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Whistler athletes on top in adventure race

Two Whistler athletes were among the first competitors down the mountain at the annual Sea to Summit adventure race last weekend, winning the co-ed Teams of Two race, and more significantly the Teams of Two race.

Two Whistler athletes were among the first competitors down the mountain at the annual Sea to Summit adventure race last weekend, winning the co-ed Teams of Two race, and more significantly the Teams of Two race. One half of that team, Nikki Kassle, was also the top female competitor, while the other half, Dave Burch, finished eighth overall – against some of the biggest names in adventure racing.

Kassle has raced the Sea to Summit twice before as a member of a co-ed team of four. Burch raced solo last year, finishing ninth overall.

"It went as good as it could have went," said Burch. "We’re always training hard, whether it’s the Sea to Summit race or not, but we paddled together to practise our technique, and did some runs up to the Roundhouse together to get ready. I train on my bike all the time and Nikki rides about four hours a day, and we knew we could do well on the bike sections."

The hardest part of the adventure, according to Burch, was the climb up Whistler on day two (Sept. 9).

"Physically, for me, the constant uphill was tough. It was getting to the point where my legs were getting to be pretty rubbery. I was pretty happy to see the Red Chair."

The orienteering earlier in the day was tough, and at one point Burch says he was wading in a swamp up to his waste to cut down on time. They ran to the end of the orienteering section, just ahead of the one hour cutoff point where teams are assessed time penalties.

Coming down Whistler Mountain was no picnic either, but with the finish line in sight, the pair got their second win.

"Every time we passed people they were cheering because Nikki was the first woman. That gave us a huge boost," Burch said.

Burch and Kassle were sponsored by the Fairmont Chateau Whistler and the Glacier Shop for the Whistler race. They want to represent Whistler at the last race of the four race series at Mont Sainte-Marie on Sept. 29, if they can find the sponsorship.

In the meantime, Burch and Kassle are back in training for the Samurai of Singletrack mountain bike race in Whistler this weekend, and the 19 th Annual Cheakamus Challenge Fall Class Mountain Bike Race from Squamish to Whistler on Sept. 22.

"I could barely walk up the stairs yesterday," Burch said on Tuesday. "I went for a ride though. Nikki’s already running again and riding her bike. She doesn’t stop."

Burch and Kassle finished the two-day, multi-stage race in 13 hours three minutes 58 seconds, over an hour ahead of the next team of two, Mark Gosney and Alan Anderson of Yelm, Washington, at 14:04:14, and almost an hour and half ahead of Diego Marchese and Denis Fontaine of Burnaby at 14:27:52.

The next co-ed team of two, Luc Girouard and Roxanne Ayotte of Vancouver, finished in 14:32:11. The third co-ed team of Ina Kerckhoff and Ryan Ervin of North Vancouver crossed the line in 14:42:03.

In the solo category, the top three men were Chris Christie of Garibaldi Highlands at 11:58:50, Dave Norona (2000 champion) of North Vancouver at 12:05:06 and Normon Thibault of Wellington, B.C. at 12:08:42.

The top Master man was Ron Carmichael of Bowen Island, who was 11th overall with a time of 13:33:22. Doug Doyle of Victoria was second in 13:40:56, and Rob Ashburner of Vancouver third in 14:30:20.

The top solo female was adventure race veteran Marg Fedyna of Edmonton, Alberta, with a time of 13:54:41. Carol Tickner of Victoria was second in 15:01:41, and Lisa Wolff of Edmonton was third in 16:51:50.

In the Teams of Four races, comprised of male, female and co-ed groups, the top men’s team was Team Turtle of West Vancouver, with a time of 14:15:13.

Team Dozer of Bothell, Washington, was second at 14:30:56. The Snipe Hunters, four men from Bellingham, Washington, was third in a time of 14:56:27.

The first co-ed team, Team Global Star Satellite Phones of Sacramento, California, finished the race in 15:04:42. Team Steeps-Yeti of Edmonton was second in 15:35:11. Team Hardchick was third at 15:47:25.

The first all-female team was Bear Essentials/The Runner’s Den from Coquitlam in 18:13:26. Sugar and Spice 2 of Vancouver was next in 20:59:30. The Cali Kids from Ann Arbor, Michigan, were third.

A total of 559 competitors started the race on the Saturday (Sept. 8), and 475 finished on Sunday. Competitors were unable to finish for a variety of reasons, including injuries, illness, exhaustion, and equipment failures.

Day one started with a 19 kilometre ocean kayak from Deep Cove and up Indian Arm. After paddling, competitors put their legs to work on a 55 km mountain bike stage with a 23 km climb, a 10 km downhill, and a mixture of roads and singletrack. The bike ride was followed by a 15 km (approximate) trek with a navigational component over rugged terrain, on and off the trails. Any missed checkpoints result in a time penalty.

Day two started with a 55 km mountain bike up the Cheakamus Canyon to the Whistler area. There, competitors participated in score orienteering, also known as "Rogaining."

This is followed by a six to 12 km trek on Whistler Mountain from Creekside base to the Whistler Village – the distance is determined by your route.

More details and the complete results are available at the official Web site at