The Foretrails Dirty Duo offers a unique racing experience. It is a mountain bike and/or trail run that showcases the popular trails of the lower Seymour area. You can do both sports solo, bring a friend and do a relay (one bikes, the other runs), or either run or bike. Distances for the trail run vary from 15k to 50k, while the bike course is 30k. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Unfortunately, due to the lingering snow, the bike events were cancelled. Fortunately, the running events were still a go, which meant I had to get my butt up to Inter-River Park for another dose of winter running.
The Foretrails Dirty Duo 15k Course
The race starts at Inter-River Park, conveniently located across the street from an Evo Car Share lot. Runners head north for a 4.5 km climb, with the first kilometre or so on asphalt. After tackling the Diamond Trail and the berm, you follow the Twin Bridges Trail. Enjoy the nice downhill because you’ll be climbing once again after you cross the bridge. The Mystery Creek/Powerline/Greenland combo will make you feel it until you get a fun descent down Bottletop. This loop takes you back to the bridge where you follow the same route back to Inter-River Park. Thankfully, it’s a net downhill from the Twin Bridges Trail… you just have to climb it first (don’t worry, it’s the last one but it’s long).
The first thing I loved about this race is its start time: 1 PM. I was able to sleep in, make coffee, have a leisurely breakfast, and get to the start line without panicking. I was still a little scared inside though, since they made spikes mandatory for the race. Most of the trails were snow-covered and icy and I didn’t know what to expect. Cuski and I got there an hour before because I thought parking would be an issue. It turns out it wasn’t. I was surprised to see the swag for the race, a fabric duffel bag! That was awesome and I’ve already used it to bring running clothes to work this week. To pass the time, I chatted with some running friends including Jonathan from the West Van Run Crew, Claire (@little.travel.runner), new friend Katie (@funwithk), and fellow 5 Peaks ambassador Kristin (@kristinlburris).
There’s nowhere to go but up!
I knew that the first few kilometres were going to be a challenge. There were some steep sections getting out of the park and through the cemetery. Once we were in the trails it was a slight incline up. Needless to say, power hiking was used early in the race. I also had to put on my spikes at about 2 km in. Running on the berm was a challenge at times. It was mostly single track but since it was also the route back to the finish, we had to make way for people. This meant running in deeper snow from time to time. It was a bit unstable but generally, it was ok. Everything was icy and snowy beyond the berm. With my spikes, it wasn’t a problem. I had a lot of fun bombing down the hill, not worried about slipping. If you’re curious, I have the Kahtoola Microspikes (you can buy it at MEC – not sponsored, I just like it a lot).
It was my first trail race and run in a while so the hills were kind of killing me. Thankfully I knew the route pretty well so I had an idea of what to expect from the Greenland/Bottletop loop. I knew that I had to climb up that hill I bombed down on (Twin Bridges Trail). It was a slow, tough slog. However, I knew that once I got to the berm, it will be a net downhill and can start pushing harder.
Past the berm and back on Diamond trail, I removed the spikes around the same place where I put them on. There were some areas that I had to take it easy on but for the most part it was smooth sailing. Once I hit the cemetery, I went full-out and let gravity propel me to the finish. Cuski was taking photos about 500 meters from the finish and snapped this awesome photo:
I ended up with a 2:15:19 chip time. My anticipated time was 2:30. Coming in 15 minutes earlier was a nice surprise. I did try hard towards the finish to get under that time but I was out of gas. I’m just happy that I finished strong and without any mishaps. It was a few days later when I realized that maybe all that unstable snow running may have screwed up my stabilizing muscles. My adductors were hurting and my RMT said I have never complained that much in a session before. I wanted to cry. Here’s a lesson: roll your adductors regularly.
It’s too bad that the snow stuck around. I would’ve wanted to see how the bike and run unfolded. I don’t think there’s another event similar to this in the city (other than your run-of-the-mill duathlons). Other than that, the race course was pretty well-marked and there were friendly course marshals where you needed them. It’s challenging due to the elevation but the terrain isn’t too technical. The snow covered most of the roots and rocks. If the paths were clear, the more challenging section would be the Bottletop descent but even that is not too difficult. Race organizers also communicated to us well in advance what the course conditions were. They also offered to defer entries to those who signed up for the bike and relay events.
The 15k runners passed the same aid station twice (around the 6k and 9k marks). I didn’t get to see what was on the table as I just kept going but the volunteers were super nice. At the finish, they served soup (which I didn’t have) but I did get a cookie. It looked like most of the food was picked over already so there wasn’t much of a selection. The biggest surprise was the fabric tote bag they gave out as swag. It’s one of the most useful race souvenirs I’ve ever received. I love that bag and have been using it to bring running gear to work. I will definitely make an effort to do this race next year as well, snow or no snow.