she placed this day because she had a huge lead going into stage 3. Her and I ran together for a short while and then I let her go ahead of me. At this point, I was pretty happy with where I was at. I knew barring any disasters I had locked in 3rd place overall and I wasn't about to make up 12 minutes to take second place. I was feeling surprisingly good (once I warmed-up) which allowed me to run most of the rolling terrain. I really just wanted to run happy, or as my friend Hozumi calls it "comfortably efficient". I came in 4th female for this stage and 3rd female overall. Click here for full results.

I am pretty happy with how the weekend turned out. I got to explore new trails in a wicked place and catch up with friends and make new ones! The race was very well organized and the volunteers were outstanding. On day 3 there was a volunteer jumping up and down in the forest as she cheered us on. She was still jumping and cheering upon my return through that trail some 15km later. It's people like that who make me smile.

Thanks so much to Magi and the Golden Ultra crew for creating an amazing race! I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone! If you are someone who likes a challenge, you will most certainly find it here!

Alicia, Katie and I stayed at the Glenogle Mountain Lodge and Spa, which is owned by a wonderful lady named Doris and her husband. They are a German couple who built the resort. I believe it is for sale. Doris was such a delight and even made us complimentary traditional German fried pancakes on Sunday morning. We ate them after the run and they were sooooo amazing!

GEAR:

SHOES: Helios SR and women's Helios 2.0 - I like the Helios SR if I am on more technical terrain and the women's Helios if it's non-technical or shorter distance.

SHIRT: I really am obsessed with the La Sportiva Speed T-Shirt. I love having a zipper on the front in case I get really hot, which I always do.

TANK: I love the La Sportiva Sprint Tank. It's super light and comfortable.

ARM WARMERS: If you don't own the La Sportiva Ultra Arm Warmer, GO GET THEM! You can get them at Capra Running in Squamish! Highlights: they include mitts, thumb holes, and a spot for your watch to pop out so you can still read it while you're running!

TRUCKER HAT: I just love a good trucker hat while I am racing.

HYDRATION PACK: Ultimate Direction Jenny Pack.

SOCKS: Defeet Monkey and Donut socks.

Happy Trails!!!!

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