Seek the Peak… The thought of running from Ambleside Park to the top of Grouse is tiring just thinking about it. It’s 1400 meters of elevation after all! So when fellow West Van Run teammates Bradley and Samantha suggested we do a relay I was all for it. Bradley took the first two legs (8.5 km from Ambleside to Grouse Grind trailhead). Sam did the Grouse Grind and I ran to the top and crossed the finish. I’ve never done a relay before but I knew it was going to be a blast either way with friends on my corner.
The race requires all runners to pick up their bib (and timing wristband for relay members) in person at Grouse Mountain Guest Services. Luckily, we ran our long runs by Grouse Mountain so it was very convenient for us to stop by on the way back. The separate queue for package pickup was definitely appreciated; however, there was still a bit of confusion.
They couldn’t find my bib right away and thought that my teammates picked it up for me. I said no I don’t think they did, and after frantically texting them, confirmed my suspicions. Apparently, they put my bib away because they thought it was an extra one. We were only a group of 3 (instead of 4) so Bradley took bibs 1 & 2 for his first 2 legs and Sam took bib 3. They thought the remaining bib was unused and put it away. I grabbed it anyway since I was running leg 4, I wanted the 4th bib.
Fun fact for relay runners, they said it didn’t matter what bib you wore since the chip isn’t on there. The chip is a separate thing you wear on your wrist… the baton of this relay, so to speak. So technically, I could’ve used one of Bradley or Sam’s bibs.
Sam and I headed to Ambleside Park to send Bradley off. This year, Seek the Peak didn’t share a date with other big name races so the turnout was pretty good. Solo finishers exceeded that of last year’s however, there were less relay teams in 2019. Race organizers made things convenient for us to get around. Sam and I hopped on a complimentary shuttle bus that took us up to Grouse Mountain.
Soon enough, we started seeing the leaders arrive so we cheered them on. I connected with Bradley using Find Friends on iPhone and Apple Watch, which showed us where he was in real time. That way, Sam could get ready for her leg and have a smooth transition. Bradley pushed hard and finished with a smile (as usual), did the quick switch, and Sam was off! She’s a fast Grouse Grinder so Bradley and I quickly took the gondola to the top to meet her. The gondola trip was included in our entry fee, as was a gondola ticket for a guest spectator to come and watch.
At this point, I was getting nervous. I had just run a 25 km training run the day before so I wasn’t as fresh as I wanted to be. I also didn’t want to let my team down. As soon as we spotted Sam, I grabbed the very bulky tracker from her and bolted. I fumbled with the wristband for the first 5 minutes since it was kind of annoying to put on.
Surprisingly, I felt pretty strong and power hiked up the mountain at a decent time. The first time I went up to the windmill, it took me about 25 minutes (after doing a Grouse Grind). On race day, we actually went a little further but it only took me 15 minutes to get to the top. What a difference fresh legs make. The weather was perfect and the view was spectacular.
The descent was a bit finicky with all the loose rocks that can easily make you lose your footing. It took me 16 minutes last time, on race day it only took me 8 minutes to get down. 23:39 was my final time and it was so amazing to cross the finish line with Sam and Bradley. I think we divvied up the segments pretty well to match our strengths. Our team placed 13th out of 28th… yay for the top 50%!
My first Seek the Peak experience was pretty good. Doing the relay with friends was a great experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Seeing all the runners was pretty inspiring. Running up for 13-14 km is not easy. To reward our efforts, they gave us a medal and a free Granville Island beer at the finish line.
The race also fundraises to benefit the BC Cancer Foundation, which is awesome. There were a bunch of tents set up at the finish area including a burger station, which you had to pay for. It’s too bad they didn’t include a burger for runners (even just to the solo racers). A beer is not enough after that kind of workout.
All in all it was a great day spent with so many friends and people who may have persuaded me to do the full thing next year… maybe 😉 Thanks Seek the Peak… til next year!
Have you done this race? Would you run an (mostly) ascent race?