The Golden Ultra was a success in its first year, hosting 155 runners who had almost nothing but positive things to say about the three-day event.
Going forward, organizer Magi Scallion hopes to attract 300 runners for the 2016 edition, believing that the positive experience from the runners in the first event will help raise awareness about the budding race.
“First year events, people don’t know what to expect. So if you give them a good experience, they’ll come back. Everyone who was thinking about it will actively seek out the feedback and will be more likely to attend as well,” organizer Scallion said.
While expanding and growing the Ultra remains a top priority for Scallion, she also has her sights set on an even bigger event: the World Mountain Running Championships. The 2015 championships were held in Wales and the annual race has been held across Europe throughout most of its history, with one foray into Malaysia in 1999 and another into New Zealand in 2005, where Scallion competed herself.
It has yet to be held in North America, but Scallion and the Canadian Trail and Mountain Running Association (CTMRA) are hoping that will change in 2018.
The idea for Golden to bid was presented to Scallion by the CTMRA, who have been looking to host the event in Canada for some time.
“We’ve already had preliminary discussions with the World Mountain Running Association and our understanding is that if we submit a bid, they will award the championships to Golden, so it’s kind of a gimme,” Scallion said.
Golden is seen as an ideal place to host the international event because of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, which would provide easy transportation from the base to the top of the mountain via the Golden Eagle Express gondola. Having that gondola access will be particularly important, as the 2018 race is scheduled to be an uphill-only event, as opposed to combined uphill and downhill events that take place on alternate years.
Golden has previously hosted the Canadian championships, which provided a good trial run for the town to host the Worlds.
“(The CTMRA) was blown away by Golden and by the opportunity of Kicking Horse because of the Gondola, the terrain and all that. They said this would be a perfect World Championship venue,” Scallion said.
A formal bid to host the race must be submitted by September of 2016.
The race itself would feature 350 world class athletes and 100 support staff from around the globe, as well as amateur enthusiasts who could participate in the less competitive race the day before the actual championships.
A large part of the event’s $300,000+ price tag is spent on supplying accommodation and food for the athletes. Scallion hopes that funding can come from a variety of sources.
“We need to secure some pretty significant funding through Via Sport, Hosting B.C., local fundraising and probably some corporate sponsorship as well,” Scallion said.
She also believes that the monetary benefit to Golden’s economy should justify that price tag.
“Based on my research on what happened in Wales this previous year, they saw about half a million dollars flowing into the community in the week surrounding the event. I would additionally have the Golden Ultra the weekend following the event…with that I expect a lot of teams would stay a bit longer and do the two events,” Scallion said.
Scallion presented her summary of the first annual Ultra as well as the possibility for Golden to host the World Championships at Council’s Nov. 17 meeting.
She also requested that Council put together a committee. Decisions regarding her request will be made at a future meeting.