Whistler Spirit Run tests runners of all ages 

The 2010 cross-country skiing venue is the epicentre of cross-country running in B.C. on Sept. 27-28, as Whistler Olympic Park plays host to the first Whistler Spirit Run.

The two-day race includes a classic cross-country race on Saturday, with elementary schools, high schools, universities and members of the public taking part.

Kids in Grades 2 and 3 will run a 1 km course, kids from Grades 4 to 6 will run a 3 km course, and Grades 7 and 8 will run 4.5 km. High school women will run 5 km, and high school men 7 km. The varsity male athletes and open men will run 8 km, and the varsity female athletes and open women will run 6 km.

On Sunday, there is a separate 10 km open trail run with a mass start, followed by a 10 km relay with four runners each doing 2.5 km.

“There’s a tremendous appetite for this kind of running and racing, especially on trails like these which provide a nice alternative to the more extreme cross country races,” said organizer Ashley Weber. “For kids, it’s a chance to be introduced to the sport and have fun doing it. For an adult who has done road running and wants to try something different, these are rolling trails in a unique and beautiful setting.”

Now that construction is complete on most of the facilities in Whistler Olympic Park, Olympic organizers are encouraging others to bring events to the Callaghan Valley. This particular race is put on by the Callaghan Valley Sport and Cultural Society, which hopes to get up to 300 runners from Vancouver, and the Sea to Sky corridor out this weekend.

The event is also being run in honour of Frank Reynolds, a track and field coach from Vancouver who passed away two years ago after dedicating his life to the sport and to coaching runners.

There will be ribbons for the top three finishers in the junior events, and the elementary school or junior club with the most participation will win a Run, Jump, Throw clinic for their school. The high school or club with the most runners will receive a cash award to cover participation costs.

For more information or registration, visit www.whistlerspiritrun.com.

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