Running with Nature: 5 Peaks Series

Much can be said in favour of trail running. It is a zero-trace sport. It is cheap, easy, safe, good exercise, and a direct way to connect with nature.

And the virtues don’t stop here.

The 5 Peaks Trail Running Series – which stopped in at Whistler Blackcomb last weekend and continues across the country – is more than a trail race.

Photo courtesy 5 Peaks
Photo courtesy 5 Peaks.

The Series is a celebration of nature, endurance training, and community engagement. Each race takes place on pre-marked natural-surface trails with participants running over the biosphere’s own obstacles – rocks, roots, tree stumps and logs, mud puddles, streams, snow and much more.

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Founded in 1998, the series originated in the Vancouver area, and attracted 600 participants over one summer.  Today, under new management, the series has spread across Canada and offers multiple course lengths, an intricate network of supporting sponsors, and the participation of over 12,000 racers per year.

The start of the 5K race. Photo courtesy Whistler Blackcomb.
Kids’ race, Blackcomb Mountain, 2014. Photo courtesy Whistler Blackcomb.

Following true to 5 Peaks tag line, people are increasingly motivated to GET OFF THE ROAD and onto the trails. The series runs from May to September each year with each region hosting one race per month. Each event consists of a free Children’s Challenge (50m – 1km), a Kidspeaks Timed Kids Challenge (about 3k), a Sport (5-8 km) entry-level course, and an Enduro (10-15 km) intermediate to advanced course.  Certain races will also have a half marathon distance.

Taking approximately 400 – 800 participants per race over some of the country’s most spectacular terrain, all competitors gain a new appreciation for the ease and beauty of enjoying their region’s backcountry. The series is open to novice through expert athletes with winners in different age categories receiving points and prizing.

Each race is staged with the goal of leaving no trace on the environment. Partners include Tree Canada, Salomon, MEC, Suunto, BuffKidSport Canada, Kicking Horse Coffee, and Clif Bar.