Even though I haven’t run more than 23 km on the trails in over a month (or anything more than a 10 km road run a few times a week, for that matter), Debbie and I decided to tackle part of the Finlayson Arm 25K race course (which is actually 28 km… why not just call it the Finlayson Arm 28K???) this Sunday just so we knew what to expect for the race coming up in two weeks. Even though we got some awesome written directions from race director Myke LaBelle, we still managed to get lost at least 10 times, including for about 10 minutes at the start trying to figure out if we were supposed to cross a river (if we had stopped to read Myke’s directions that said to cross east to west we could have saved ourselves running the route with soggy socks and shoes yesterday — turns out you just follow along one side of the river under the first tunnel, not cross to the other side… whoops).
The race route starts at the Goldstream camp ground group site and heads off along Prospectors Trail under the highway to the Arbutus Ridge Trail and Gold Miners Trail, a route we’ve done before to get to the Goldstream Trestle. From the trestle, you run straight down towards the highway and cross underneath to Goldstream Park.
Once back in Goldstream Park, we climbed the front side of Mt. Finlayson. This part will be interesting on race day, not only because it’s a straight-up scramble, but also because it’s a popular spot to hike on a Saturday and generally busy with tourists.
Once we hit the summit, we ran down the backside of Mt. Finlayson and carried on from Finalyson Arm Road and Roundtree Road to link up to the Ridge Top Trail in Gowlland Tod Park, another favourite running route.
Once we reached Caleb Pike at about the 12 km mark, we were already close to three hours in and made the decision to just run to Holmes Peak, another 1.3 km away, because it was taking us too long. We were both pretty gassed by this point, too, but could have made it the whole way I think.
Once we reached Holmes Peak (another decent climb), we turned around and (happily) ran back down to the backside of Mt. Finlayson.
From this point, the directions told us to take a left along a trail that would take us around the base of Mt. Finlayson to link back up with the main trail we climbed earlier and back to Prospectors Trail. We got lost again at this point, as the directions said to stay left… but there were a few side trails we ended up taking that took us right out on to the greens of the Bear Mountain Golf Course. Whoops!
We made it around eventually, and ran back down Mt. Finlayson and carried on along Prospectors Trail (which you access just before descending down to the trail entrance by shooting off to the left before the stairs) to the group site. This portion had a bit more climbs than I was hoping for, but wasn’t too bad.
We ended up running about 22 kms in 5 hours (but 4:36 moving time… clearly we lost some time by getting lost!). I predict I’ll finish the race in about 5.5-6 hours, as the climb to Jocelyn Hill is fairly challenging. Even though this race will be challenging, the effort will be worth it. There are so many cool spots and stunning vistas along the way, it’ll be hard NOT to stop and take photos.
For the Garmin route, go here.
What’s the toughest race you’ve ever done? Have you done a trail race before? Are you running this race? If so, let me know and say hi on race day!