(By Jennifer Copley, Last Updated 14 October 2016)
Where: Buntzen Lake, Anmore, British Columbia, Canada
Description: The Buntzen Lake race is part of the annual 5 Peaks trail racing series. There are two race options for adults – the 15-16 kilometer/9-10 mile Enduro Course and the 10 kilometer/6 mile Sport Course, as well as 1 kilometer and 3 kilometer children’s races.
The 2016 Enduro Course (which was the race I did) began with the Energy Trail, followed by the Diez Vistas trail, which runs up a mini mountain (informally called Sugar Mountain), providing some spectacular open views of the Nort
h Shore and Burrard Inlet along the way. This trail is very steep and technical, with plenty of roots and rocks. We came back to the finish line via the gently undulating Bunzten Lake Trail, which runs along the side of the lake. I came across a bear on this trail, which would have been scarier if he hadn’t been trying to run away from the swarm of runners and hikers who had suddenly converged in the area. The Sport Course skips the major elevation and technical terrain, sticking to the easier lakeside trails.
Cost: $45-$55 for either the Sport or Enduro Course, depending on how early you register (earlier registration is cheaper)
Time: Completion times are quite variable, depending on ability and trail running experience. Times for the 2016 Buntzen Enduro Course ranged from 1:19 to 3:29 and times for the Sport Course ranged from 0:49 to 2:03.
Difficulty: The Enduro Course trails were quite technical and challenging, with lots of elevation gain in the first half followed by steep downhill, though the final third of the course was run over easier trails.
Required Equipment: Good trail running shoes, water and carb gels or other snacks in case of an energy crash (there was only one aid station along the course at around the 10k mark); water reservoir, bottle, or collapsible cup (5 Peaks events are now cup-free)
- As with all the 5 Peaks races, there were plenty of wonderful volunteers, the other racers were friendly, and the event was loads of fun.
- The scenery was fantastic, both at the lake where the race started and along the trails.
- The cost of entry was cheaper than that of a half marathon, but the workout was just as intense due to the terrain and elevation.
- Snacks and water were provided at the start/finish area.
- 5 Peaks race photos were made available for free to share on social media.
- Runners were given a Distance Runwear gear bag and a choice of one item from the other 5 Peaks swag, with options including a collapsible cup, arm warmers, buff, mug, and glass.
- Insufficient flagging in some areas led to confusion; at one point, four of us got lost for about 10 minutes trying to find a small course flag hidden behind a bush; this flag marked an easy-to-miss trail fork in an open area. There were a few other spots where I had to search for course markings that were not easy to spot.
- There was only one aid station, likely due to logistical barriers in setting something up on the mini-mountain, so runners needed to carry plenty of water up the big hill or risk dehydration.
- Register early. The 5 Peaks races have become very popular, so they sell out quickly.
- Don’t bring headphones or walking poles – for safety reasons, you’re not allowed to use them on the courses.
- There isn’t a lot of parking in the area; plan to carpool.
- The 5 Peaks events have gone cup-free for environmental reasons; bring your own water reservoir, bottle, or collapsible cup.
- There are no dogs allowed on the trails or at the start-finish area for this race. Anyone who brings a dog to the Buntzen race area will be asked to leave.
- For more information about the Buntzen Lake race and the 5 Peaks race series overall, see the 5 Peaks Race page.
For information about more great running events and hikes in BC, see the main Activities page.
*Conditions, routes, and prices may have changed since the time of this writing.