A Trail Race In The Sky

As an adventurer at my core and a dedicated runner I became aware of a trail race being held at the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola this past September. “A race in the sky?” – I pondered for a second then I knew I couldn’t resist the opportunity and jumped on it immediately. While I had never entered or completed a trail race before, it felt wonderfully aligned that I should complete one in an area of British Columbia that has a piece of my heart. The event, The Sky Pilot Trail Race, was being held by Coast Mountain Trail Series, an organization that holds an exciting, well-prepared and long list of trail races throughout B.C. for most of the year.

Running with friends is always more enjoyable to me than running alone so it was exciting to find out that I would be joining a group of equally adventurous friends to scramble and run through 12.5km of forest high up in Squamish. It was to become my first ever trail race and I figured that there’d be no better place to do it than high in the sky. The race began at 10am and the first trail we touched was Al’s Habrich trail. A windy and hilly road up into the forest. We stayed on this trail for some time before segueing onto the Sea to Sky Gondola trail. There were steep sections, single track trails, rope climbs and one of my friends was nearly lost and about to start scaling a cliff as I came around a corner and found her!

For the last third, there was an incredibly long stretch of trail where I was completely alone running through the forest. Admittedly this was both a little terrifying but also somewhat therapeutic. It was incredibly peaceful and quiet. No voices, no man-made sounds. Just my breath, my shoes hitting nature’s floor and occasionally a waterfall that took my breath away at the incredible beauty. Here I was alone, in the forest on top of a mountain. I had nothing to truly worry about – an effortless way to become truly present in the moment. I fell in love a little more with British Columbia at that point.

The trail race was tougher than I expected, mainly because the registration site described the race to be a great “introductory trail race.” It wasn’t however I loved every minute of it and seeing as though I love a good challenge… this proved to be just perfect for my first trail race.

The Sea to Sky Gondola company also has an expansive set up that won’t disappoint. A suspension bridge is nearby once you get out of the gondola at the top and there are a number of lookouts with plenty of surrounding trails for all levels. As we were uploading, I couldn’t help but to be reminded of Tahoe. As you look down from the top of the gondola, you’re witness to the town of Squamish and the Howe Sound and it reminded me exactly of being at Northstar or Homewood and looking down Lake Tahoe.

Needless to say after exploring the forest for two and a half hours, it was time to find a large body of water to dunk myself in. We were going to head to one of the surrounding lakes, but decided on Porteau Cove instead as it was on the way home to Vancouver. It was just what I needed: the water was delightfully chilled, which helped ease my tired body. Since moving to British Columbia in 2006, I’ve never been disappointed in its natural playground. This was yet another weekend in BC done right and if you’ve been toying with the idea of gallivanting through a forest for a few hours, I’d highly recommend registering for one of the Coast Mountain Trail Series races – they’re even better with friends, promise!