- 5 miles/8K, 9 miles/15K, Other
- Trail Race
So, it took me a solid year or two to finally sign up for a 5 Peaks race after envying my friend's pics and experiences of running these races in Ontario and Alberta. Since I'm mostly a road runner, I searched through the options for Alberta a couple of months ago and chose a race that was close to home and didn't seem too technical. Also, I had heard that the Fish Creek course was fun, so it seemed like a no-brainer for me.
Registering online was easy & I used an ambassador's code for 10% off race registration. There's plenty of 5 Peaks Ambassadors across the country, so I always see them tweeting or instagramming their codes, which is super convenient. It's not much, but it's nice to save a couple bucks here and there!
There were two distance options for this race - the Enduro and the Sport. The odd part about this race is that I signed up for the Sport distance, which was around 6KM at the time of registration. About a week before the race I double checked the map, and the distance had changed to 8.3KM. No big deal, it's just worth mentioning that you should double check your distance as you get closer to the race.
These races offer packet pick-up the morning of the race, so I opted to do that because the regular pick-up spot was a bit far for me to travel on transit. All I did was show up a little early and it was super easy to grab my bib and race swag (an awesome pair of Swiftwick socks!).
Pre-race there were 1K & 3K kids races going on and watching them was super cute and fun. Everyone was cheering the kids on & the race director was even giving away a growler for the loudest person (adult!) cheering. Growlers as prizes? Definitely different from road racing! :)
I did find that showing up early was important for this race, especially if you need to use the washroom before running. There were two outdoor park washrooms available, but the women's lines were long. It took long enough that I literally had to run out of the washroom and to the start line and take off right away! Not a big deal, just glad I got out in time to make my start wave!
The course was really nice and took us through some different terrains. We started on pavement and then switched to gravel and dirt trails, with a good amount of single track (which was totally new for me). There were some good hills that gave me a challenge and certainly some beautiful views through Fish Creek park.
The weather was quite nice for the morning of the race, but a bit humid, which is a funny feeling for Calgary. It felt even more humid in the woods, but it was nice to get some shade. I didn't really notice a lot of bugs or flies, which was nice as well because I totally forgot bug spray.
Another fun part of trail running that I learned is that the distance posted may not be what you actually run. Around 8KM I was starting to think that we were too far from the finish line. I even started to worry that I got lost, but I still saw the flag markers so I wasn't sure. I kept following the flags and eventually got back to the finish line, so I'm somewhat sure I ran the actual course. But, the distance I got on my Garmin was 9.44KM. I know these aren't super accurate, so I asked a few people and they got distance around 9.3KM for the Sport distance. No big deal, not complaining, I just found it funny... I signed up for 6ish KM, noticed it got updated to 8.3KM and ended up running over 9KM. Good times, right?
Post-race the food options were awesome. Watermelon, bananas, oranges, chips, cookies, macaroons, etc. Seriously, the watermelon was so refreshing after the race, it made me so happy. There was plenty of water and electrolyte drink, you just have to remember to bring your own water container because these events are cup/bottle free.
After the races there were some fun contests to win free trail shoes from Altra and another growler. They also presented the medals to the top 3 in male and female age groups and top 3 overall. Lots of people seemed to stick around for the food and fun, so that was nice to see.
Overall, I had a great time at my first 5 Peaks race. Enjoyed the entertainment, loved the course, and found the post-race food to be wicked. Trail runners seem to have a lot of fun and the atmosphere appeared to be more relaxed than a road race. I'll probably check out another one late this year or maybe next year, as long as the course isn't too technical.
- Sweet race swag (Swiftwick socks), which is different for every race of the series
- Post race food was awesome, lots of options
- Cup free event, so ideally there is less litter around
- Fun atmosphere, cool prizes
- Cute medals for age group and overall winners
- Nice course, great views
- Flush toilets
- Easily accessible by transit, but there was a good amount of parking available
- Not enough toilets
- Race distance changes were a little confusing for me as a first timer
- The starting waves were a little confusing, different from the email, so you have to really pay attention at the start