Disclaimer: I am a 5 Peaks Trail Crew Leader (Ambassador); however, all opinions in this review are my own.
5 Peaks Cypress was the 4th trail race of the series. Although I have raced the Sport course twice before, this year was a whole new challenge. Race organizers created new courses for both the Sport and Enduro distances. They promised more elevation and better views. Let’s just say they didn’t scrimp on either.
The race starts relatively easy with a jaunt through parts of the Howe Sound Crest Trail and then starts going up gradually on runnable switchbacks. The 5 Peaks Cypress 11 km Enduro course is a beast though. It’s a shorter Enduro course but the almost 800 meter elevation gain is no joke. I mean, look at this.
After the first section, we were greeted by a course marshal who was also the new course designer. He then directed us left to an even even steeper climb. I turned around to take a photo so you can see how long it was.
The photos don’t really show the steepness very well but it was a slow march to the top where the aid station was. Once there, Sport runners turned right to head towards the finish while Enduro runners turned left for yet another climb. I thought the top was just around the corner but nope, there seemed to be endless switchbacks. The views of the Lions and Howe Sound at the top were worth all the effort though.
After that it was a long, fast downhill which could be slippery at times with the loose rock. The course is a little mean because at one point you can see the finish line and tents below you but Enduro runners are directed on yet ANOTHER climb, which was exposed and hot that day. You finish off going down the switchbacks you climbed at the start of the race but you get back to the finish via a more direct route. This was definitely a much harder (but more beautiful) course compared to last year.
How Did I Do?
I don’t even know how to evaluate myself since I have nothing to compare to. 2:13:52 was my chip time and I finished at the back of the pack, 9 places before the last person. There was definitely a lot of power hiking in this race. The first two ski hills we climbed were the steepest of the course so that was a tough slog. At times I took “photo breaks” or should I say, breaks 😛 Nevertheless, I kept going. Seeing friends at the aid station made me feel better but that was short-lived as I was climbing to the top of the next ski hill. It was still a decent distance away, not “just around the corner” like someone said. What’s worse is that you couldn’t see the top, just more switchbacks lol. Eventually the views did make up for all that work. Despite the increased difficulty, these changes were a huge improvement to the course.
The long descent can either be super fast or super cautious, depending on your skill. It was a combination for me, especially after seeing someone slip right in front of me. I have to learn to not let that bother me next time. I slowed down quite a bit after seeing that happen. At the bottom, we were directed to one last climb, which really killed me lol. I wasn’t expecting it, maybe I should’ve looked at the map. Luckily for me, it wasn’t that long, but man it was hot that day and I just wanted to be done. I could hear the crowd at the bottom so I used that to propel me forward.
Quick Recap of 5 Peaks Cypress
Organization – Organizers kept us updated about the course changes as soon as they had information and everything went smoothly.
Course – Both Enduro and Sport will get to experience some steep climbing but Enduro runners will be treated to more. So this event for you if you’ve got the legs or you like beautiful views. Probably the 2nd best views in the series. My favourite views are still at the Whistler race which is happening this weekend.
Swag – Collapsible cups with carabiners are the swag for this race, which I used for other trail races. Definite plus! KIND breakfast bars and also Yurbuds were up for grabs too.
Would I Do it Again? Definitely! I want to see how much faster I can climb next time.
A special congrats to Cuski for nabbing 3rd in his age group in the Sport race. So proud of this guy… at the time of this race, he was still training for his first ultra. Happy to say that he officially became an ultra runner last Sunday.