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Brandywine Boogie returns to Cheakamus

The sixth annual Brandywine Boogie took place on Saturday after missing last year due to the pandemic
Brandywine Boogie
Racers hit the trail at the start of the sixth annual Brandywine Boogie on Saturday, Sept. 18.

“Three, two, one, boogie.” Those were the words spoken by Rotary Millennium member Hannah Edleston as she kicked off the sixth annual Brandywine Boogie in Cheakamus on Saturday, Sept. 18.

After not being able to run last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers of the race like Edleston and race director Thomas Christensen could not be happier to be running it again, even if they were a little bit concerned about what the conditions would be like after more than 50 millimetres of rain fell the day before.

“It’s just so ... well, it’s fantastic. I’m just trying to find a better word than that. It’s just nice to get back to some kind of normal and be able to really gather outside and take advantage of the amazing resources available here in Whistler,” said Christensen.

“We were a little bit nervous about the wetness because the first two [kilometres] on Trash are pretty technical. But we are ecstatic considering what we had the last 36 hours to wake up to pretty much blue sky this morning. We had about five or 10 minutes of a bit of rain to start with, but people are ecstatic, they love the race. I don’t think it could have gone any better, to be honest.”

Approximately 100 people came out for the nine-kilometre race from Bayly Park in Cheakamus down the Valley Trail, ending in the Cal-Cheak Campground.

Outside of the beautiful scenery the race offers, one of the big draws of the run for many people is how 100 per cent of the proceeds go to charity, with racers even being able to choose where part of their entry fee goes.

Fifty per cent of the money raised goes to the Rotary club, but racers can choose between three organizations for the other 50 per cent, including the Whistler Off-Road Cycling Association (WORCA), the Rotary Youth Exchange and Zero Ceiling, a non-profit that supports at-risk youth with employment and a place to live.

The other draw for some racers like overall winner Michael Murdoch is the short, predominantly downhill nature of the course.

“I like the short distance of it,” he said. “Usually trail runs are up to 22-plus [kilometres], so a shorter one gets the cadence going a little better, plus this is quite a flat course, actually it’s more descending than climbing but I like the flatness of it.”

For Murdoch, who has now won the last three Brandywine Boogies, finishing first again didn’t come as much of a surprise to him, seeing as how that was his goal from the start. But the same can’t be said for the winner of the women’s side Louise O’Brien, who was a last-minute entry and had no expectations of winning, but just wanted to do her part to support the race and local charities.

“My husband, joking this morning, said ‘are you going to win?’ And I laughed at him,” said O’Brien. “But it was just a fun day. It’s awesome, they pulled this together with very little help and it’s a small team and they do an amazing job every year and it’s just so great they were able to put it on when so many events got cancelled.”

For winning the men’s and women’s side of the race, Murdoch and O’Brien each received a Helly Hansen winter jacket, while the second and third place runners received a gift bag filled with items such as T-shirts and water bottles.

There were also spot prizes given away at random after the race, including things like clothing, gym memberships, hotel stays and golf passes, among others, all donated by local businesses and organizations.

Christensen describes the Brandywine Boogie as a “good introduction to trail running” for anyone who hasn’t done much off-road running before, which makes this race a perfect fit for youth runners like 10-year-old Tycho McCurley who raced for the first time with his dad Vincent and his older brother Aaron.

Vincent and Aaron, 14, have run the race twice before already, but now that they all have been able to run it together, and enjoyed their time doing so, it might just become a yearly father-son outing for the McCurleys.

“It’s great. It’s such a variation in terrain, it keeps things really interesting and there’s some beautiful sections. There’s this one section where it’s kind of downhill and opens up and there’s all these amazing rock structures on one side and beautiful trees. It’s hilly, different terrains, it goes by the river, [winding] bits, uphill, downhill, it’s got a little bit of everything, it’s gorgeous,” said Vincent before addressing his youngest son who was all smiles after completing the race.

“What do you think, Tycho? Yeah, I think we’ll make it a family tradition.”