All photos: Bruno Long, Golden Ultra

B.C.’s Golden Ultra stage race, which takes place in Golden, B.C. September 21 to 23, is guaranteed to be one of the most challenging and rewarding trail racing experiences of the year, thanks in no small part to the gritty challenge that faces runners on Day 1–the Vertical K, also known as “The Blood.” 

The Blood is a 1,000m ascent in less than 5K of distance–and yes, there may well be blood. It will take everything you’ve got to get to the top, and there’s no enjoying the incredible views til you get there. Your laboured breathing and intense focus on the terrain below your feet will see to that. And if you think you’ll actually be running most of this route? Think again, my friend.

Started by local resident and “ultra badass” Magi Scallion four years ago, the course starts at the bottom of the Kicking Horse gondola and follows up a service road, quad track and a full kilometre of singletrack as you scramble steadily upwards.

The race starts at 4 p.m. Friday, and runners have two and a half hours to make it to the top before the cutoff. (What does it mean to not make the cutoff? No gondola ride back down–you’ll be hoofing it.) And, like at many mountain races, you may experience wide extremes of weather in a very short time, stripping off your outer layer at one point, and pulling on gloves a few minutes later.

Scroll over the dots for more on the vertical K course

Course records were broken by both men and women at last year’s event. Eric Carter made it to the top in a lung-busting 45:37, and Kelly Quinn in 55 minutes flat.

And just to keep things fun and accessible, Scallion created the “hobby horse” version of the race, in which entrants take on the course while riding–you guessed it–a hobby horse. 

Early bird pricing ends June 30, so waste no time in getting yourself registered for this fun and challenging event here