Without further ado...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. It's tough work, but hey, somebody has to do it.
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 Golden Ultra.
Similar to the Sweat, runners will start at Spirit Square, but this time head across the historical timber-frame bridge over 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... more climbing. After you get past the ball diamonds you keep heading up "7-up" which is deceptively hard before you cross the Bowle-Evans FSR and hit "Bush Party" (yep, it's a party because it's flat) and "Berminator" (you can guess how fun this downhill is). Once you hit the bottom of Berminator you a couple kilometres of relative flat on Selkirk Slacker.
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, hang a lenny (left) on to the double track for about 400m until you hit the upper part of Snake Hill. This descends (yay) until you meet up with the Cruise (10 km) course at the Bridge Over Snake Hill. Enjoy the last bit of that descent because there's one more soul-crusher climb before you're really done.
At the bottom of Snake Hill you've got to climb up Rodeo Drive. It's not that steep or long, but it feels really mean at the end of the course. Once you've conquered Rodeo Drive you're back on the Rotary Trails and will soon pass the ball diamonds, descent to the campground and then run the glorious last 2 km along the Kicking Horse River to Spirit Square.
A few of you were probably quick to notice the quotation marks around "half marathon" - that's because we're throwing in a couple bonus KM for you on this last day to ring this in at 23 km. Who wants to leave Golden so soon? Tie up and enjoy!
Check out the elevation profile and download the .kml or .gpx at http://www.goldenultra.com/the-tears/. We also have lots of other navigation resources for you there!