Every time I have ever driven through the Kelowna area, gazing at the dry, sagebrush covered hillsides, I have dreamt of running there. So I was pretty stoked to get the chance to run “Spring Rush” on April 25 in Kelowna. Not only is the race named after me (you may have to fact check that with the race director), but the race would wind through the very hills I have long dreamt of running.
The event is located a ten minute drive from Bear Creek Provincial Park, which came in very handy for camping the night before. With such a short drive from the start line it meant I didn’t need to get up too early on race day.
When I arrived at the start line the morning of, the tents were just being set up. Despite the flurry of activity I wanted to take a minute to meet Rene Unser, the race director, as I have seen so much of her through social media and have heard so many wonderful things about her. She said hello with a big warm hug and was bubbling with excitement! All I could notice was the huge smile on her face and how eager she was to share her local trails with everyone that day.
This race was tough, tougher than I thought it was going to be.
I am not sure what I was expecting, in fact I didn’t actually research much about the actual course before running it. There was a quick glance of the elevation profile, but apart from that I was just so stoked to run the race that I didn’t pay much attention to anything else. I had no knowledge of when the big hill was coming or of the endless switchback descents. Everything was a surprise and in the end I kind of liked it that way.
If you are reading this though you probably want to know a little bit about the course, so I’ll share some of it with you.
The course is flowy, runnable, dreamy singletrack.
But don’t let that fool you, there is some serious climbing to be done on these trails and it is the runnable nature of the trail that makes this race tough. When you are used to technical uphill running, like I am on the west coast, you get used to slowing down a lot. This terrain, however kept you running, even when it was steep. You are convinced that since the path under your feet is not technical there is no reason to slow down, so you push harder.
Then there was “the monster climb”. This is the part of the race, where even though the singletrack is still runnable, the grade of the hill will have you tempering your running with power hiking. This climb switchbacks for several km’s. Just when you think that maybe, just maybe, you have had enough climbing you reach the top and are rewarded with the most beautiful hairpin-turn switchbacks all the way down the hill. The grade of the descent is just right for keeping the perfect downhill rhythm. This is where you can make up the time and let gravity do the work.
Then there was the views. Despite the rainy race day I had, I could still appreciate the moody view of clouds slowly engulfing the nearby hills, breaking for only a moment to allow a glimpse of the lake below. Even watching runners through the misty sparsely forested hillsides had a magical feel to it. In the last 7km’s there was a section where the entire forest floor was blanketed in bright yellow wildflowers. It was like nothing I have ever seen and I literally had to stop in my tracks to just take in the view.
A course that is mostly singletrack with decent amounts of uphill and beautiful flowy downhill sections. This is a fun and tough race that will leave you breathless, not only because it will make you work hard, but you will catch some pretty amazing views while you are out there.
This is a grassroots race – small, vibrant and very personal.
All runners receive a race medal handmade from clay by the race director, each one unique with a hand tied necklace. If you happen to be a top finisher then you also receive a delicious homemade pie. Then you get a hug from Rene at the finish line that will leave you with a huge smile on your face. Spring Rush has now been added to the yearly race roster!