There's nothing like waiting for it... at long last, we present the detailed course description for day 3 of the Golden Ultra: "The Tears."
This course was a tricky one to design to make sure we hit all the best trails in the Mountain Shadows network and developed a nice loop with no cross-overs. The final step of the design process was to literally run the course past a couple local runners, including Roger Smith who describes those very trails as his "church."
While this stage was originally going to be “flat and fast,” it’s not exactly flat and probably not fast (it’s technical) but it will be another great day on the trails, and a fantastic way to cap off the inaugural Golden Ultra.
Similar to The Sweat, runners will start at Spirit Square, but this time head across the historical timberframe bridge across the Kicking Horse River and follow the Rotary Trail along the south side of the river for approximately 2 km before the first challenge awaits.
After departing the river banks, the Rotary Trail kicks steeply upward for about 300 metres of pain, or “tears?” That short shock is followed by another 1.5 km of nice rolling running on double-wide Rotary Trail before crossing Bowie-Evans Drive and into the beautiful single track of the Mountain Shadows trail system.
Cruising along Selkirk Slacker is pretty nice until the hard left turn onto Quinton’s at "the big trees" and the subsequent right turn onto Huff and Puff - aptly named. This “inner loop” gets the juices flowing for what’s next. Huff and Puff is normally descended on a mountain bike but the views and flow go equally well uphill for runners. Quinton's and Huff and Puff run through a relatively new cut block so you also get to enjoy mountain views.
As you leave the cut block on Huff and Puff you will take a quick right turn down a steep hill to Kobe's, not far from where you left Selkirk Slacker. Continuing on Kobe's you head south with a bit of climbing, some nice switchbacks and overall great single track.
Kobe's ends at Huff and Puff (a section that you have not yet run) and subsequent right turns take you on to Magic Dragon and Trial and Error. While the trail name descriptions through Mountain Shadows sound confusing it's actually pretty easy to navigate on the ground by mostly "staying right."
Trial and Error and Rock About are two loops stacked upon each other that are run in a counter clockwise direction. Trial and Error, the first half, is a fun technical, rocky trail that is mostly descending. It leads you out to a double track and you'll turn right off the double track onto Rock About.
Once on Rock About you go up 11 switchbacks. It's a great place to do intervals so they've been counted many, many times. There's a bit more climbing past the top of the 11th switchback but the primary direction is down along some beautiful rocky slopes, back to Trial and Error. As expected, these switchbacks are just past the half-way mark on the course.
The "last" half of Trial and Error is pretty lush, forested single track and it leads you right back to Magic Dragon. This next section of trail, Magic Dragon and Cliffside are some of the nicest you'll run if you like visual stimulation. There are huge big rocks to run through that tumbled down the mountain years ago and a beautiful viewpoint at Cliffside over the Columbia Wetlands. You'll see why they're so famous for birdwatching and SUP'ing!
Cliffside - the viewpoint - is a happy spot because it also means that the rest of the course is *mostly* downhill. There are a few short climbs but nothing of note.
At the bottom of Cliffside, proceed onto Chute the Duck and then take a right on to Selkirk Slacker. Here's you're 5 km from the finish line and you'll be running essentially the same trails you started on, but back to the finish line.
Check out the elevation profile and download the Google Earth file at http://www.goldenultra.com/the-tears/. If you're attempting a pre-run of this course, the Golden Cycling Club app or the trail maps produced by Tourism Golden will be infinitely helpful. Maps can be picked up for free at Bean Bag Coffee Roasters, the BC Visitors Centre, the Chamber of Commerce or any sport shop in Golden.
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.