While it may be difficult for the average person to comprehend why anyone would want to run a 50 or 100 kilometre ultra-marathon, there is actually quite a large group of people who do just that.
Brian Gallant of the Full Moon Adventure Company, who is bringing the Black Spur Ultra to Kimberley this August, says his Crows Nest race, the Sinister 7 Ultra, regularly draws 1400 participants.
Kimberley’s first ultra-marathon will be smaller than that, with the aim to build it each year, Gallant says.
“We’re looking at 200 racers this year,” he said. “That’s our goal.”
The race is already approaching that number of registered racers, so Gallant is optimistic that the inaugural event on August 21 and 22 will be successful.
“We will promote it at our Crows Nest event, use it as a spring board. The goal is to grow the event to about 800 racers — that’s good and busy but sustainable. We want to work with the community to make it positive for Kimberley.
“We’re excited to have so many participants in our inaugural year. I think it speaks to the reputation that the area has for natural beauty and rugged terrain; the perfect combination for an epic mountain ultra”.
Gallant looked long and hard for a site for another ultra-marathon, he says.
“I researched Nelson to Regina to Edmonton and beyond. But Kimberley really stood out. Not only does it have world class facilities and great trails, but it has great, friendly people. That’s what a our competitors are looking for. Having an event in a community as welcoming as Kimberley is important to our racers.”
“Full Moon Adventure Company has an excellent reputation and we are excited Kimberley was selected as the location of the Black Spur Ultra this summer,” said Kevin Wilson, Kimberley Director of Economic Development. “Assuming most of the participants are from out of town and bring at least one supporter, I expect this event to inject well over $150,000 into the local economy.”
The race route has three loops, 15.9 k around North Star Hill, 17.4 k out to Horse Barn Valley and the 17.7 k Myrtle Mountain route. The 100 k runners will run each route twice. 50 K runners have 12 hours to finish and 100 K, 24 hours.
A race that grueling requires special attention to medical concerns and Gallant says he will be bringing in his own team of EMTs and paramedics, who have worked with him on other races.
“They are specially trained in backcountry emergency and emergency response,” he said. “We have lots of aid and water stations along the course.”
Gallant says that most runners would say about 22 degrees is ideal race weather but he is aware that it may be much hotter than that in Kimberley.
“That’s just part of race conditions. High heat is just one of the factors to contend with.”
FMAC continues to work with local stakeholders, and the province, in developing the race. In addition to advocating a “Leave No Trace” policy during the event, FMAC will make a monetary donation to the Kimberley Nature Park Society for the purposes of local trail development and maintenance.
“Maintaining the natural beauty that attracts our racers to these venues is one of our highest priorities, and we do this by supporting groups whenever we can,” said Gallant.
Local volunteers are required for the race as well and you can sign up at www.blackspurultra.com. You can also register for the race at the same site.