Whistler runners swift in Five Peaks 

Off-road event comes to Whistler alpine in late August

The B.C. Five Peaks Trail Running Series continued last weekend with the third event at Mount Seymour. There was a strong turnout in both the 5 km Sport and 10 km Enduro categories, as runners tackled a challenging route around the Cabin Trail and Mystery Peak.

In the Sport category, Whistler’s J.P. McLeod was 14 th overall and third in the men’s 30 to 39 age group with a time of 35 minutes and 53 seconds.

In the same category, Dan MacLellan was sixth in 37:27, as well as 20 th overall out of 120 competitors.

Christine McLeod ws 52 nd overall and sixth in the women’s 30 to 39 race in 43:34.

On the Enduro Course Walter Wallgram was 29 th overall out of 176 racers, and eighth in the men’s 40 to 49 category in 1:12:30.

Jannie Grobler was 76 th overall and sixth in the men’s 50 to 59 race in 1:22:18.

Robert Tan was 125 th overall and 34 th in the 40 to 49 group in 1:37:43.

Heather Abernathy was 19ths overall and 15 th in the women’s 30 to 39 race in 1:39:26.

Grace Milne was 18 th in the same category with her time of 1:44:02.

There are two events remaining in the provincial Five Peaks series. The next event takes place on Whistler Mountain on Aug. 20 on an all-alpine course.

The Whistler race, which wasthe Canadian qualifying event for the World Mountain Running Championships in 2004 and 2002, is going to follow a different route this year.

Instead of an uphill grunt from Whistler Village to the Roundhouse Lodge the race will start and finish outside of the Roundhouse with 5 km and 10.5 km courses (approximate) in the surrounding alpine.

While the new course won’t feature the nearly 4,000 feet of climbing that made the past years’ events so difficult, the altitude and terrain should make things more than challenging for most competitors.

"The altitude is going to be really tough for people, that’s why we didn’t make it longer. It feels like it’s a lot longer than 10K," said Five Peaks organizer Mark Warsaba.

While the Whistler event has the reputation of being one of the hardest in the series, pre-registration is strong this year with 225 people already on the list. Warsaba, who says Five Peaks registration is about 35 per cent ahead of last year for the first three events, is expecting between 350 and 400 people for Whistler.

"(This year) has been phenomenal for us," Warsaba added. "People like the courses and the fact that there’s a Sport category as well as an Enduro category, and they like the fact that we’re getting back into real trail running where the terrain varies a bit, it’s not all uphill."

Because of the success of the bike park the event was almost moved to Lost Lake trails, but Whistler Blackcomb didn’t want to lose the race after eight years and suggested the use of the alpine route. While the race is not a huge money earner for the organizers or the mountains, Warsaba says the goal is to get people to Whistler and up the mountain.

"We’re bringing more people to Whistler and we’re bringing them to the Alpine," he said. "(Racers) are booking hotel rooms, their friends and family are coming with them, and we’re taking them somewhere that a few of them have probably never been before. It’s a good event for Whistler, and the runners are going to remember the views, the trails and how spectacular this race is."

The Enduro Course starts at the Roundhouse at 6,069 feet (1,850m), and follows the trail down to Harmony Lake, then climbs the Burnt Stew trail to the high point at Little Whistler Peak at close to 7,000 feet (2,115m).

From there the course heads The Saddle before cutting back under the ridge and across the glacier to Harmony Hut and the final descent back down to the Roundhouse.

The verical gain is roughly 1,575 feet (480m) for the Enduro Course and 1,050 feet (320m) for the Sport Course.

The route follows mainly gravel roads, with sections of trail, shale, rock and possibly snow.

While racers head to the alpine, the Scotia Bank Children’s Challenge race will take place at the base of the mountain.

Pre-registration is $35, including lift access, or $40 on the day of the event.

For more information or online registration visit www.5peaks.com .

The final event of the Five Peaks series takes place at Buntzen Lake on Sept. 24.

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