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Citta Challenge turns 20

Sold-out event created for hospitality industry

If you're one of the many Whistler locals who works on weekends, you've probably missed out on many of the major events in the community over the years.

But the Citta Challenge, which turns 20 this year, has always been about locals in the hospitality industry where Wednesday is as good as Saturday.

This year's relay event takes place on June 22, with 21 teams of five taking part - four relay racers and a coach. The first stage is an 8 km run around the Whistler Golf Course and onto Wayside Park for the first skill testing challenge. The next stage involves two members paddling a canoe across Alta Lake and down the River of Golden Dreams to Edgewater. From there, after a second test of skills, the last member of the team jumps on a mountain bike and rides an 18 km course in Lost Lake before heading to the finish in the village.

Some teams are in it to win, but most of the teams - representing bars, restaurants, grocery stores, hair salons and others - are in it for fun. The skill challenges also level the playing field somewhat, and teams can shave a lot off their time by doing something unusual - past tests include everything from bobbing for hotdogs to tossing and catching water balloons.

At the finish there is a barbecue for teams and volunteers, with reggae stars Soul Survivor playing the Citta's patio.

The race gets underway at 10:30 a.m. and most teams are finished by 2 p.m. The patio will be opened to the public at 3 p.m., with the party winding down at 6 p.m. At that point most of the people celebrating in strange costumes will be gone and Citta will reopen as usual.

"It's really one of the longest running local events," said Citta general manager Scott Gadsby. "Most of the ski races are gone, some of the golf tournaments. Twenty years is a pretty big milestone.

"It's not about winning, it's just a day of fun in Whistler with three things that are fun to do, the fourth thing being the après on the patio."