The Black Spur Ultra

Ultra marathon racing in Kimberley

Another successful Black Spur Ultra has come and gone in Kimberley. Race founder Brian Gallant says the race went very well and the volunteers were terrific.

Hundreds of competitors tackled 54 and 108 kilometre ultra marathons with Michael Moore of Fernie clocking in first on the 108 K with a time of 14 hours, 18 minutes, 51 seconds. Charlotte Brockton of Saskatoon was the first woman in with a time of 17 hours, 53 minutes and 31 seconds. Dave Stevens of Kimberley was the fastest on the 54 K solo run with a time of 5:27:16 with Lisa Whitwell of Panorama in with a time of 6:30:10.

It takes a special kind of person to even want to try an ultra marathon. Perhaps the best way to understand is to read the words of a competitor’s blog. The following was written by “Canadian Ghost Runner” aka Joshua Slykhuis, who came second in the 108 K.

“I arrived on the Friday early for check-in. I won’t be surprised if the price of registration next year is a license plate, and a pair of socks. Did I mention this course is insane (or required someone insane to come up with it)?

“Leg 1. After a few clicks on the road, we begin the grunt up the ski hill. I live for this. I hate running, and this is a welcome break. We get to the top, only to go partway down again, then climb back up to the top (just in case your spirit wasn’t broken by the first climb)…. There are roots, rocks, and trees carefully littered across the path to trip us up and thin the herd a bit.

“Leg 2. I make sure to eat a few hundred calories, as I head out once again, up the cursed ski hill. Did I mention, we pay to do this? Finally there is a 300m flat section before we begin climbing the mountain on switchbacks. At the top, we are once again greeted with more roots and rocks. This is starting to hurt the bottoms of my feet. Luckily for me, we get to run some pristine downhill switchbacks, with only a few tripping hazards before coming into the aid station.

I barrel out of the second aid station, and am running like a madman, high on whatever goodies were in the water on aid station two. A few quick climbs, and we get to once again descend the ski hill to finish leg 2. Anyone know why they aren’t using the ski lift for this? It would make life much easier, just sayin’.

“Leg 3. We climb the bloody ski hill again. Leg three is super easy though. Its a 20K cross country run. A few climbs, a few descents. Pristine trail. Or so I thought. At this point my body hates me. I have zero energy, but have to keep running. There is a short climb, then basically a run all the way down to the aid station. There is a glorious stretch of ‘road’ right before the aid station, downhill grade super runnable, and long. I’m sick of running, so luckily after the aid station Laz (Brian Gallant) has us climbing the last 9K. He’s a great guy. Legs finally rested, I crest the top of the last climb, and end up on the cross country running trails. The chair lift still isn’t working, so I run down the cursed ski hill again, and leg 3 is done.

“Leg 4. We get to repeat leg 1. Leg 1 was very enjoyable the first time. In the 6 hours since I was last on it, the race director’s minion must have watered the roots, and turned up a few more rocks. I find all of them.

“Leg 5. Still burning daylight, and feeling pretty good vibes, I head out on 5. I’m practically dancing as I get to the aid station on 5, where there is some kind of rave going on. These are my kind of people! I was feeling pretty lit going into the aid station, I’m on fire leaving it (the DJ at the aid station is on point, what kind of aid stations have DJ’s??)

“Leg 6. This course has beat me up, wrecked my ankles with rocks and roots, challenged who I am at a personal level, and just been tough, but I am stoked to be on the last leg, and act accordingly. I am a running fool. Aside from the hellish climb up the ski hill for the 6th time, I run all the way to the aid station, only needing my headlamp for the glorious stretch of ‘road’ leading into it.

“You need to run this race. It is by far my favorite, as the course is technical, difficult, and generally awesome. The Alpine resort in Kimberley in probably the best spot in the world to host an ultra marathon.”

carolyn.grant@kimberleybulletin.com

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