You truly have to be prepared for everything.
And that means if you're doing the Salomon Valley to Peak Race, you do have to be ready for a little snow in early September.
That was a major message from both overall winners, as Anne-Marie Madden captured the women's division for the second consecutive year, while Squamish's Nick Elson ran away with the men's win in his first time entering the race.
While snow had fallen on the peak in the days before the race, it was mostly gone by the time runners were coming on. On race day, Sept. 3, however, there were a few flurries sprinkling down to replace it.
While Madden had pondered wearing gloves, she ultimately eschewed them. Bringing them along is about all she'd have done differently.
"I really enjoyed the weather. Obviously, on clear days, you get the beautiful views and that's always appreciated. But this cooler, mistier weather I find is always more pleasant to race in. You don't overheat," she said. "At one point, coming around the High Note Trail, I was going 'Is this snow? Or is this mist or rain?'
"It was quite beautiful, very West Coast."
Elson, meanwhile, enjoyed battling through the bluster.
"It was actually good in a lot of ways. It wasn't too hot. If anything, it was a little bit on the chilly side," he said. "It was kind of nice, to be honest. I don't like the heat."
Madden, a Vancouver resident, was challenged more this year than last, when she won by roughly 10 minutes. This year, local Claire Daniels was hot on Madden's tail, finishing 59 seconds back.
"It was pretty foggy so it was kind of hard to tell who was around you. I was running with a few men and I could see that Claire was not too far behind. When we'd hit switchbacks and stuff, I realized she was definitely close. I couldn't see (third-place finisher) Kim (Magnus), but I just kept running my own race. Right at the final ascent up to the peak, because it's pretty steep, I could tell she was pretty close. Once I got to the top, I decided I really had to let it rip," Madden said. "I picked it up on the downhill for sure. I did have a peek behind me and realized there was a bit of a gap and I just kept going.
"It was pretty exciting to feel like it was a close race and feel you had someone pushing you from behind."
This year's race was extended by roughly three kilometres as competitors ran back to the Roundhouse Lodge after reaching the peak. Madden appreciated the change, especially on the more frigid day, as competitors were more inclined to hang out at the finish line and cheer on other competitors.
"We don't have that many climbs in Canada. I think it was a great idea to have the 3K descent because it's just more comfortable at the finish line," she said.
Elson, meanwhile, relegated fellow Squamish runner Eric Carter to runner-up status for the second consecutive year. The two were neck and neck through the first two sections of the course, but after passing the Roundhouse on the way up, Elson made his move and bested his friend by about four minutes in the end. Brendan Urlocker was third, about 25 minutes off the pace.
"We (Eric and I) started together and ran to the Roundhouse, which was about halfway through the race. I felt pretty comfortable. I'm a little faster than Eric on the more technical (parts). There are a couple little downhill sections by the Roundhouse just off of the High Note Trail, so that's where I was able to make up a little gap on Eric there," he said. "The more technical stuff, the downhills and the faster running is where I'm maybe a little stronger than Eric, so that's where I pushed it."
On the men's side, Carter won the 29-and-under division, Roy Kok took the 40-to-49 event and Terry Bremner captured the 50-plus crown. As for the women, Jeanelle Hazlett was the 29-and-under champ, Charlotte Paul topped all comers in the 40-to-49 division and Marcia Marchenski emerged as the top 50-plus runner. In the relay event, High Running came out as the open mixed champions.
Full results are available at www.whistlerblackcomb.com.
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