Location: Blackcomb Mountain ♦ Distance: 10.6km ♦ Elevation: 654m
I am sure trail runners or hikers alike have their opinions on the use of gondolas, and for this event I fully support taking a gondola to the top for a race! Actually, after the first one go ahead and take a second one. The peak-to-peak gondola took us from Whistler right over to the top of Blackcomb and we got to start the race on the top of the mountain! This makes for an interesting commute to the race and enables runners of all levels to run on top of the world, including those 1km child-speedsters.
The weather was perfect. The race started at 11am instead of the usual 9am start, which made for warm race up where it can be pretty chilly.
This course features mainly single track with a 1km wide gravel road into the finish line. Though most courses with 5 peaks are on single track this course had long sections where it was much more difficult to pass, due to the brush on the side of the trail and large rocks forming parts of the trail. If I were to do this race again (and I will!) I would have went out in the first heat rather than the second, since it was challenging to pass and got back logged in a few sections. The Sport and Enduro courses started together and split off part way, but some of the back log was just from heavy traffic on the trails. Small heats were helpful, but I definitely noticed the challenge of being patient and waiting for a good time to pass or choosing a safe time to step aside and let others by as well.
This race featured some amazing views (as shown above). In the enduro course we race along a beautiful trail that overlooked the many mountains off in the distance and then climbed a ridge up past an alpine lake. The climb and extra distance of the enduro course were well worth it.
This course was fun, quite quick once it spread out, and beautiful! In the end I placed 1st for females in the Enduro course.
We were very fortunate to have summer weather, especially compared to the previous year where it was an insane winter-like storm. Though I am glad it was warm it is always important to remember the drastic weather changes that can be encountered in the alpine, and be prepared. A warm layer, wind/rain jacket, gloves and a toque can make a huge difference. Seeing as this year was the opposite of last year I’d suggest being prepared for anything in the 2017 season.