(By Jennifer Copley, Last Updated 6 April 2016)
Where: North Vancouver, BC, Canada
Description: There are two Cap Crusher race options, 8 kilometers/5 miles and 13 kilometers/8 miles, both running through beautiful, hilly forest trails. The scenery was so gorgeous on this one that I was never bored. The 13k course was a crazy, twisty-turny maze, and I fully expected to get lost after viewing the course map. The organizers sent an e-mail prior to the race saying that anyone who got lost and felt it was due to poor organization could claim a free race. My first thought was, challenge accepted, because I could get lost in a closet. But they had volunteers everywhere and bright pink flags marking the trails at such short intervals that it was impossible to wander off course. Overall, I was very impressed with the organization, and will definitely do more Coast Mountain Trail Series races in the future.
Cost: The price for the 8k ranges from $35 to $65 and the 13k from $45 to $75, depending on how early you register. The highest prices are for registration on race day, the best prices are for early bird registration, and there are intermediate prices in the months leading up to the race.
Time: Times were quite variable for both races. For the 13k, the fastest time was 1:02, the slowest finisher came in at 2:40, and 104 of the 115 participants completed the race overall. The fastest time for the 8k was just under 43 minutes, the slowest was 1:35, and 80 of the 96 participants completed the race.
Difficulty: The Cap Crusher races are considered quite challenging. The 8k includes 500 meters/1,650 feet of elevation gain, and the 13k has 650 meters/2,100 feet of elevation gain. The trails are quite easy to run – there are no significant technical challenges (i.e., scrambling), just a lot of hills and flights of stairs, but the race is demanding from a cardio fitness standpoint, given the amount of ascension. I did the 13k, which I found significantly more tiring than a 13k road run.
Required Equipment: Trail running shoes are ideal, but the terrain on this course is not very technical, so regular running shoes are sufficient. Bringing your own water is recommended, as there was only one aid station along the way. Carrying a snack or energy gel is a good idea as well – there were snacks at the end, but this race burns a lot of calories, so it’s smart to bring something to eat along the way just in case you suffer an energy crash.
- The race was very well-organized, and the volunteers were wonderful. They stood at every trail intersection to direct us, and when a brief power outage caused the inflatable finish line arch to temporarily deflate, volunteers held it up so that we could cross under it.
- The atmosphere was enthusiastic and positive – volunteers and participants were friendly and laid back, and everyone seemed to be having lots of fun, despite the intermittent rain.
- The trail network runs through beautiful forest, water, and mountain scenery.
- They gave us cupcakes at the end – I’m not sure if this is a regular thing, but I hope it catches on because I’d much rather receive a cupcake than a medal.
- This race is about half the price of a half marathon.
- Given the low cost, you don’t get any swag or medals just for finishing this one.
- There are a LOT of stairs on this course (you might consider this a pro rather than a con if you want a really intense workout).
- There aren’t as many aid stations and snacks as you get with the more expensive races.
- Get there early – parking fills up fast.
- The Coast Mountain Trail Series races are getting more popular – I wanted to sign up for another of them, but it was already full within a week of the race – so I recommend signing up early to make sure that you get in.
- For more information and photos of the race and the gorgeous scenery, visit the Cap Crusher Race page.
For more races and other fun activities in and around Vancouver, visit the main Activities page.
*Prices and conditions may have changed since the time of this writing.