(By Jennifer Copley, Last Updated 12 May 2016)
Where: Golden Ears Provincial Park, near Maple Ridge, British Columbia
Description: Golden Ears is a race in the 5 Peaks annual trail racing series. There are two race options for adults – the 13 kilometer/8 mile Enduro Course and the 8.5 kilometer/5 mile Sports Course, as well as 1 kilometer and 3 kilometer children’s races. The courses take runners along beautiful forest trails, with gorgeous scenery throughout. I did the 2016 Enduro course, which included the Alouette Valley, Incline, Eric Dunning, and Lookout trails (the Sports Course omitted Eric Dunning and Incline).
Cost: $45 for early bird registration; $55 closer to the race date (if you’d like to do more trail races, you can save money by purchasing a 5 Peaks Season Pass).
Time: Times are quite variable, depending on ability and trail running experience. Times for the 2016 Enduro Course ranged from 1:01:45 to 2:23:04, and for the Sports Course from 35:24 to 2:03:51.
Difficulty: Trails for the adult races included both easy smooth double-track and moderately technical single-track, with a some tricky rocky areas and a couple of little streams to cross. There was one very long, steep hill on the course where many racers ended up walking at least part of the way, followed by a long, steep downhill stretch with lots of loose rock (treacherous to the ankles). Elevation gain was 550 meters/1804 feet for the Enduro course and 324 meters/1,062 feet for the Sports Course.
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, which provided water but no food)
- The 5 Peaks races are all well-organized and the courses well marked.
- There were plenty of wonderful volunteers, the other racers were friendly, and the event was loads of fun.
- The scenery was spectacular, both at the park where the race started and along the trails.
- The cost of entry was far cheaper than that of a half marathon.
- Volunteers served pancakes and other snacks at the finish.
- As with all the 5 Peaks races, race photos were made available for free to share on social media.
- Given the relatively low cost of the 5 Peaks races, you don’t get much swag, though everybody did receive a good quality buff, and there were medals for the top 3 finishers in each division.
- Much of the elevation was compressed into a relatively small area on this course, so there was one long killer hill and then a steep downhill stretch with lots of loose rock (I noticed more people in the medical tent getting their ankles bandaged at the end of the race than usual). Of course, this could be considered a pro if you’re looking for a big cardio challenge.
- Don’t bring headphones or walking poles – for safety reasons, you’re not allowed to use them on the courses.
- There are no dogs allowed on the trails, but they are allowed in the park where the race starts so you can bring your canine companions if you have someone to watch over them while you race.
- For more information about the Golden Ears race and the 5 Peaks race series overall, see the Golden Ears 5 Peaks 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.