How the Vancouver VK Series Works

General Information

  • The Bremner's Vancouver Vertical KM Series is an online race format series, so there are no organised in-person or mass gathering race dates. The series begins on Tuesday June 1st and runs to the end of the day on Sunday October 3rd 2021.
  • Our series is ideally suited to the current Covid-19 situation. The Bremner's Vancouver VK series will go ahead and gives certainty to athletes during 2021 irrespective of the ever-changing regulations regarding the pandemic.
  • As a participant, you will simply run the courses on your own (or with your family/friends), whenever is convenient to you.
  • Vertical KM races typically operate via a “Time-Trial” format, following a direct single route up a mountain face, making their cross-over into an online series relatively easy and seamless. Due to the short distance (<5km), VK races do not have aid stations and there is a reduced requirement for course markings.
  • The cost is $49 for registration to the series at an early bird rate and $59 from June 1st.
  • You can register as late as September 1st and still compete for the prizes.
  • The series has 20 VK courses to run, but competitors need only run 5 of the 20 courses to be eligible for the series overall win. Only your best 5 ranked VK course efforts are combined for the series overall ranking. Participants can improve their ranking by targetting courses that suit their individual strengths or have low participation rates. We also have a power ranking that rewards participants who put the most effort into the series (the most VK attempts etc...)
  • Each registered participant will be given login details for this website prior to June 1st. After running any of our VK courses, you will submit/upload your efforts (via GPS file or Strava Link) onto the Dashboard on this website to share your progress. Each VK attempt will be displayed on the dashboard feed, along with badges earnt, and ranking leaderboards for multiple categories.
  • We will provide detailed instructions on how to time your efforts closer to the June 1st series opening. There will be strava segments for all the VK routes. Submitted attempts will go live immediately, but will be flagged as unverified initially and will be subsequently verified by the race organiser (within 48-72 hours). We will manage GPS issues on a case by case basis - they are expected in the North Shore mountains - we'll do our best to make everyone happy. If a competitor goes off course, the time may not qualify, but the attempt will for our "power rankings" (in most circumstances).
  • You have four months to attempt as many courses in this series as you would like to compete on, and you may also run the same course multiple times. There are different categories for leaderboards and rankings (More information in the sections below).
  • Detailed course instructions can be found here and further information will be provided prior to courses opening - including video demonstrations of start and finish locations and tricky navigation areas. Some courses will have flagging tape in parts.
  • Some courses will open immediately when the series begins in June (primarily the Grouse Mountain courses), and others will only open when they are snow free, which may be July or August. We are expecting a delayed opening to backcountry courses this year due to heavy snowfalls over the winter. Courses may close (for acceptance on our series leaderboards) due to unsafe conditions during the series (such as snow, substantial rain events, landslides, forest fires, trail maintainence/closures) or if restrictions are placed on public access outside of our control. We will not accept attempts for the series leaderboards when a course is closed.
  • Competitiors will be notified when courses close via email, on your Dashboard, on the Series Facebook Group and also the courses page has a complete list of courses with current opening status. Please check the course status on the morning before you run any of courses to be certain.
  • Even if we say a course is "open", you are entirely responsible for yourself and you must sign a release waiver when registering for this series accepting all risk. Read the waiver here. You must undertake your own safety and risk assessments. You must do suitable research on the courses, be appropriately trained for the intensity of this race format, check whether the weather and mountain conditions are safe, carry appropriate supplies (essentials, food, and water) and accept all the risk yourself in getting yourself up and down the courses safely.
  • All competitors are highly encouraged to follow BC's AdventureSmart guidelines, especially leaving a trip plan with a loved one. If the weather or conditions are unsafe, you must turn back like you would on any other outing. There are four months for you to complete courses in this series ... just come back another day.
  • It is recommended that participants do a recon run on the course prior to attempting a faster effort if you are unfamiliar with the route. If you get lost or have to turn back we will likely still accept your attempt for the "power rankings", but the time will only count for the overall time-based ranking leaderboards if you complete the official course route or something similar as long as you didn't shortcut the route.
  • While we have done our best to choose courses that give a good trail running experience, please realise the North Vancouver and backcountry mountains are technical, challenging, and a dangerous place for the underprepared. Please contact the race organiser James at if you require advice or assistance in making a determination about your ability to complete any of our courses, or if you need more information about a course.
  • James provides performance coaching services (Couch->Summit Performance Coaching) and has vast experience in VK and vertical-orientated trail races; he can help train you as a runner to develop your ability to run these types of races. If you sign up to coaching you will receive free entry to the series (or refund if you've already paid). Learn more here.
  • We offer some free training advice for the series here.
  • There is a Facebook Group for our series where you can discuss the series with other participants.

Why So Many Courses?

  • 20 courses may appear overwhelming; however, a large number of courses was implemented for strategic purposes ... in essence, to make the series more competitive and interesting. But also because we want to showcase the potential for vertical running in the mountains here in Vancouver! Ultimately, more courses is to lower the chances of one top elite runner wiping out all other competitors’ chances early in the series. With more courses, any one runner cannot wrap up the series win without exceptional levels of effort; therefore, the series should maintain competitive interest to the very end.
  • Furthermore, more courses are not to exhaust the runners by asking of them to do more to win, but to give them competitive advantage. Since only your best five course performances count, it allows for you to choose courses that suit your strengths. Importantly, it opens the door for strong downhill runners to compete with uphill specialists for the series win. Seven of the 20 courses contain downhill legs in the range of ~100-200m. One has over 400m descent including the 1000m ascent and still comes in under 5km in total distance!


  • Four Grand Prizes are on offer for this series. We are still determining the prizes we will offer, but will likely be in the $200 range for each Grand Prize.
  • Random draw prize. At the conclusion of the series, one Grand Prize will be drawn at random for any participant who qualifies by attempting a minimum of 5 different VK courses during the series. You have 4 months to run 5 different VK courses to qualify.
  • Overall Series Men's and Women's Winner. One Grand Prize is awarded to both the Men's and Women's Winner of the Overall Series Ranking.
  • Power Ranking Winner. One Grand Prize will be awarded to the power ranking winner.

Overall Series Ranking

  • There are 20 courses in the series but it is not expected many people will want to run all of them throughout the series. We don’t want to ask athletes to complete all 20 courses to win the series (or even 10 for that matter), but doing them all might be a challenge you want to aim for! The series caters for both options.
  • To win the series for the Overall Series Ranking, a participant must run 5 courses (at a minimum) and only your best five performances combine for this Ranking. Each course awards a maximum of 200 points and combined your five best rankings are added to determine a total ranking out of 1000 points. A participant may choose any of the 20 courses they prefer and suit their strengths as an athlete, and you may choose to run more than five courses if you wish, but only your best five ranked performances are used in the ranking.
  • For each course, there is a maximum of 200 ranking points, with the full amount of 200 awarded to the current course record holder. All other competitors times are then calculated as a percentage of the course record time. For example: Athlete A has the course record at 34:45. Athlete B runs a time of 40:44. The course record is ~20% faster, so Athlete B’s percentage is calculated as 80%, and 80% of 200 is 171 points. Athlete A gets 200, Athlete B gets 171. If a new course record is set, all rankings for that course are subsequently recalculated.
  • If two or more participants are tied on ranking at the end of the series (i.e. they both have 1000 points), the series will be awarded to the competitor with the highest Series Power Ranking. Therefore, it rewards the fastest runner who put more effort into the series.
  • Our ranking advantages runners who target the less popular courses because there is more potential for a higher ranking on less competitive courses. Thus it will help to contribute a more even spread of competitors across all 20 courses. If a competitor's time on one course feels out of your reach, you can simply choose a different course to target with a less challenging course record time and improve your Series Ranking (even if you don't set the new course record).
  • Several of our courses feature some downhill segments, which allows more well-rounded athletes (and downhill specialists), to compete more evenly against the uphill specialists for the series win. Theoretically, a downhill specialist could set five course records on the courses featuring downhill and tie on 1000 series ranking points with an uphill specialist who has course records on five solely uphill courses.
  • 20 courses make it harder for one very strong elite runner to win the series even if their top five VK course record efforts are proving to be unbeatable. They can still be beaten since there are 15 other courses left for another competitor to tie on 1000 points with five course records of their own. The leader will then be incentivized to either steal course records from their rivals or improve their power ranking to ensure victory as the tie-breaker. This concept rewards initiative and strategy.
  • The only way for one person to realistically guarantee victory before October 3 is to set enough course records to prevent anyone else from setting five. This would be a hard task. The series leader must be constantly monitoring the series and responding to new uncertainties as their rivals can increase their power ranking and attack their 5 highest ranked courses at any point. Therefore, other competitors can possibly lower your ranking score with their attempts. The series ranking leader might not know until the last day if they have the series win secured. The other way to secure victory is to run more courses regularly and improve the power ranking beyond the reach of other competitors who might tie on ranking points.
  • There will be top 10, and age-group categories for the Series Ranking, and you can also create your own social group leaderboard - so you can see where you ranked against your friends and peers - but only the 1st place Men's and Women's overall winners will receive a Grand Prize. If the series proves a success, we will look to offer more prizes to other competitors in future years.

Series Power Ranking

  • Series Power Ranking This is a rating based on commitment to the series. The ranking doesn’t focus on rewarding the fastest athletes, but those who put the most effort into the series. This is achieved by rewarding multiple VK attempts, and awarding competitors badges (and bonus points) from achieving certain benchmarks and winning competitions within the series. Attempts in the Backcountry and Sea to Sky VK groups will be scored higher than those in the Grouse Mountain Group due to the extra effort involved in getting to those courses (some require a long hike or bike ride to the starting point).
  • Badges Participants will earn badges by achieving certain milestones and competitions throughout the season. Some of these badges will have leaderboard pages so participants can see where they rank and what they need to accomplish to earn the badge. Each badge adds a bonus value that increases the Power Ranking score. Some challenges and rewards include:
    • All 20 courses run – Power Ranking Bonus
    • Number of different courses run – Power Ranking Bonus for each different course attempted.
    • Course record badge – Power Ranking Bonus
    • Most vertical ascent in a month – Power Ranking Bonus
    • Most number of climbs on a single course – Power Ranking Bonus
    • Amount of vertical ascent in the series – Power Ranking Bonus for every 5km
    • Most amount of different courses run in a month – Power Ranking Bonus for every course over 3
    • Everest Challenges: 9km in a day (Power Ranking Bonus ), in a week (Power Ranking Bonus ) etc…
    • Badges for achieving specific time barriers (Power Ranking Bonus varies)
    • 5+, 10+, 15+, 20+ times a single course (Power Ranking Bonus varies).
  • More details will be announced about the Power Ranking Bonus values and Badges (In Series Competitions) on offer prior to June 1st
Example badges:

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