Dirty Feet Kal Park 25 km Race Report

Last Sunday I did my first big race of the year – the Dirty Feet 25 KM Trail Race in Kal Park! I have done many, many Dirty Feet races in the past and know the race directors pretty well (Hi Phil and Grace!) A couple weeks ago when I was manning the booth at the race expo we were right next to the Dirty Feet booth so they got to “scare” me with how hilly this race would be. Needless to say I went into it expecting a gruelling, hilly race. And I was kind of dreading it.

Luckily I was pleasantly surprised with some of the nicest trails I’ve ever ran on and it turned out to be my favourite trail race to date – that’s not to say it wasn’t hard though..

My mom drove my friend Tara and I over in the morning so we left Kamloops at 6:45 am for the 9:00 am race start. It ended up being perfect timing because we had about 20 minutes to check in and hang around before the race started. Considering it was pouring rain and freezing I was happy to not have any more time at the start.

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Just after 9 am we were off! The course started with some pretty serious climbing. We actually went backwards from the 21 km race I ran last summer in Vernon and climbed the hill we came down in that race. For the first 4-5ish km we climbed and climbed and climbed.

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I don’t remember much of the climb but I remember it was pretty grueling and I was happy to reach the top and get to go down!

I’ve ran many long trail races and training runs with my friend Tara so it didn’t take long for us to get in a rhythm and start chatting away. After the climb we had lots of rolling hills, as you can see above. I don’t really remember a ton of this but I remember some of the trails we were on being very very lush! Because of all the rain it was so green all around us and the majority of this race was on amazing single-track trails. Because of the rain I didn’t pull out my phone much but here is a photo I did quickly snap to give you an idea of the trails we were on.

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I kept saying to Tara “I love these trails! This is awesome!” and the truth was, it was awesome! I was having a lot of fun running on beautiful trails and I wasn’t even bothered by the rain.

At one point we broke out of the trees and we were overlooking this huge, green hill with cows grazing all over it and it was just like I imagine Ireland will be. So beautiful! There were definitely parts of this race that would have been brutal in the heat though because of lack of shade. I was very glad for our drizzly, cool weather vs. the 29 C heat and sun they had last year!

In the elevation picture above you can see the second big hill that we climbed right after reaching the aid station. It was quite the hike, but we were awarded at the top with a pretty waterfall, so we took a selfie.

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And then we started to go down. And down. And down. AND DOWN. I have to say, climbing hills is a hard part of trail running, yes. But so is excessive downhill! My legs were dead at the end of that downhill. It was super technical and steep in some parts. The only other places I’ve ever seen trails like that are in the Lower Mainland. The terrain of this race actually reminded me so much of Squamish!

After all that downhill again we got to visit the aid station again before the final 5 km. I actually felt super amazing this whole race until that last 5 km. By then I was ready to be done. That said, I was still really enjoying myself and the beautiful views.

Here is the view of the lake from the aid station. We poked out of the trees for many views of the lake throughout the race.

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We powered through the last 5 km, which included a few more climbs that when looking at the elevation profile above looked like nothing but certainly felt intense on our tired legs.

Here is a photo I stole off the Dirty Feet Facebook page showing the beautiful view of the lake behind us as we climbed.

Lake view

I would say that of the entire 4hours and 2 minutes we spent on our feet on Sunday, only really the last 10-15 minutes of the race were truly miserable. And that’s because we were just ready to be done, which is understandable after such a long race I think. However we crossed the finish line with smiles on our faces and raving about how much we loved the trails. I actually had such a high the rest of the day after not only conquering such a long, hard race but because I felt so grateful and blessed to have found trail running and to love it the way I do. I can’t wait to get back to Vernon and run these trails more this summer.

I just can’t even imagine running a long race on my own anymore after doing so many races with friends the last few years. I’m sure those 4 hours wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable if I didn’t have a friend by my side. I’ve really started to value running with friends and moving at a slower pace vs. training hard and trying to kill myself in a race to get a good time. I’m just so lucky and glad running, trail running and all my amazing running friends are part of my life.

If you are in British Columbia and looking for a middle of the road trail race distance that would be challenging but still not ‘ultra’ challenging I cannot recommend this race enough! While I went into the day feeling a little sad not to be in Vancouver with all my friends running the marathon there I ended the day knowing the trails are exactly where I want to be and where I’m meant to be right now! 

What’s your favourite race that you’ve ever ran? This is definitely my new favourite trail race. Favourite road race is probably still BMO Vancouver – only because I’ve now done that race three times (marathon once and half-marathon twice!) and I love Vancouver so much.

10 Responses

  1. I am glad you had such a great race experience! It looks and sounds like a beautiful place to run! And I am sure it makes a world of difference to have a friend out there with you. I have been doing all of my running alone and it is getting beyond old. I actually think I am going to run with a group on Sunday. I am leaving in a week, but I just need a change of scenery and need to be out there with others. Plus I think it will slow me down a bit as I have been running my ‘long’ runs faster than I should be.

    I think my favorite race was the half at Victoria. I ran that pretty much alone but I felt so strong during that race and finished well below my goal for the race. And it was a beautiful race setting. I am looking forward to our half in Berkeley this September. I plan to take it easy and not have expectations for a finish time and pace. I just want to get out there, soak up the views, and have fun with you girls!

  2. Heather says:

    What a beautiful race!! Hills and I are fighting right now, so Im glad you were able to conquer them so gracefully.

    My favorite race has been the Peachtree Road Race here in Atlanta. It’s the 4th of July so it is already exciting, it is hot (I love hot runs), and everyone comes out to cheer people on. They have been doing it for a million years so it is extremely organized and well run. But like I said, I am fighting with hills right now, so Cardiac Hill and I will have some words prior to the race this year

  3. Caroline says:

    Glad you had a good race! Sounds like a beautiful spot. My favorite race was probably Chicago.. just simply because it was my marathon and the crowd was awesome.

  4. Great race! Yea 4 hours is a good marathon time. If you’re out on trails for that long and going 25k, that’s got to be a tough trail. wow. You really pulled through out there!

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  6. Nora says:

    Color me all kinds of impressed. I don’t know much at all about trail racing but this one seems crazy intense.

    My favorite race that I did was a 10k Halloween race. So many people dressed up, spectated and the energy was amazing. I would love to run another race but not sure it’s in the cards for me. I live vicariously through my awesome running friends 🙂

  7. LG says:

    Whoa – nice work! Hilarious selfie pic. :0)

  8. […] which of course was to be expected. I also did one race right at the beginning of the month: The Dirty Feet 25 km trail race in Vernon, which ironically made up almost half of my mileage for the whole […]

  9. […] ran my second race of the year – a very hilly and technical 25km trail race – in the […]

  10. […] Not going to lie. This run was tough. Me and my running partner actually think this run was harder mentally than our four hour 25km run in May! […]

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