Running

8 Golden Ultra Training Tips

We asked popular coach and running streaker, Derrick Spafford, for some Golden Ultra training tips.  You won't believe what happened next...  (we got some great advice!).

1. Train Hard

To successfully complete any race in the Golden Ultra weekend of races, you need to commit to training hard, consistently and smart. The distances and terrain at the Golden Ultra are challenging, so regular training averaging five times per week of running and cross training over the final few months are key. Gradually lengthening your long runs to the three to four hour range should be enough to prepare most runners to complete their chosen races.

2. Do your Hill Training

Hill training is the most important form of training that you can do to prepare for the Golden Ultra. Getting comfortable running (and hiking) uphill and downhill is vital. Alternate between hills that are long and gradual and those that are shorter and steeper. If you don’t have access to hills or mountains, be sure to hit the incline on a treadmill as a substitute. With the highest point of the course cresting over 2,400 meters, the altitude will also pose a challenge. If you don’t live at altitude, making sure that you regularly run intense anaerobic hill repeats in training will help to prepare you for what you will be experiencing at the higher elevations on the course.

3. Try Back-to-Back Long Runs

If you are running two or three of the Golden Ultra races, you’ll want to add some back-to-back longer runs in the final 6-8 weeks before the race. A typical example would be a three hour hilly run on the first day, followed by another two hour hilly run the following day. This is a great way to get your body used to running while already fatigued. Make sure that you recover well with additional rest days and light running days after B2B runs for several days before your next hard session or long run.

4. Engage Cross Training

Add additional specific types of cardio cross training (Elliptical, Mountain Biking, Stair Master, Stepmill) to your training week to boost your climbing fitness. Adding one to two days of specific cross training weekly will allow you to increase your volume without the risks of adding more running days, and with the benefit of working different muscles that will come in handy with all the climbing.

5. Add some Strength Training

A strong core, in addition to strong legs, is important for helping you to power up the climbs and stabilizing on the descents. Basic core exercises such as planks, abdominal crunches, and other stability exercises should be performed two to three times per week.

Additional leg exercises such as walking lunges, single leg squats, calf raises, and some bounding drills are also helpful for your climbing and descending muscles and to prevent you from overloading these muscle groups on race day.

6. Plan and Test your Race Day Nutrition

Stay on top of fuelling, hydration and electrolytes early and often during the race to ensure you’re well fuelled throughout each day. Be sure to get a moderate amount of carbs and protein into you asap after each stage to aid in recovery, especially if you’re doing multiple races over consecutive days.

7. Practise Mountain Running Form

Shorten your stride and maintain your stride turnover rate and effort on uphills. Run tall, don’t lean excessively forward at the waist. Hike any uphills necessary to maintain the same effort or heart rate. For downhills, make sure you relax and run with quick steps. Don’t brake or overstride, run with the momentum of the hill. Look ahead and pick your line through any technical sections.

8. Test your Gear

Don’t make a rookie mistake and try out new gear on race day. Be sure you wear the shoes and other gear that you have tried in long training runs to ensure that everything works well for you. Make sure you choose the footwear that gives you the traction and protection that you need for the conditions of the race. Trekking poles can provide a big help in climbing and descending; if you plan to use them on race day, be sure to get lots of practice with them in training.


Derrick Spafford has over 30 years of competitive running and coaching experience. He has competed in hundreds of races in distances from 800 meters to 100 miles; from track to ultramarathons. While he enjoys competing in a variety of different events, his current favourite races include trail, mountain, ultra and snowshoe running races.  For more information on Derrick's personal coaching services, please visit: www.healthandadventure.com

The Golden Ultra is a three-day stage running race (or relay) in Golden, BC, Canada.  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.

On Treadmills and Trails: Meet RunEMZ

We are so excited to bring such a diverse group of runners to Golden through our scholarship program and the next winner we want to introduce you to is Emily, or RunEMZ as you may already know her.

RunEMZ is a legitimate running superstar, not in the least because of the milage she logs on a treadmill.  Here's our quick discussion with her about her motivation, running and training for the Golden Ultra.

Tell us a bit about how you got into running…

An ankle injury cut my volleyball career short at a time when I was soaring. It was a devastating injury that left me without a physical passion. I had run a little but mostly only as a part of training for volleyball.  After the injury, I began running, mostly to just stay fit however, I found that each day I craved it more and more. 

I ran my first marathon in 1999 [unknowingly pregnant] where I finished with a time of 4:16. Although I continued to run over the next nine and a half years, I did not run another marathon until December of 2009, finishing in 3:36. This time qualified me for the Boston Marathon, which I ran April 18, 2011.  Once I had completed that second marathon, I knew this running thing was for me! 

How did you enter the ultra marathon world?

I had a friend at my husband's work say, "Okay so we know you can do marathons but why don't you try running a 50 miler?" I couldn't say no. I completed my first ultra in October of 2011. From there the desire to see just how far I could go kept growing. 

We’ve heard you really enjoy challenging yourself with treadmill running?  How did that begin and how often do you run on the treadmill compared to outside?  What drives you challenge yourself in this way?

I began treadmill running in August 2009.  Originally, I began it because my doctor had advised that that would be easier on my joints. I found that it did not annoy, bother or bore me the way it seemed to do so for others. In fact, it was quite the opposite I absolutely loved it. I do 99.9% of my training on my treadmill. For example this past month I ran 330 miles and only 27 of them were outside. Those 27 miles were due to a race-outside. ;) I just love the treadmill. It is just what works for me. 

Do you think treadmill running provides you with an advantage or a disadvantage going into The Golden Ultra?

I'm sure my treadmill running will be an advantage and a disadvantage. I find a huge advantage and the fact that when I get outside time just seems to fly by and I am so focused on the beauty around me that I typically don't see just looking out my sliding door at home. I make sure that my training includes a lot of hill workouts, so I don't think I will be at too much of a disadvantage in this regard. I have completed two trail 100 milers and felt pretty dang good throughout them. 

Tell us about your local running scene.  Where do you most enjoy training, and what will you be taking advantage of to train for the Golden Ultra?

My local running scene is full of a bunch of incredible runners. However, due to my treadmill training I usually only hang out with these individuals before, during and after races. 

Which aspect of our 3 day race scares you the most?  What are you most excited for?  Do you foresee any big challenges going into this unique race format?

I think the tears portion of the race is what scares me the most. I mean the word kind of scares me just reading it. I think when you combine the two days before it...it is probably exactly what will happen out there. But I'm super excited about it. The big challenge with this race will be to do the proper recovery each night leading into the next day’s race. Rest, refueling and recovery will be key. 

You can follow Emily during her training for the Golden Ultra and her other events this year on social media at:

Twitter: @RunEMZ
Instagram: @RunEMZ

The Golden Ultra is a three-day stage running race (or relay) in Golden, BC, Canada.  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.

Volunteers - We Can't Run Without Them

Volunteering is better with friends!

Volunteering is better with friends!

Volunteers!  We love them!  Events simply would not happen without a huge number of volunteers putting out a helping hand.  Just like most events, the Golden Ultra is also in need of some super stars to help us bring all the runners home safely with giant smiles on their faces.

There are lots of volunteering opportunities and we encourage you to select something that interests you.  The more detail you provide on your sign-up form, the better!  The volunteer sign-up form is now online (or click "volunteer" under the Details menu). 

Here are a few of our critical and very interesting roles:

Aid Station - if you have a group of 5 or more people (and a vehicle) you can qualify to host one of our aid stations!  We will provide you with all of the required supplies, a $150 donation to a charity of your choice, and a small budget to get some more food, costumes or bling to really make your zone memorable.

Course Marshal - Course marshals are a critical part of our safety plan.  We need singles or pairs to stand on course to assist in directing runners in the right direction, recording runner numbers & times for our timing and safety program, and cheering.  If you've got some knowledge of the Golden trails (or are good with maps) this could be a great role for you.  It's also fantastic for somebody who can only volunteer for a partial day.

Course Crew - You like to combine your volunteering with exercise?  Well... have we got a role for you.  We need some keeners to help with marking and cleaning up the course.  You get to do it all (on foot or bike) and you get some swag in return!

Finish Line - Ideal for the person who likes to get sweaty hugs and be on the front line of celebrating huge achievements.  We need a few superstars to welcome runners to the finish, make sure they get some nutrition, refreshment and their finisher award.

Registration & Information - If clerical duties at a high rate of efficiency and cheer is your forte, we'd love to have you on our registration and information team.  You'll be the front line of of answering questions, providing information and handing out bibs, swag and smiles.

The Golden Ultra is a three-day stage running race (or relay) in Golden, BC, Canada.  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.

Make your Golden Ultra Moves Count with Suunto

The training partner of choice for most trail runners has joined the Golden Ultra sponsorship pool for the next three years.  Suunto, the GPS watch manufacturer from Finland, will be helping Golden Ultra runners train and share their successes via MovesCount.

"What do I like about my Suunto watch?  It's difficult to itemize the entire list, but the battery life is unbeatable and the Moves Count interface (and Strava link) is pretty cool.  I love my "beers earned" app, especially on the hot and sunny running days." shares Golden runner, Roger Smith.  "On a more serious note, the cadence feature on the Ambit 2R is really useful for my intensity workouts."

Golden Ultra organizers will be using Suunto’s Ambit 2R to map, measure and detail all three of the Golden Ultra stages.  Watch for links to the Moves Count moves online and download the moves to your watch for easy navigation on your training runs. 

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.

Healthy Eating: How Much Sugar is too Much Sugar?

Katie Mazzia

Katie Mazzia

This is the first article in a multi-part series about athlete nutrition and eating for performance.  These articles are written by Katie Mazzia, Clinical Dietician and Diabetes Educator at the Vail Valley Medical Centre in Colorado.  Katie is part of the Golden Ultra family and a fantastic runner herself.  As a multiple time podium finisher at the TransRockies Run, she knows a thing or two about healthy eating as an athlete!

How much sugar is too much sugar?

Sugars are carbohydrates. Whether its natural sugar, like molasses or honey, or processed sugar, like cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, too much is harmful for your health and training. On average, Americans consume more than 22 teaspoons of added sugar each day or about 140 pounds in one year!

Simple sugar during exercise is okay!

  • Simple sugars such as glucose, fructose, cane sugar/syrup are the most important energy source during endurance activity. Studies suggest a combination of these sugars can increase absorption 40% faster than just one type.
  • Maltodextrin is “technically” a complex carbohydrate although breaks down fast and is often found in sports gels or other sports nutrition products.
  • Aim for a minimum of 25gm carbohydrate per hour if exercising > 60 minutes.
  • Quick energy ideas: Clif Shots or Bloks, Honey Stinger Chews, 2T. Raisins, Skratch or Tailwind sports drinks.

Too many simple sugars are not okay!

  • Excess added sugar in your diet increases your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
  • Limit added sugars to 25 grams a day for females (100 calories) or 37 grams per day for males (150 calories).
  • Added sugars are on the Nutrition Facts label are under “Total Carbohydrate-Sugar”.
  • Limit your juice intake to 8 oz. per day.
  • Remember fruits and plain milk have NATURAL sugars and this is not counted as “added” sugar. 

What does 100 calories of added sugar look like? ½ ounce dark chocolate (10gm), cereal (10gm), 1 tsp. brown sugar (4gm).  20 oz. Vitamin Water=31 grams added sugars. Starbucks flavoring (2 pumps) =10gm added sugars.

Stay tuned for more healthy eating tips to get you ready for event day!

Katie Mazzia on the top step of the podium at TransRockies Run

Katie Mazzia on the top step of the podium at TransRockies Run

The Golden Ultra is a three-day stage running race (or relay) in Golden, BC, Canada.  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.

Salomon Joins Golden Ultra Team

Salomon, the leading trail running shoe in Canada and the footwear of choice of top trail runners worldwide, has selected the Golden Ultra to be one of their keystone Canadian events in 2015. 

As presenting sponsor of the 55 km SkyRunner Ultramarathon Sweat stage, Salomon will have a heavy presence at the Golden Ultra.  From inviting top runners to setting up in style with a full demo fleet, Salomon Canada representatives will be romancing runners with a flourish.

“We’re very excited to have the opportunity to be a presenting sponsor for the Golden Ultra,” says Canadian Marketing Director, Phil Villeneuve.  “Even in its first year, the Golden Ultra is already one of Canada’s most exciting trail running events so we’re really lucky to have signed a three year agreement with the event.”

“It’s been our mission to align with companies that share our passion for professional, high quality products and events.  We are very happy to have a company like Salomon affiliated with the Golden Ultra, especially as a presenting sponsor,” commented Golden Ultra Race Director, Magi Scallion.  “Salomon’s presence at the event will help bring it to the ‘next level’.”

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.