Trail running season is coming to an end and one of the most unique races in British Columbia went off this past weekend.
The penultimate race as part of the Coast Mountain Trail Series, Sky Pilot, featured a 25K race with a 30m rappel, a variation of the standard 25K course in addition to the race’s 14K distance. (Rappelling is the act of descending down a rock face.) Sky Pilot, put on by Gary Robbins and Geoff Langford, takes place at the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish, B.C.
Not surprisingly, talented climber Nick Elson took on the 25K with rappel course and won by 80 minutes over second-place finisher Marian Treger. He clocked 2:37:34. (See his Strava statistics here.) In addition to 11 pieces of mandatory gear, 25K runners doing the rappel version of the course must carry a harness, helmet, two locking carabiners, one belay device and one sling.
The race is extremely challenging. Before registration, entrants must answer “yes” to eight questions, including “I am comfortable with being completely self-sufficient for up to five hours.”
The 25K with rappel features 1,850m of ascent and descent. The standalone 25K features 1,500m of elevation gain and loss and half of that for the 14K. According to the race website, all courses feature “stream crossings, steep terrain and a few sections where you’ll need to use ropes to assist you.”
Elson has had a strong 2017 campaign including a victory at North Vancouver, B.C.’s Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run and a third-place finish at the Broken Arrow Skyrace in eastern California. He’s a local in Squamish.
The last of the Coast Mountain Trail Series events is the Whistler Alpine Meadows 50, which closes out the circuit on Sept. 23.