Banzai and Ski Tak Hut Tsunami finished first and second respectively at the Royal LePage Comox Valley Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race — duplicating last year’s result but in considerably slower times on a blustery Sunday.
The Banzai open men’s team completed the nine-person, eight-stage race from Mount Washington to the Comox Marina in 3:38:45, winning for the 19th time in the 31-year history of the event. Ski Tak Hut, competing in the masters men’s division (minimum age 30), crossed the finish line in 3:43:38.
“It was an exciting race because it traded back and forth between leads,” said Ron Williams, 72, a Banzai canoeist who underwent hip replacement surgery last year.
His team was five minutes behind at one point.
“Then we moved to third or fourth, and we held that all the way to the kayak leg,” said Williams, a Victoria resident. “Then we moved up to second, and our awesome biker moved into first and we were able to stay there.”
Banzai had several personnel changes this year, including two returnees from the team’s first year: Steve Royer and Glen Bond from Vernon. The latter came back after about a seven-year hiatus for the cross-country ski portion.
“He had a great race,” said Banzai team captain Bill Brett, Williams’ canoeing partner who has 20 Snow to Surf wins under his belt. “He was one of my original guys for the team. He had two kids and now he’s back.”
Banzai thanks team sponsors Flying Canoe and Comox Valley Nissan.
The event starts at the top of the Whiskey Jack Chairlift, from where the first team member climbs to Eagle Chair and then skis to the nordic transition. The cross-country skier passes through Paradise Meadow and tags the snowshoer on Strathcona Parkway. A runner then tags a mountain biker at Duncan Bay Main where he or she exchanges with a kayaker at the Fish and Game Club. Kayakers cross Comox Lake to Cumberland Lake Park Beach, from where cyclists pedal to the canoe interchange at the Air Park. From the boat launch, the canoeists paddle to the marina and ring the bell at the finish.
The North Island Tanks men’s team was third in 3:47:10, the Waverley Warriors were the top open mixed team and placed fourth overall in 3:50:22 and the Tri Kinetics masters men’s team was fifth in 3:52:03.
“We used to come here and race, and we won it three times. That was back in the early-90s,” said Tri Kinetics member Phil Montgomery of Victoria. “And then we all got together, all us old guys came back about five years ago, finished fifth overall and won the masters division. So we decided to do it one more time, six years later. We’ve been at it for almost 30 years on and off. Love it.”
Rounding out the top 10 were KMA, Team Kona Hostel, Strathcona Park Lodge, Trail Bicycles and Strathcona Domination. The latter was third overall last year as a junior team.
For more information and results visit www.snowtosurf.com.