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

Advocates call safe drug supply a victory but worry about logistics in pandemic

Pandemic contributes to scarce supply, advocates worried about potential impact on the streets

Greater Victoria survey shows third of respondents did not pay, or partially paid rent for April

Survey of 70 respondents says 40 per cent expect they will not be able to pay May rent

City of Victoria looks to shift tens of millions in 2020 budget due to COVID-19

Mayor Lisa Helps offers her daily municipal, provincial and federal updates

Nanaimo, Royal Jubilee to be Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 frontline hospitals

Other Island hospitals will be admitting COVID-19 patients and will be used in a support role

BC Transit extends free fare, installs vinyl barriers in some buses

Free fare will now be offered until April 30

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

75-year-old woman rescued from Cowichan Lake

Victim taken to hospital, but expected to recover

Not to become bored the game plan for COVID-19

Board game with an Island map developed by Island family just the remedy for filling time at home

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Most Read