Bear Mountain 10K race directors Nick Walker and Mark Nelson have added a half-marathon course to their popular but difficult road race at Bear Moutain resort.

Bear Mountain 10K race directors Nick Walker and Mark Nelson have added a half-marathon course to their popular but difficult road race at Bear Moutain resort.

Bear Mountain race offers Canada’s toughest half-marathon

It’s a run course so daunting, even the race directors hadn’t completed it when they announced the event.

It’s a run course so daunting, even the race directors hadn’t completed it when they announced the event.

The Bear Mountain 10K, famed for being the toughest 10 kilometre road race in Canada, has added a 21.1 km half-marathon route around the two scenic but notoriously hilly golf courses at the Langford-based resort.

“We’ve run the half-marathon course twice, and haven’t finished it all,” laughs Mark Nelson, the race director with Nick Walker. “The downhill pounds the legs, the uphill pounds the legs. It’s crazy how hard the course is.”

This is coming from guys who are among the elite trail runners of Victoria. Walker is the two-time defending champion of the Xterra 10 km trail run held in Maui. Last year Nelson ran 200 kilometres through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

The owners of Langford Frontrunners said the time was right to expand the Bear Mountain 10K. Last year registration was capped at 500, but sheer demand pushed it to 650. This year it’s open to 750 runners for the 10 km route, and 250 for the half-marathon.

“Since they built the Valley course, we’ve always joked about doing a half-marathon,” Nelson says. “It was always on the back burner until we want to make sure we had high enough registration. We didn’t want too thin a field.”

The organizers stand by the assertion that the Bear Mountain 10K is the hardest road race in Canada, and by extension so is the half marathon. There’s a good reason why golfers can’t walk the undulating Mountain and Valley courses and are required to use golf carts. Walker pointed out no city would build roads with such steep grades and sharp switchbacks.

“This is one of North America’s toughest golf courses to play,” Walker said. “As far as a road race goes, this is definitely the hardest.”

They’ve tried to soften the reputation of the Mountain course route by using names like Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear to label three distinct lung-busting hills. Papa Bear, for instance, has a 130 metre elevation change over 1.6 kilometres, and gets steeper near the top.

They describe the Valley course as having slightly less fearsome slopes and five kilometres of relative flatness, until the approach back to the Westin Bear Mountain hotel.

“That last two kilometres (of the half marathon), that part of the race where you really start getting tired, will be a real grind to get back up here,” Nelson observed.

As Walker and Nelson launch a new era of the race this year, they admit last November’s bitterly cold snow storm threatened to sink the event, possibly for good. If forced to refund entry fees, the race would have been deep in the red, about $30,000.

But Bear Mountain staff cleared snow drifts and salted 6.5 km of golf cart paths for a shorter run fraught with icy slopes and freezing wind.

“If we had to cancel the event, there would be huge repercussions,” Nelson says. “We try to do a good job on expenses for the event. There’s not a lot of sponsor money. We pay fair price for services we bring in.”

“We put all the money out for an event whether there’s an event or not,” Walker says.

This year they plan to up the ante and bring in more hot tubs at the athletic club for post-race recovery, more food and a more festive atmosphere at the finish chute.

“People like the challenge of this race. It’s a run were you feel you’ve accomplished something,” Nelson says. “The idea behind the event is not getting a personal best, but having a fun weekend and getting away.”

The Bear Mountain half marathon and 10K run is on Nov. 26. See www.bearmountain10k.ca.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Andrew Swanson was arrested Wednesday after he was wanted for an alleged choking assault and for obstructing police. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police arrest Andrew Swanson on warrants for alleged choking assault, obstruction

A member of the public spotted Swanson and called 911 before police came and made the arrest

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth sustains minor injuries in stabbing at Saanich Plaza

Suspect under age of 16 taken into custody, no risk to the public, police say

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
West Shore proud owners of B.C.’s first electric school bus

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Sue Hodgson returns as publisher of the Peninsula News Review starting June 1. (Courtesy Sue Hodgson)
Peninsula News Review welcomes back Sue Hodgson as publisher

Dale Naftel takes helm of Oak Bay News as publisher

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you plan to travel on the Victoria Day long weekend?

It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues,… Continue reading

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports 1st vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,500 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

Most Read