In a year of firsts for the Royal LePage Comox Valley Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race, the big question is: Who finished first?
Due to confusion at the finish line Sunday afternoon, an official winner had not been declared as the Record went to press. But race chairperson Rick Gibson said it appears as if North Island Tanks out of Victoria will be the 2015 overall champions.
Putting the “adventure” in the 33rd edition of the event, three legs were changed, one was cancelled, a new timing system malfunctioned, and a collision with a vehicle sent a road cyclist to hospital.
This year’s mountain-to-marina race was the first to have no snow on Mount Washington.
“There was one year when the alpine skiers had to carry their skis part way up then ski down,” Gibson recalled.
This year’s alpine and Nordic ski legs, along with the snowshoe leg, were turned into running events. Bill Brett of the Island Honda Banzai said organizers did a good job handling the changes.
Teams followed the usual mountain bike, kayak and road bike legs, but the stiff winds that had race officials worried in the morning never abated.
Seven canoes launched from the Courtenay boat ramp on the final leg to the finish line at Comox Marina Park, and four tipped. At that point the Coast Guard cancelled the leg (for only the fourth time in race history, Gibson noted). “It’s all safety. It’s just a race. Safety is far more important.”
A few canoes completed the trip to the marina, with Jaden Dinney of the Waverley Warriors the first to hit land and ring the bell.
That was all for naught as organizers had switched the official finish line to a tent by the rhodo garden at the Courtenay Air Park. The road bikers handed the armband to the canoeists, who sprinted the final few metres.
The problem was congestion at the finish point. “Teams were coming through that weren’t racing, but bibs were reported as crossing the finish line,” Gibson said. “I’m not sure how we’re gonna solve it. We’ve had all kinds of problems in 33 years, but this is the first time we’ve had this one.”
As for the injured cyclist, he is believed to be Stephan Price of the Tombstones. “I know he’s doing well,” said Gibson.
The incident occurred around 1 p.m. on Cliffe Avenue by Sunwest RV, with ambulance and police attending.
“It was not our fault or responsibility in any way,” Gibson emphasized. Another road bike incident saw Banzai’s Don Gilmore go off course, correct his mistake, then be given the wrong directions by the marshal.
Despite that, Banzai still had the lead going into the canoe, but again all for naught as the team was disqualified for going off course.
“It was a very tough call,” said Gibson. “He missed the corner due to the fact the marshal wasn’t there, which is unfortunate.
“But the reality is if they’d been on the course in the first place they would have followed the route.”
Another first were complaints from competitors.
“We had two or three teams very angry, which we’ve never had before. They felt they didn’t get what they paid for, a snow to surf race. And they felt for the price they paid they should have had all their legs and have their results automatically. We can only do what we can do,” Gibson said.
“I think overall everybody was very, very happy. We were trying to develop [a timing system] which had some insurmountable challenges that we don’t even know yet what caused the problem. Our first goal is to get some results in shape so we can close off this year.”
When finalized, results will be posted at snowtosurf.com