Locals strong in Squamish ultra marathon 

Whistler marathon racer wins women’s race

Ultra-trail racing made its debut in Squamish on Aug. 11 with the first running of STORMY – a foot race around the 67 kilometre Test of Metal mountain bike course.

Twenty-three runners took part in the inaugural race, which started at 6 a.m. and tackled over 4,000 feet of vertical gain. Only two runners didn’t finish the full race, but both completed the half race.

A lead group of four racers were neck and neck for the first 35 km, when former Whistler resident Rich Rawling, now of West Vancouver, pulled away on nine-mile hill (also known as ‘bonk’ hill). Rawling crossed the finish line in 5 hours 48 minutes and 39 seconds to take the overall win and the men’s under 40 category.

Ean Jackson (40 to 49) of North Vancouver was second at 5:53:21, and Torval Mork (under 40) of Anmore was third at 6:09:19.

Imre Sorban (50 to 59) of Squamish was the first local to cross the line, in fifth place with a time of 6:38:06. Other Squamish finishers were Chris Christie (under 40) in eighth at 6:45:12, Paul Cubbon (under 40) at 7:22:12, Murray Gilchrist (under 40) at 7:26:03, Mae Palm (women’s over 60) in 7:30:49, Margaret Paxton (women’s under 40), at 7:37:51, and Dan Stiner (50 to 59) at 9:04:37.

Palm used the race as a warm-up for the Iron Man triathlon in Penticton in two weeks.

Whistler’s only entry was Michelle Kaminski, who was the top woman in the race, and at 26 years old, the youngest competitor. She finished 13 th overall with a time of 7:17:46.

"I’ve run marathons, but never an ultramarathon," says Kaminski, a self-employed massage therapist and acupuncturist who runs Healing Hands. "This is the longest race I’ve ever done.

"It was enjoyable. I love being in the mountains, and on the trails, it was beautiful. I love hill climbs, getting to the top."

You don’t get as tired when you’re in that kind of environment, she says. "You can feel the energy of the earth, and that gives you that extra burst of energy when you need it."

Kaminski has raced in the Five Peaks Trail Running Series in the past, and says she will try to conquer more peaks in the future. She will run the Honolulu marathon again in the fall, and is looking into participating in the X-Terra off-road triathlon series, and an endurance race in India.

Many of the racers said they would be back next year, and organizers of the STORMY thanked the volunteers who made the race possible. There were no injuries or emergencies, and spirits were high at the celebration party at the Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company.

The second Saturday in August will become the annual date for STORMY, with the 2002 race scheduled for Aug. 10.

To get on the e-mail list for next year’s race, send an e-mail to pjcubbon@mntn.net.

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