Hosek tops first Spartan Race in Whistler 

Organizers pleased with inaugural Whistler event

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SPARTAN RACE - TOP DOG Ian Hosek came out on top at the inaugural Spartan Race here in Whistler on Sept. 14 and 15.
  • Photo courtesy of the Spartan Race
  • TOP DOG Ian Hosek came out on top at the inaugural Spartan Race here in Whistler on Sept. 14 and 15.

Ian Hosek overcame some wet conditions to win twice at Whistler's inaugural Spartan Race on Sept. 14 and 15.

The Idaho resident, who's currently 17th in Spartan's world rankings, was the top elite finisher in both the five-kilometre sprint and 13-km super races held at Whistler Blackcomb. In the super race, Hosek topped Shaun Stephens-Whale by one minute and 40 seconds (1:40).

With wet and rainy conditions on both days, Hosek said the key was staying consistent and tackling each obstacle one at a time. The sprint race boasts 20 obstacles while the super has 25, with stalwarts such as a spear throw and barbed wire crawl with climbing and lifting challenges thrown in.

Hosek said there were plenty of obstacles that were more difficult because of the slick rain.

"Everything was very standard to what I'm used to. The wet monkey bars are always challenging, or any of the grip obstacles, with that kind of rain we had up there, it definitely adds a new level of physicality," he said.

If Hosek had any gripe, it would be that the heavy lifting obstacles could have been longer and more challenging.

Hosek said the Whistler event was more challenging than several others he's experienced on the Spartan Race circuit, though he said it ranks among the top five venues he's taken on over the years. Hosek added he'd be happy to see the event come back to the resort in a future year.

"I love mountains and I've been to Whistler a few times over the years for mountain biking, or hiking, or trail running," he said. "The course itself really aligned with my strengths.

"The climb on Sunday during the super race, it definitely put you out of your comfort zone. It was more challenging than some of the other venues I've been to this year."

Hosek said that after a "rocky" start to the 2019 season, he was able to turn it around and make it a solid year overall. He was glad to get a challenge in Whistler with the World Championships in North Lake Tahoe, Calif. on Sept. 28 and 29.

"I didn't have the performances I was looking for [early]. Then summer came around and I started to find my stride. I've had good performances all summer leading into fall and championship season," he said. "[It was] finding my stride at the beginning of the year and dealing with the mental side of racing and finding what worked best for me.

"Once I found that comfortable place, I was able to replicate it at future events."

On the women's side in the elite super race, Jessica Lemon went away with the women's win, besting Ashley Heller by 2:22. Lemon's time was good enough for 10th overall.

Race director Jason Barnes said the first-ever foray into Whistler was, weather aside, a success, with more than 3,000 competitors signing up. It was a bit of a change in tack for the race series, which tends to stay closer to major metropolitan centres, he said.

"It's hard to judge what you're going to get when you go somewhere for the first time," he said. "Obviously, Whistler is pretty remote, meaning that we're not a 15-minute drive out of a major city or a major metropolitan area. It's obviously a destination venue."

Barnes said no decision has been made as to whether the race will return to Whistler in the future, but he said the first event was encouraging.

"It certainly gave us a really good foundation to build on," he said.

While there is a British Columbia event listed on the Spartan Race website for Sept. 19 and 20, 2020, the location is still listed as TBD.

"Talking to people as it finished and getting feedback from them, there's no doubt it was a huge success," Barnes said. "The course was super challenging, which is what I think most of our Canadian racers, whether they're first timers or veterans alike, expect." For complete results, visit www.spartan.com/en/race/detail/4994/results?fullResults=true.

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