Golden Ears Provincial Park. It's about one hour east of downtown Vancouver and -- at least on a map -- part of the city of Maple Ridge. The park is huge, also encompassing a large lake. I ran this course two years ago and it was cold that day, probably in the low 60s. Though this race day was expected to be hot, and it probably climbed into the mid-80s.
You can see course map below, and yes, the orange and red definitely show where I was struggling with the hills, pushing my heart rate to its max. In fact, the hill between miles 3.5 and 4.75 might have been almost 1000ft straight up!
This is basically the start and finish of the Golden Ears race. The first and last quarter mile are run along the lake shore, up the path in the foreground, and the start and finish is the parking lot at the end of the path. In the photo is Alouette Lake. I don't know the names of all of the mountains in the distance, but one of them in Mt. Clark. In that mountainous part of B.C. that you see way in the distance, there are no roads, just mountains. Just knowing that beyond there is the beauty of nature that has been untouched by freeways and modern conveniences is so soothing to the soul. Perhaps John Muir said it best:
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.
- Our National Parks, (1901), chapter 1, page 1.
Most racing organizations have a mascot and 5 Peaks, which manages the Golden Ears race, has their own: Buffy. I think Buffy was probably named in honor of the clothing company Buff Headwear because it's one of the 5 Peaks sponsors. The picture below shows the start of the Kids 1 km Race. What I love most about this photo is the reflection of the trees in Alouette Lake.
As usual, I brought my camera out on the course. This was the first of several stream crossings, though the water levels were low, so I was able to whip across the rocks with ease. In fact, I tore across the stream so fast that I didn't even see the photographer in the stream bed taking pictures of the runners. Once across the stream and up the stream bank, I turned around and snapped this photo.
The course is full of rolling hills and sweet single track. Since I knew I was going to be one of the last finishers, I didn't really worry when people passed me. In fact, when I knew they were getting close, I'd step off to the side of the trail and snap photos of them as they passed.
This is that one monster of a hill. It went on for quite a while. Not the most painful hill I've ever encountered -- this race will never be as painful as the Double Dipsea or Brazen Racing's Rocky Ridge Half Marathon -- but it was still a struggle to climb up it. I definitely walked this portion until the very top.
One of the more amazing sights on this course is the waterfall. Two years ago, it was really gushing and the resulting stream that we had to pass through went halfway up my calf, but this time around it was a steady trickle. Hopefully, this doesn't portend drought-like conditions for British Columbia. I'd hate to see a lot of brown in the Pacific Northwest; I see enough of it here in California.
And the finish line!
It was pretty festive at the finish. Sports massages were being offered, and various vendors from Altra running shoes to De Dutch Panenkoek were on site. De Dutch, which is a chain of restaurants, served up a postrace breakfast for everyone.
Of all the trail races I've done, this has to be the one with the most scenic and awe-inspiring view at the start and finish. If I were to run Golden Ears again though, I'd do it outside of the racing venue, only because it would give me more freedom to explore the area. There are trails galore all throughout the park and it would be nice to just spend an entire day there trail running.
Gear used: Fuji X-T1, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens for the start and finish line photos, and the 35mm f/2 prime lens while out on the course.