How the Winter Vancouver VK Series Works
- Learn about VK's (Vertical Kilometer races) on our informative information page
- European Vertical KM races typically operate via a “Time-Trial” or (one at a time starting) format without aid stations, 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 (<5-6km).
- The Bremner's Winter Vancouver Vertical KM Series is a four-month online race format series, with no organised in-person races.. As a participant, you will simply run the courses on your own (or with friends), whenever is convenient to you, and you log your efforts to the online dashboard to register for our leaderboards. The series begins on Friday November 18th 2022 and runs to the end of the day on Sunday March 19th 2023. You can register at anytime during the series up until its conclusion.
- The cost is to register is FREE! Click here to register. If you would like to contribute to help cover our costs and effort, we offer an optional “Pay what you can afford” entry fee donation option. Your entry fee donation is greatly appreciated.
- You will receive login details for the Series Dashboard within 24-72 hours following registration. When the series commences, you simply log in to the dashboard to see what courses are currently open. Upon running any of the open VK courses, you will then submit your efforts (via GPS file or Strava Activity Link) on a web page submission form. Detailed instructions are provided on this page to help you understand the uploading process. If you are technology unsavvy - don't stress, we helped several people through this process successfully in 2022 over email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Submitted attempts will go live immediately on the Series Dashboard, but are flagged as unverified initially and will be subsequently verified by the race organiser (within 48-72 hours). In most cases, your time is verified by the Strava segment. If you don't use strava, upload your GPS file and we'll get the strava segment time for you (but we prefer you sign up to Strava to save us the time). We manage GPS issues and off-course turns on a case by case basis - they are expected in the North Shore mountains - we'll do our best to make everyone happy.
- The Series Dashboard lists all recent VK attempts and achievements by competitors in the series. If you would like to get an idea of how this works, check out our archive of the 2021 series
- Courses may temporarily close due to unsafe conditions during the series 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, but your time may be accepted if the course closed before you were able to be notified (a 24-hour leeway may apply).
- 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. If you are unsure of your skill or navigation ability sign up to one of our guided course social runs, or contact email@example.com for help on arranging a guided escort for your attempt.
- 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.
- 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 potentially a dangerous place for the underprepared. Please contact the race organiser James at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
How to Compete in the Series
I know what you’re thinking – are there any safe Vertical KM course options in winter? Actually, yes, we have several course options for the winter series available to use – so we’re going to put them to the test! All of our courses are on the region’s established and well-marked classic winter snowshoe trails.
However, we are breaking some of the traditional VK rules to pull this winter series off. Typically, a VK course should fall within the parameters of 1000m climb in less than 5km, but we’re going to stretch the rules to include some half VK options and one longer VK.
If you’ve been wanting to dip your toes into VK’s but don’t want to do the full 1000m, our two half VK options will be a good stepping stone. These shorter VK options will also help to build up your off-season fitness ready to hit the spring and summer stronger in 2023.
Winter also provides the opportunity to offer some downhill challenges into the mix for the first time! There’s nothing like running fast down a hardpack snow trail in winter and is a much safer prospect for fast downhilling than in the summer over roots and rocks.
What we are doing for this winter series is offering 5 course options all with three distinct challenges open for each course.
- 1. Achieve Time Benchmarks For each VK course, you can set your best time and benchmark your performance against multiple categories:
- Uphill only
- Combined uphill and downhill
- Downhill only
Each course will have a VK male and female champion based on time for uphill only, uphill and downhill and downhill only. While we only have 5 courses, there are 3 challenges for each course giving us 15 potential competition options.
- 2. Aim to Win our Combined VK Challenges!
There will be three VK Ultra champions (of each gender), determined from the combined times for each of the 5 courses in the uphill, uphill/downhill, downhill options:
- Winter VK Uphill Challenge (5 courses - 23.5km and 4000m ascent)
- Winter VK Combined Challenge (5 courses - 47km and 4000m ascent and 4000m descent)
- Winter VK Downhill Challenge (5 courses - 23.5km and 4000m descent)
You do not have to do every course in the same day, but your fastest time on each of the courses will be used in the calculation for your final race time at the end of the series.
- 3. Power Ranking Competition If running fast isn't your thing, but volume and time on your feet is, then you can still enjoy the series by engaging in the strategy of our power ranking competition. Some of our competitors in the 2021 and 2022 summer VK series found the journey of increasing their power ranking score highly addictive!
The power ranking is a rating based on your commitment to the series and rewards those who put the most effort into the series. Ranking points are attained through your VK attempts, achieving badges (and their associated bonus points) from achieving certain benchmarks and winning competitions within the series (such as most climbs during the week or month).
The Complete Explanation of the Power Rankings is outlined by clicking here
Snow conditions are constantly changing over winter. Unlike summer when the terrain is fixed, winter trails can be either soft pack, post-holey, slushy, hard park or icey at different times. Part of this challenge will be picking the right times and conditions to set your fastest times. Experience will count for a lot in this series, but you can also use this series to help build your experience too.
Trail crampons are necessary in most situations for our winter courses, but what you wear will be up to you. There is nothing worse than hitting some ice without any traction. Even if you anticipate a lot of soft pack, we still recommend always carrying your crampons just in case. We highly recommend the Hillsound Trail Crampon Ultra. https://hillsound.ca/products/trail-crampon-ultra We recommend you stock up on a pair or two prior to winter as demand for these can be high once the trails get icey.
Some of our courses begin up at the Cypress and Seymour ski resorts. There can be periods of limited parking and congestion (primarily on weekends), so plan your efforts accordingly. Please also ensure you have your winter tires on before attempting the drive up these mountain highways (required by law).
When you climb one of the VK courses there will be Strava segments setup for the uphill leg, the uphill and downhill combined leg, and the downhill leg. When your submit your effort to the series, you’ll be able to select which legs you want registered into the series leaderboards. You can choose one, two or all three options.
- Downhill only. You could take the Grouse gondola to the top and hike up the snowshoe grind and then run down VK3 Snowman only registering the time for the downhill leg. Or you could go up VK3 and take the tram down, only registering the time for the uphill leg.
- Uphill only. Maybe you went up and down VK3, but you took the downhill super chill. You can then choose to register the uphill only, or the uphill and downhill and downhill options.
The Vancouver VK Series is Proudly Sponsored by Bremner's Foods a local Vancouver based company.
Check out their premium products on Bremners Online at:www.bremnerfoods.com