Mount Robson Marathon
07 September 2019
Feel that even breathing and your heart start to pound. Runners line up annually for the Mount Robson Marathon— an impressive feat that takes athletes along a 44 km (27 mi) out-and-back route along the world-famous Berg Lake Trail. You’ll climb 825m (2,706 ft) over the first 21 km (13 mi) to the turn around point, and you’ll be greeted by spectacular views all along the way. Valemount is the nearest community to Mount Robson Provincial Park. Nestled in a valley between three spectacular mountain ranges – the Cariboo Mountains to the west, the Monashee Mountains to the south and the Rocky Mountains to the east and north – Valemount is the proud host of the Mount Robson Marathon. The half marathon takes racers along the Robson River to the shores of Kinney Lake. The turn-around point is on a broad outflow plain below the towering slopes of Mount Robson. Although runners will be halfway to Berg Lake, they will encounter less than 1/4 of the elevation gain of the full marathoners. The half marathon has an elevation gain of about 180m/600ft over the 10.55km distance to the turn-around point. Most of the elevation gain is spread evenly along the 4km between the Berg Lake Trailhead and Kinney Lake. There are only two short sections (perhaps 200m each) of what could be considered steep uphill. The Berg Lake Trail is the most heavily used backcountry trail in the Canadian Rockies, with over 2,000 overnight users each year. The trail is very well maintained, and is mostly hardpacked ground with very few exposed roots or protruding rocks. Mount Robson Provincial Park, the second oldest park in British Columbia’s park system, is truly one of the world’s crown jewels. The mountain for which the park is named guards the park’s western entrance. At 3,954 meters, Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, towers over the lesser surrounding peaks; winter or summer, this is one of the finest views in the Rocky Mountains. Just as the early trappers, hunters and explorers felt in awe at the mountain’s magnificence, travelers today experience the same feelings.
Start at Mount Robson Visitor Centre. 2km flat paved road to Berg Lake trailhead (aid station, 15m elevation gain in 2km). Mostly gradual climb along Robson River through cedar rain forest to Kinney Lake picnic area (aid station, 160m elevation gain in 4km). Short up and down section followed by a flat section along the shore of Kinney Lake to Kinney Lake campground (aid station, no elevation gain in 3km). Gentle incline through coniferous forest onto the gravel flats of the Robson River where the half marathoners turn around ( 20m elevation gain in 1.25km).
The half marathon takes runners up the Robson River past Kinney Lake to the flats where the river drains into the lake. Whitehorn peak is visible from the flats.