Where: Cypress Provincial Park, West Vancouver, BC, Canada
Description: The Cypress Mountain Enduro Course Trail Race, which is considered the most challenging of the 5 Peaks Trail Race Series, covers 11 kilometers (7 miles) with 560 meters (1,837 feet) of elevation gain. It’s an out-and-back race with gorgeous mountain views at the turnaround point. If you’d like a gentler option, the Sports Course is a flattish 6 kilometers. There are also 1k and 3k courses for children.
Time: The fastest time for the 2015 race was 1:06:33; the slowest was 2:24:41.
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).
Difficulty: Some of the terrain was challenging for anyone new to trail racing. Certain spots were borderline scrambly and there were plenty of rocks and tree roots waiting to trip the unwary. The stretch where we started and ended the race was moderately steep and had a lot of loose rock, which made it easy to slide around (I saw a couple of wipeouts). There was also a bonus obstacle – a wasp’s nest. The fastest runners stirred them up, so by the time those in the middle arrived, they were quite angry and a number of people got stung (I was among the fortunate who made it through unscathed). Hopefully the wasp’s nest will be gone by next year! If you plan to do the Enduro course, I recommend doing some training on mountain trails beforehand and being cautious on the steeper downhill bits unless you have plenty of mountain trail running experience. The Sports Course is recommended for those who are new to trail running (this was only my second trail race – I went for the Enduro rather than the Sports Course, which wasn’t really a sensible choice, but I had fun).
Required Equipment: Running shoes with good traction, comfortable running clothes, sunglasses, sunscreen if you’re prone to burning; there were a couple of water stations on the way up the mountain and they provided cups (many 5 Peaks races don’t for environmental reasons). Given the physically demanding terrain and length of the course, I recommend bringing your own water as well.
- The cost of entry is less expensive than that of a marathon.
- The course provides plenty of wonderful forest and mountain scenery.
- You’ll get a great workout with all the elevation gain.
- There are bathrooms at the lodge at the start of the race.
- The event is very well-organized, with good trail markings and friendly volunteers directing in places where trails fork (from the reviews I’ve read, all of the 4 Peaks races tend to be well-organized).
- Free ice cream, pancakes and bacon, and other treats were available at the finish.
- There is plenty of parking near the starting line.
- Race photos are made available for free on Flickr.
- There are no dogs allowed on the course.
- You don’t get much swag with this one – no medals other than the top three finishers of each gender (overall and for each age category). Everyone else just gets a 5 Peaks glass and a couple of little promotional items.
- It’s a tight squeeze near the turnaround point as returning runners meet with those who haven’t yet reached the halfway mark – it can be challenging to pass people on the single-track trail.
- Don’t bring headphones or walking poles – they’re not allowed on the course.
- See the Cypress Mountain race page for more information.
For more great running events in BC, see the main Activities page.
*Conditions, routes, and prices may have changed since the time of this writing.