Day two of the Golden Ultra will be no easy feat. Described as the “Queen Stage” The Sweat features 55 km of running, including 2500 m of climbing.
After a great first day at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, the Sweat moves into the Town of Golden for the start and finish at Spirit Square. Spirit Square is located in the heart of Golden’s downtown, immediately next to the historical timberframe bridge that spans the Kicking Horse River. The square will not only have the start and finish, but will also host a Farmer’s Market and (weather permitting) a live concert with awards in the evening.
After starting in Spirit Square, runners will run along the Rotary Trail & Kicking Horse Trail (roadway), heading west, on the north & east sides of the Kicking Horse & Columbia Rivers. The first 2 km of the long day is pretty flat and “enjoyable” until runners cross the single-lane bridge over the Columbia River and hit the trails.
Starting on CBT Mainline and traversing “Take it Easy” alongside the Columbia River the view are spectacular and the running is “rolling.” Once runners cross the Elk Road and start heading up Gold Rush, things start to get real. Gold Rush is a “preferred direction downhill” style trail, built for the local cycling club and climbs steadily for a few kilometres.
At the top of Gold Rush, runners get a bit of a respite with the topography flatting but remaining primarily uphill for the next 12 km. The trails following Gold Rush – Old Age and CBT Mainline – were built in the past 5 years and are buff and flowy.
CBT Mainline meets the Tallus Forest Service Road at approximately the 12 km point in the course. Runners follow the Tallus Road for about 500 m where they enter the Cedar Lake/Moonraker Trail System and pass the first aid station.
After getting some hydration and carbs, the course follows Arrowhead, Devil’s Slide and Klahowya out to the famous Canyon Creek. The views along this section are spectacular, and the trail is rolling, so they can be easily enjoyed.
Once at Canyon Creek (approximately 18 km into the run), the trail turns uphill for the next 13 km. The Canyon Creek trail follows the spectacular Canyon Creek canyon and then joins the Little Sir Donald (LSD) trail. LSD starts in a through a couple cut blocks (familiarize yourself with British Columbia’s logging heritage) before joining the rim of the Canyon Creek canyon again. Like Gold Rush, LSD is a “preferred direction downhill” cycling trail, but more advanced, so prepare yourself for a bit of help from your hands to get over obstacles.
The end of LSD connects with the Tallus Forest Service Road for about 500 m until the road ends. This will be the second aid station, approximately 27 km from the start.
From the second aid station, the course tucks into the Terminator Ridge trail that follows the mountain ridge to the summit of Kicking Horse Resort. The trail is very steep at times, but watch for cool historical features like the entrance to the Certainty Mine (there was gold in Canyon Creek).
Once the Terminator Ridge trail is the in the alpine it “flattens out.” Let’s say that there are a few descents, but it’s not super smooth running like runners will be craving at that point. Feast your eyes on the spectacular 360-degree views of the Purcell Mountains, Rocky Mountains and Columbia River valley, but watch for the rock stairs and technical turns on the trail surface.
The true summit of the day is at the top of the Kicking Horse Gondola and right beside Eagle’s Eye Restaurant. It’s no mistake that this is the location of the 3rd aid station, 32 km into the course.
From the summit of Kicking Horse there is nowhere to go but down, down and down. Runners follow resort trails to the bottom of the Gondola, then join a brand new trail that takes them most of the way (hopefully all of the way) to the CBT Mainline trail at Tallus Road.
The return to CBT Mainline will also mark the 4th aid station, at the 42 km point. After as much hydration and nutrition as their insides can handle on a long descent, runners will continue along the very buffed out CBT Mainline right to the Columbia River. From the end of the trail, runners follow the same route they did at the start for the final, flat 2 km to the finish line at Spirit Square.
Check out the elevation profile and download the Google Earth file at http://www.goldenultra.com/the-sweat/.
The Golden Ultra is a three-day stage running race (or relay) in Golden, BC from September 18-20, 2015. Runners may participate in all three stages as a solo or part of a relay, or may register for any single or combination of two stages separately. For more information, please visit www.goldenultra.com.