Monday, October 10, 2016


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!


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!!!!

Saturday, September 3, 2016


This summer has been a real whirlwind of a good time. Essentially, I had 2 months off of school and I wanted to make the most of it. I had very loose plans and left my schedule open to bounce from one thing to the next and make random spontaneous decisions. It's been a gas and I now feel ready to go back to school!


Long before Peter and I were together he had this dream of doing the entire Stein Valley Traverse in under 24 hours. He had attempted it a couple of times but fell short due to weather.   

Peter and I have been to the Stein Valley twice previous to this experience. He took me there when we first started dating (2008/09) and we did a 38km out and back run starting from the trailhead in Lytton. Peter has a deep love for the Stein Valley and I was stoked to be here with him. 

Fast forward 4-5 years (2013) and we found ourselves once again heading to the Stein Valley. This time we planned on fast-packing the entire 90ish km trail in 2 days. We went very light and fit everything we needed into 18L packs. We brought a 1 man-tent, jetboil stove, neoair matresses and shared a sleeping bag. We both drove to Lytton, dropped a car and drove the other to the Lizzy Lake trailhead in Pemberton. Due to some sore feet and a storm we ended up taking 2.25 days to do the entire traverse. We didn't care, we were stoked. This was the first time Peter had successfully gone from one end to the other and again I was elated to be sharing this experience with him. 

Fast forward another few years (2016) and we find ourselves hiking in the Monashees a week or so ago. It's our first time in the Monashees and we're blown away by how amazing it is and are stoked it's within an hour and half drive from our home in Vernon. Feeling inspired I began to contemplate how I wanted to spent the last week or so of my summer break and the Stein Valley Traverse in under 24 hours goal silently crept into my thoughts. There must have been something in the air because Peter says, "we could go do the Stein" and immediately I said "YES!!!!". We got back from our trip and the planning began. 


We left Vernon on Tuesday morning and dropped one car in Lytton. We then drove our other car to the Lizzy Lake creek trail head in Pemberton. Our scheduled departure time was 12:30am and we each managed a few hours of sleep before leaving. I had everything I needed in an old Salomon 13L vest pack and Peter was wearing a brand spanking new Ultimate Direction Fast Pack 20. We decided to do the first section in the night because it's pretty straight forward. When Peter first did this trail back in the 90's, you could drive a car 11km up to the road to the proper trail head. However, this road was washed out many moons ago and was never restored. When we did this section last time it was really overgrown and the dew factor made for a pretty wet event. Thanks to Richard So and the VOC, all but the last 1.5km were brushed...yipeee!!!

Photo by: Peter Watson

We made good time hiking our way towards the Cabin. The night sky was clear and hiking under the stars was immaculate. The navigation was pretty straight forward up to this point but we started running into some issues on Cheery Pip Pass before the descent to Cultha Lake. It was dark and foggy and we could hardly see through the glare of our headlamps. At this point, there were only cairns to follow for navigation and it was slow going. If you look at our GPS file, we were creating squiggles all over the map. Although it was slow going, Peter always had an idea of which direction we needed to head and we'd eventually pick up another Cairn and get back on track. I think it may have been helpful to have been doing this section in the daylight which would have meant starting at 1:30am...just a thought.

Photo by: Peter Watson
One aspect of the Stein that I love are all the boulder field crossings and there are a plenty. I cant imagine having a 50-70lb pack on (as most do) and maneuvering along them all. Kudos to those people! The boulder field traversing by Tundra Lake is by far one of my favorite sections of the entire trail. I have never seen a lake so blue. There are no words to describe the beauty of this lake. You'll have to go see it for yourself!

Tundra Lake. Photo By: Peter Watson
Before we knew it the skies had opened up (literally and figuratively) and we were heading into the exposed ridge traverse before the descent to Stein Lake. The ridge system reminds me of the false summits at the end of the Fat Dog 120 but MORE! I took stock of this last time I was here and had mentally prepared myself, however, there's always more than I think! The descent off the ridge is a bit hairy. The trail is STEEP and the ground is loose and route finding isn't easy. You are constantly losing the trail. You wont get lost here but route finding is just slow.

Photo by: Peter Watson
We were elated to arrive at Stein Lake. This would be our first intentional stop. We had done a measly 38km in almost 11.5 hours, which was an hour and a half faster than the last time we did it. Last year I had a friend tell me her and some friends (who had never been to the Stein) were going to run the stein and expected to do it in 11 hours. I warned them that I didn't think that was very realistic. If you were going after it, I think an extremely fit person with experience on this trail (and mountain experience) could complete it in roughly 16-18 hours.

Photo By: Peter Watson
The next 55ish km are pretty fun. There are no really big climbs or descents however the trail is constantly going up and down. You can definitely run along this section but not all of it. There are a ton of scree slopes and due to the rain that was falling the rocks were super slick. The river along the valley bottom is beautiful and the cable car crossings are a blast.

New trail work! Photo by: Peter Watson
The last time we were here the trail was in terrible shape. Due to a fire in 2009 the alder growth was horrendous and there were hundreds of downed trees. After that trip we decided we wouldn't come back until the trail was cleared. In fact we had just chatted about going in ourselves to help clean it up. Luckily, BC Parks had hired a crew to clear it this year. THANK YOU!!! The work they did was outstanding and the trail was incredibly enjoyable.

Photo by: Peter Watson
As with most long adventures, we got to a point where we were ready to be done. Night was coming and we had roughly 25km to go. The timing was tight and we had to keep on pace to ensure a sub 24 hour finish. We finished with 23 minutes to spare in 23:37! A 12 year long dream of Peter's was finally in the books. As far as we know (Peter did his research) this is the fastest known time for this trail. We are both keen to know just how fast it can be done! Who's up for it!?


La Sportiva Speed T-shirt: I love this shirt so much. When I first got into racing I wore a bike jersey because I liked the pockets in the back and the zipper in the front. It's great for cooling off!

La Sportiva Tech Trucker Hat: I like sun and rain protection and I feel cool when I wear it :)

La Sportiva Ultra Arm Warmer: These arm warmer's are so bad ass. The have a thumb hole and a built in mitt!! The mitt came in handy keeping my hands warm in the rain and protection on the scree/boulder fields.

La Sportiva Helios SR: These have been my go to shoe ever since La Sportiva discontinued the Crosslite. They are so light but have enough protection to be warn for the long haul.



Petzl RXP: This is the new fancy version of the one I have.

Petzl spare battery: I love this!

Petzl e-light: This is an emergency back-up.

Defeet monkey socks: I seriously love these socks. I think they are made for cycling but I've been wearing this model of sock (images vary) for 10 years and rarely have foot/blister issues.

Patagonia Houdini windbrePaker: I just love this piece.

OR Helium Waterproof jacket: I love this jacket but it was almost too warm to wear it most of the time...even in the rain.

MEC Uplink Jacket: This is my all time favorite jacket. It was my really warm layer I brought. I ended up wearing it at night when it got really cold and it kept me super warm. I also used the same one on our PCT trip and it's still going strong!

Food: miss vickies Salt and Vin, PB and J wraps, assorted GU's and vanilla powerbar gels, cliff bars, assorted candy, honey stinger waffles.

Bear Spray! We hooted and hollered a lot too!

Pristine. I used this for all my water fills, however Peter didn't. He seems to be ok so far!

Peter carried the other essentials: bear bangers, sport shield, bivy sack, first aid kit, Delorme inReach, cell phone, leuko tape.

My next race is the Golden Ultra in 3 weeks time!!! So far I've only stopped in Golden for beer! I'm looking forward to actually checking out the trails!!!


Monday, May 2, 2016


My initial plan was to run the BMO Vancouver Marathon, however I found out there was a race in Vernon that same weekend. Having done the BMO 3 times already I figured I should be doing the races in my new town. It would also be a great way to meet new runners and connect with the community.

I signed up for the 25k because up to that point my longest run had been 18km. Juggling both school and work has proved time/energy consuming and I just don't run as much and for as long as I used to. However, I run the perfect amount for where I am at in this stage of my life!

The coolest part about this event for me was that it was entirely self-propelled. I sold my car a few months back and my mountain bike is now my source of transportation, It took me roughly 30 minutes to bike to the start/finish area. Luckily, Peter was working at the event so I could pass off my stuff to him.

I don't really know a whole lot of people in Vernon so I was super stoked when I saw Shannon Penway and her fiance Joel show up! It was a beautiful sunny and warm day and I was excited to get my first race of 2016 underway.

The race steadily climbs up for the first 5km or so. I had no prior knowledge of where the course went but I do run on these trails fairly regularly so I knew what was in store. I was around 4th woman as we began a steeper ascent up the lookout trail. In training, I typically run/power hike this hill but my body didn't want to walk, so I just kept running. It's interesting how I never know how my body is going to respond in a race. I would never had anticipated running that entire hill but I did and then made a small challenge to myself to run ALL the hills for the rest of the race. I was 3rd by the top of the climb and quickly passed 2nd as soon as we began the descent. I had first place, Ginny Sellers, in sight by the bottom of the hill. I met Ginny a few years back as her husband is who taught me how to do Lactate Balance Point Testing. She was proving to be much stronger than me on the climbs and it took me 10 minutes or so to catch her. We chatted a little bit and once the trail started to descend again, we parted ways.

The rest of the course is pretty rad. The most challenging section is up a trail that gradually ascends forever. Hills aren't my strong suit but I made that challenge to myself to run all the climbs and just kept running. I knew eventually this would lead to some rad downhill!!! I tried to push the descents as much as possible since this is where I can make up the most ground. It was a pretty hot day and I started to get little twinges in both my quads and later in my calves! I started to take it a little easier after that as it would come and go. Luckily I only had about 5 km left and managed to hold it together all the way to the finish line!

Finish line. Photo by: Joel Payeur

I was super stoked to finish in a time of 2:27 as the first female. More so, I was excited to be out racing with a bunch of people who inspire me to do my best! I was hooting and hollering with excitement all over the course. The views are so amazing in Kal Park and the terrain is quite varied. I highly recommend this race to everyone. There was an 8km and 50km as well. The 50km is 2 loops of the 25km course. Thanks to Dirty Feet for putting on a great event. Can't beat a finish line by the lake!

Thank you to La Sportiva for making awesome shoes that allow me to feel like I'm flying! I wore the Helios SR for this event which is a perfect shoe for the desert trails. I wore the new Speed T-shirt. I am a big fan of t-shirts when I race as it protects me from the sun and chafing! The zipper also allows for more ventilation! On the bottom I wore the Andromeda skirt which is the comfiest skort I have ever worn in my life. For hydration I used the Jenny Pack from Ultimate Direction however it looks as though they have a whole new line of packs and this one isn't made anymore.

When I haven't raced in a while it's easy to forget how much fun it is. I also never push myself in training as hard as I do in races, and it's great to remind myself what I'm capable of.