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Seak the Peak 2016: Race Recap

Seak the Peak 2016: Race Recap
Seak the Peak 2016: Race Recap

On Sunday, June 12, my friends Nikki, Luke, and I took on the Seek the Peak Challenge as a relay team.

Seek the Peak is a 16 km trail race that starts at Ambleside Beach, follows the Capilano Pacific Trail to Capilano Canyon and Cleveland Dam, up Nancy Greene Way, to the base of the Grouse Grind. You climb up the Grouse Grind, and finish the race with a 3 km loop at the top of Grouse Mountain, that takes you straight up Heaven’s Sake ski run to the Peak of Grouse Mountain, and back down.

Team Peanut Butter and Jelly Legs at the finish
Team Peanut Butter and Jelly Legs at the finish

If you are interested, you can view the full route here. Over the course of the race, you gain 4100 ft in elevation. You can run Seek the Peak alone or you can take it on as a team challenge, with each team member running a leg. We took it on as Team Peanut Butter and Jelly Legs! I ran Legs 1 and 4, Nikki ran Leg 2 (Capilano Canyon and climb to Grouse), and Luke ran Leg 3 (Grouse Grind).

Since 2004, Seek the Peak has also raised over $368,000 in support of cancer research in British Columbia. A huge kudos to Nikki and Luke for fundraising close to $1500!

LEAD UP TO THE RACE

Having never done Seek the Peak before, we had several questions about how each of us would use the available shuttles to get to our checkpoints on time (where you pass off the timing chip to your teammate). The information provided on the website was unclear, and while we did contact the race organizer, the answers we received back were often vague and a bit confusing. So we went into the race hoping for the best!

I did not specifically train for the race. Since the marathon on May 1, I took a full week off from running, and have slowly got back into it (for a few weeks, it felt like crap). I have been doing long runs on the weekend, but have significantly cut back on my mileage compared to marathon training. 2-3 weekends before Seek the Peak, I moved my long runs partly to the trails of Stanley Park and Capilano Pacific Trail.

The race seemed to sneak up on us, so I barely thought about it! It was nice to go into a race with minimal expectations, and little stress.

DAY OF THE RACE

Nikki and Luke kindly picked up our packages the day before the race, one less thing to worry about on race morning!

Race Fuel

I woke up with an hour to spare, and downed a new Whole30-style pre-race breakfast. I have been making “Sweet Egg Scrambles” for breakfast regularly, and decided to make a variation on this, with a few more ingredients and higher calories (unsure when I would be eating next). I scrambled 2 eggs with 1 mashed banana in a pan, mixed in 2 tbsp ground flax, 1 tbsp sunflower seed butter, 0.5 tbsp coconut butter, and 1 cup frozen berries. It tasted great and I felt good – filling, but not weighed down. I had JJ Bean coffee and water on the side.

Start Line

We made our way to Ambleside Beach on Sunday morning arriving around 7:15 am. We signed waivers, checked our bags and made a washroom stop. Since it was still quite early (the race started at 8:15 am) the lines were minimal. Later on, 20-25 minutes before the race started, the washroom line-ups were brutal.

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Ambleside Beach and Capilano River on a sunnier day

Leg One

After a short lead group warm up, I was off on the first leg. While advertised as 4 km, the route was closer to 3.2 km. Had I known this, I would have picked up the pace. The first 1/3 is on a wider, paved path and the remainder of the route on narrow trail. There is minimal elevation and it is relatively easy.

Unfortunately, the shuttle to take Nikki from the start line at Ambleside Beach to checkpoint 1 was running late! Nikki ended up having Luke drive her to checkpoint 1 so we could meet, and I could hand off our timing chip. Because of the shuttle delays, we lost about 10 minutes as I waited for her.

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Legs Two and Three

While Nikki ran leg two (which I hear was hard and very very hilly!), I waited at Checkpoint 1 for a shuttle back to Ambleside. It was unclear when the shuttle would be arriving. It eventually showed up 20-25 minutes later to take us back to Ambleside. From there it was another 10-15 minute wait for a new shuttle to take us to the base of Grouse Mountain. I would strongly recommend wearing a long sleeve, or having your team member meet you at Checkpoint 1 with a sweater! It was chilly standing around.

Fearing I would be late to meet Luke at Checkpoint 3, I hustled my way from the shuttle when we arrived at the base of Grouse Mountain, to the gondola and up the mountain. Unlike other races, where the course is essentially closed to the public, here it is not! The gondola was packed to the brim with other people. Fortunately, I had some time to spare when I reached the top of Grouse Mountain before meeting Luke. I grabbed a banana and Nakd Bar, made a quick bathroom stop, and headed to the checkpoint.

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Leg Four

After Luke conquered the Grouse Grind, I grabbed the timing chip and began the final leg of Seek the Peak. We ran straight up Heaven’s Sake Ski Run to the peak of Grouse Mountain. The elevation got increasingly steep, and I, along with most everyone else, walked a good portion of the ascent. It was very foggy when we reached the peak, but supposedly there are great views on a nice day! The run down is a little sketchy, loose gravel and rocks, but fun. From there, it was a short run on a gravel path to the finish line.

Finish Line

We grabbed some swag from the various sponsor booths, took a few pictures, then managed to beat the lines and take the gondola back down. They offer minimal post-race food, but a paid BBQ. Instead, we had a fantastic post-race brunch at Cindy’s in West Vancouver!

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FINAL THOUGHTS

While a unique idea, I found the race rather disorganized and communication lacking prior to the race. Using the shuttles was frustrating and cost us time. I also went into it expecting a much better workout, and left feeling somewhat unsatisfied. In the future, I would either run legs 1 and 2, and have a teammate run legs 3 and 4, or do the race on my own.

On the bright side, I really enjoyed racing as a team and Seek the Peak left me wanting more and to get out racing again soon!

Have you done the Grouse Grind before or a relay race? 

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