The Mountaineer - Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada
© 2007 The Mountaineer Publishing Company Limited.


Rocky runners compete at Black spur Ultra Marathon
By Amanda Richter
Staff Reporter

Local Rocky residents took to the trails to compete in the Black Spur Ultra Marathon in Kimberley, B.C., over the weekend of Aug. 24 to 26.
The course was set in the mountains and the terrain was rugged. Due to the raging wildfires in British Columbia, smoke filled the air making it much more physically demanding than usual. It was split into three loops that start and end at the Kimberley Alpine Resort. The two race distances of 54 km or 108 km were split into legs of 18.3 km with 886 m of elevation gain, 18.3 km 674 m gain, and 19.4 km with 670 m gain. The 50 k solos had 12 hours to complete the marathon, while the 100 k solos and teams had 24 hours and had to repeat the same loop.
Set in the remote wilderness, racers needed to be self-sufficient on the trails. It required a great level of dedication and commitment in the months leading up to the race to prepare. Runners were typically in very isolated areas with no immediate access to assistance or facilities of any kind. They were required to carry supplies such as food, water, headlamps, medical kits and bear spray. If participants could not complete the run in under 13 hours they would be left finishing in the dark. Although it was a daunting course, the racers were also treated to some scenic views on some of the best trails.
Rocky residents Sara Barr and Kelly Gosson participated in the 108 km team relay under the name “WHAT THE HILL!!!”
They, along with their other four teammates, placed second overall for the females and had a time of 17:26:41.2.
“It went really well,” said Gosson, “I wasn’t expecting great results because the air quality was so poor.”
The air quality for that weekend hovered around the 5+ mark on the air quality index.
Gosson nearly pulled out of the race due to the smoke. “For a minute I thought my team was going to have to scrape me off the road, it was super taxing. Then I got a second, third and fourth wind and was able to continue and give it my all,” said Gosson.
Normally six unique loops are completed but with the nearby wildfires this year, loops had to be repeated.
“You’re mostly running with your head down, but while running in this beautiful wild country, I had to stop and take a minute to take in the view,” said Gosson.
Other participants from Rocky Mountain House include Becky Heemeryck who placed fourth in the 54 k female race with a time of 7:21:17.08, and Steve Burton who came in 22nd out of 79 men and had a time of 7:46:06.9.
The race, which is an annual event, was hosted by Sinister Sports and sponsored by Stoked Oats.