Brad Crowe is all smiles despite the gruelling climb in Whistler. Photo supplied

Comox Valley trail runners tackle Whistler courses

A contingent of local trail runners took on the challenging Whistler Alpine Meadows (WAM) races last month in Whistler. There were a number different races including 25km, 110k and 100 miles.

Brad Crowe took on the daunting 100-mile race which included two ascents of Whistler mountain and one of Blackcomb for a total elevation gain of 9,500 metres or 31,500 feet — higher than the peak of Mt. Everest. The WAM website describes the 100-mile race as, “Hands down, all at once the most stunning ultra in Canada and the most challenging race in the country; in fact it ranks right up there as one of the toughest 100’s on the continent.”

The racers had the pleasure of running 11 km longer than advertised for a total of 171 km. That, combined with running at altitude, made what race director Gary Robbins warned was an extremely difficult “graduate level” course that challenged even the most experienced Ultra runners. Of 108 starters, 78 finished. In spite of the gruelling terrain and some physical ailments, Crowe finished in 35 hours and a solid 31st-place finish in his first 100-mile race. He describes two of the highlights as seeing the moon crest as he hit the peak of Whistler the first time, and seeing the sunrise as he summited the second time. But the top highlight was seeing the finish line.

Local ironman Jonathan Noel completed another utramarathon in his busy racing season. He completed the WAM 110k course, which measured closer to 117k with summits of Whistler and Blackcomb, and an elevation gain of 6.100 metres, in 17:32 for eighth-place overall. Noel was joined by local veteran ultra runner Graham Forsyth, who was still feeling the effects of an injury suffered in the 125k Death Race in Grand Cache, Alta. He wisely cut his adventure short after nine hours when his injury flared.

Not to be outdone by the mountain men, Lauren Baerg tackled the 25 WAM race in an impressive debut at trail racing, finishing in 3:32 She ran on a gnarly course that was included in the finishes of the 100 mile and 110 km courses. Look for more great results from Lauren in the future as she gains experience in the trail running scene.

Next up on the racing scene for Comox Valley Runners are the Goodlife Fitness races in Victoria on Thanksgiving weekend. Numerous locals will be participating in the 8k, half marathon and marathon races. Faces to watch are Janet Green, who will be completing her 400th marathon, and Roz Smith, who will be attempting the Canadian record for the women’s 70-74 age group. Results will be found at racedaytiming.ca.

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