Classic races in BC such as the BMO Vancouver Marathon, SeaWheeze Half Marathon, GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon, and the Whistler Half Marathon draw big crowds. Here are a few more races you might not know about—held in iconic destinations—for all you marathon chasers, mountain bikers, trail runners, and cyclists to tackle in British Columbia.
This isn’t your typical mountain-bike race. Pemberton’s Nimby Fifty is a 37-km (23-mi) technical cross-country marathon. The 101 switchback climb will pump your lungs and the single-track descents will keep you in line. Just 25 minutes north of Whistler by car, Pemberton is a mountain biking mecca and the trails are often the first to be free from snow come spring. North Arm Farm hosts the after-party, with live music from BC’s one-man funk band, Papa Josh.
This half marathon follows Ucluelet’s iconic oceanside trail. Pace yourself along the Wild Pacific Trail as you skirt the edge of the rainforest, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. For gentler runners, there is an individual 10-km (6.2-mi) option that follows the scenic Lighhouse Loop. All races begin and end in Ucluelet’s charming town centre.
Ride, camp, and party—all in 24 hours. This cross-country mountain-bike race starts and finishes in BC’s Rocky Mountain town of Golden. Held over the longest days of the years, this epic ride requires bikers to loop the Mountain Shadows trail system for 24 hours. You can ride solo or as a team, and the rider (or team) that completes the most laps in 24 hours prevails. If that sounds nuts to you, there is also an eight-hour option, which is arguably just as mad.
One of the best parts about this Granfondo is that it’s paired with wine. You can also ride it casually or as a race. Cycle past scenic vineyards, rolling hills, and idyllic lakes on this fully supported and traffic-controlled ride. This Penticton event has 160-, 126-, 55-, and 92-km options, which means you can pick your ideal ride-to-wine ratio.
They call this the marathon at the edge of the world and the claim has merit. After all, Haida Gwaii is as far west as you can go in BC. This out-and-back race starts and finishes at the Kaay Haida Heritage Centre, surrounded by traditional Haida totem poles. The race journeys through the historic village of Skidegate and past St. Mary’s Spring; local legend has it that if you drink from it, you will return to Haida Gwaii. For runners with their eyes on the prize, this is also a Boston Marathon qualifier.
Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the Peach Classic in Penticton will have you swimming in the warm waters of Okanagan Lake, biking to picturesque Naramata, and running along the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. There are sprint and standard distance options this summer to celebrate the triathlon’s milestone year.
Have you ever wanted to run through a UNESCO Global Geopark? This race will have you pacing yourself along impressive single-track, up Mount Babcock, and beside unusual rock formations in the Boulder Gardens. Take in the views as you tackle this 20-km (12.4-mi) race through British Columbia’s first and only Global Geopark. The 2017 race sold out in 17 hours, so keep your eye on registration for April 2018.
Would you run for wine? This half marathon is as much about food, wine, music, and fun as it is about the run. Wind your way through Kelowna’s sprawling wine region, along country roads, and waterfront parks. The race starts at The Vibrant Vine and finishes at Kelowna’s Waterfront Park with wine, goodie bags, and musical entertainment.
This may very well be the ultimate BC bucket-list race. This 50-km (31-mi) ultramarathon follows Canada’s famous Berg Lake Trail. Starting at the Mount Robson Visitor Centre, this out-and-back route goes to the foot of Mount Robson—the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies—and the edge of turquoise Berg Lake. There is a half marathon, 12-km (7.4-mi), and 5-km (3.1-mi) options available so runners of varying abilities can experience this iconic place.
Does 85-km (52-mi) of trail running sound like mountain bliss to you? Then this three-day staged running event in Golden is the experience of your dreams. Day one is an uphill slog, followed by a mountain-view loop on day two, and ending with a flat, flowy, and fun day three. “Fun” may not be first word that comes to mind when describing an 85-km trail run, but for some, this will be exactly that.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to start training. Let us know some of your favourite BC races in the comments below.
Opening image: Golden 24. Photo: Bruno Long
Are you a BC travel guru? Why not share your experience and write for the HelloBC blog?