There are so many things to look forward to every year at the Golden Ultra – a grueling vertical km race, a beautiful but challenging 60 km ultra on Day 2 and a rolling 22 km on Day 3. Wait a sec, did we say a vertical km?
You bet we did.
The International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) defines a vertical km race as one having at least a 1000 m vertical climb, variable terrain, with a substantial incline not exceeding 5 km in length. Basically, as steep a climb and as much elevation gain as possible in 5 km or less.
The vertical km racing scene has been gaining popularity over the last decade, most notably in the Alps but also throughout other parts of Europe and now North America too. Similar to fell racing, VK courses can be a variety of terrains from grassy slopes (like at Le Grand Serre in France) to rocky or stepped inclines (as in Chiavenna-Legunc, Italy) or even abandoned funicular tracks like at the prestigious Fully VK in Switzerland. In the US and Canada, other VK races are held in Quebec, New York, Montana, Arizona and North Carolina.
So what is our VK like? Runners will get about a km of uphill to ‘warm up’ before the real climbing starts (nice of us, huh?). Then, following a course connecting various alpine ski runs and following the steep chairlift paths before eventually hitting the final stretch of straight uphill single track trail, runners will make their way to the summit.
Just over 1000 m in 5 km. Ouch. The pay off for this grueling uphill climb will be the amazing 360 degree views waiting for runners at the top.
... not ready for the full VK? We added a 3 km/700m vertical option called "the Climb" in 2016. This bad boy is still bad, but getting better. You get to skip the "warm up" and just go straight into the biznass. The steepest part of the hill and the most beautiful part to finish it off and numb the pain.
How long does the VK take? That all depends on how well your legs and lungs cooperate! No doubt, running the ‘The Blood’ or "The Climb" is going to require great strength and intense determination to keep your legs moving, lungs pumping and your pace up. Undoubtedly, walking or power hiking is pretty common on VK courses but more than anything, staying focused and finding your own rhythm will be what gets you to the top.
The vertical km can be run as a stand alone event or as part of the 3-day, multi event weekend - looking forward to seeing you at the start of the Blood & Climb races this fall!