Two Whistler riders are taking on the punishing La Ruta de los Conquistadores in Costa Rica, a four-day stage race from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea.
Mike Charuk has won the Masters B title for the past two years against a tough field of veteran riders and racers, and is back for a third year.
Sarah O'Byrne, riding for Australia, is taking on the course for the first time.
The race got underway on Wednesday, Nov. 11 and wraps up on Saturday, Nov. 14. The course covers close to 400 km of ground, but what makes the days so long is the sheer amount of vertical - over 12,000 metres of ascending and descending volcanoes from start to finish, which works out to close to 10,000 feet of climbing per day.
You can follow the race online at http://larutadelosconquistadores.com/info/.
Speed skaters on pace in Berlin
Despite injuries last season to some of Canada's top speed skaters, the team is in great shape heading into the Olympics, with athletes on or close to the podium in every event at the Short Track World Cup events in Montreal and Long Track events in Berlin.
In Montreal, Canadians struggled out of the gate on the first day with 225 skaters representing 35 countries, one of the largest fields ever at a speed skating event, as the race is on to claim Olympic quota spots.
The Canadians cruised through the qualifiers for the most part to improve their medal chances greatly.
Charles Hamelin had the best day on Saturday with two gold medals, one in the 500 metres and another in the 1,500 metres - the second World Cup gold medal in the 1,500 ever won by a Canadian skater. On the women's side Kalyna Roberge won silver in the 500-metre race.
"It's incredible," said Hamelin. "Every time I step on the ice it's to win, but to get out of this with two gold medals I couldn't ask for more and I'm completely satisfied."
Roberge's race was one of the most exciting of the day, as she held the lead at one point ahead of World Cup champion Wang Meng of China after a daring inside pass. Wang took the lead back in the next lap, but Roberge dogged her to the finish line with a hometown crowd cheering her on.
Valerie Maltais and Roberge also raced in the B Final of the 1,500-metre race, placing 11 th and 12 th respectively.
On Sunday, Hamelin added a bronze medal in the 1,000-metre race to his medal haul for the weekend. At one point it looked like he could have taken his third gold medal but some aggressive outside passing by the other skaters left him in heavy traffic in the sprint to the finish and he had nowhere to go.
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