If they were this fast to the finish line, you have to wonder how long the engagement was.
With perfect racing conditions on Sunday, a married couple from Invermere claimed the men's and women's solo titles in the second annual Meet Your Maker 50, a 50-mile (roughly 83km) trail run around Whistler. There was also a relay category.
The course was tough with around 4,500 vertical metres of climbing over seven stages, including most of Comfortably Numb, a climb up to the alpine of Blackcomb Mountain and, after five stages of ups and downs, all of mid-Flank from Function to the Rainbow Park hiking trail.
Jakub Sumbera, the husband in the team, got off to a fast start against the likes of Adam Campbell (first in the Squamish 50 two weeks earlier and the Whistler 5 Peaks run the previous week), Aaron Heidt (record holder on the Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run), American 100-mile champion Jorge Maravilla and Squamish's Jason Louttit (first in the 2012 Squamish 50, second in 2013).
Even more impressive, neither Sumbera or his wife, Nadyia Fry, had raced a solo ultra before, although the two traded legs at the 148km Sinister 7 race this year.
"That was hard," said Sumbera after the race, drinking pop to get his blood sugar levels back up.
"I chose this trail run because of Phil (Villeneuve, the second-place finisher in last year's event) after he wrote a pretty good article on his blog last year about the experience."
Sumbera said the best part of the race was the singletrack, he wished there was more of it. "Comfortably Numb was definitely my favourite part, there were a lot of rocks to jump down and lots of twists and turns," he said. "I also liked stage seven, the first part of it anyway, because of all the trails. I'd pick trails over the road section at the end any day, you just don't feel as tired."
His worst section was stage six, which was mid-Flank. "I just walked up the whole climb, I was feeling pretty bad by then and regretting not eating more at the last aid station. I only grabbed some water, when I should have grabbed a few gels."
Sumbera said he was running his own race after the third leg, the climb up Blackcomb Mountain.
"It was a fast start and I was running in the second group with Aaron Heidt, and then on Comfortably Numb I caught up to Adam Campbell, and later I caught up to Jason (Louttit). I saw a few people climbing up the ski hill, but after that I was on my own except for the Salomon relay team."
Sumbera said that he enjoyed the experience overall, and while he isn't certain whether he'll switch to ultra running from shorter distance races he's already planning to run the Squamish 50 next summer. "I've heard good things, that there's a lot of singletrack on that one as well, and it's a chance to see some different trails."
Sumbera finished with a total time of seven hours, 38 minutes and 19 seconds, which is a course record and almost an hour faster than the time posted by Mike Murphy in 2012. He was fourth after the first leg, posted the fastest second leg by over two minutes and built up a huge lead over the next few stages — another 30 seconds on the third leg, then close to five minutes on the downhill run from the Peak 2 Peak gondola on Whistler Mountain to Creekside. He put another three minutes on the completion on the fifth leg, up Big Timber and over Kadenwood into the Interpretive Forest.
Sumbera had close to 14 minutes on Adam Campbell heading into the sixth leg, but Campbell gained back almost six minutes and finished in 7:46:07.
For Campbell, who won the Squamish 50 only three weeks earlier and raced 5 Peaks last weekend, it was hard to find the energy it would have taken to bridge the gap with Sumbera.
"I'm tired, that's for sure," he said. "That's not to take anything away from Jakub, he ran a beautiful race — that was some world-class running. You never know what it is, but some days guys will just run a perfect race and there's nothing you could do about it. I don't know if I could have beat him on my best day, much less after a few hard weeks of racing."
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