‘Seek The Peak’ – Grouse Grind 16k Vertical Race

So having seen this race advertised in my local gym a  few weeks back, I decided it would add a little spice and fun to my training. This was going to be a challenging race for me, not least because it was all unknown terrain and it dragged us over 4000 feet in elevation gain as we ascended the top of Vancouver’s local Grouse Mountain.

Naturally the weather was atrocious, hissing down with rain, long before the start time, which added an extra twist to the challenges. Being unfamiliar with the course and what to expect, I took off a little slower as I tried to run within myself a bit.

The ‘Grouse Grind’ is a famous climb or set of ‘steps’ reaching from the foot of its mountain to its peak. I knew it would always be a very tough challenge to even try to run this particular section of course, roughly around 3km in length and the average inclination weighing in at around 28% (some parts are in excess of 40%). Personally, it was the 10kms prior to the ‘start’ of the ‘grind’ that was the unknown and provided much of the challenge as I was reluctant to work too hard before I even reached the mountain, especially as much of this contained some serious elevation gain as well.

The ‘Grouse Grind’ is often referred to as ‘natures stairmaster’ and let me tell you, no amount of running will really prepare you for this. Aside from being a few thousand ‘steps’ over slippy rock and roots, at times being forced to scramble and crawl our way around hikers already out on the trail, we also had to cope with a deluge of water pouring down the rocks and course and which only worsened as we got nearer and nearer to the top.

Having reached the top of the ‘grind’ there were still a couple of kilometers left to tackle…in some very dense fog. A couple of times I had to ask for directions, to be told “straight on” and still having to clarify, “which way is straight?”. It felt like winter up there still, even in the middle of  July, and already being soaked to the skin, the conditions up top at times felt like it was about to snow again!

Was this a fun course?…On reflection, yes! It was certainly a different workout and challenge than I would otherwise have run that weekend and all in the name of charity. Hopefully the vertical ‘training’ will put me in good stead for the couple of trail ultras I have coming up over the next month or so.

Felt a little too good having finished, not least because I could dry off, change and warm up, but still had a fair bit left in the tank. The continuous ascending meant there was less muscle damage done and joints took less of a battering, so recovery for me was swift. Perhaps I could / should have pushed a little harder seeing how goo I felt, but maybe we’ll see next year as this is definitely a fun event and add’s a little something extra if considered as a training run.