Edward McCarthy shattered the course record in Sunday’s (Sept. 30) annual Rubble Creek Classic trail run, continuing his strong run of results in Whistler over the past couple of years.
The Vancouverite finished the 24.5-kilometre race in one hour 50 minutes 51 seconds, to beat Phil Villeneuve’s old mark from 2009 by almost six minutes.
“I love that course and doing that run,” said McCarthy. “I was pretty happy with how I felt and obviously very happy with that time.
“It’s always nice to be at the top of the podium.”
The podium has been a familiar place for McCarthy in recent Whistler races. He won the Comfortably Numb Trail Run in June and finished in the top three both years of the Whistler Half Marathon.
And at last year’s Rubble Creek Classic, McCarthy was overtaken by training partner Adam Campbell on the final stretch and was runner-up by just 17 seconds — in winter-like weather conditions that added to an already-challenging course.
“Last year was pretty epic. We kind of got everything up there last year,” recalled McCarthy. “This year, I was a little more lonely, but able to go a lot faster without all the wind and snow.”
McCarthy was the only runner to break the two-hour barrier on Sunday, though podium finishers Nick Elson (2:00:34) and Eric Carter (2:01:24) came close.
Whistler’s Ben Biswell (2:06:21) placed fourth for the best local finish on the course, which takes runners on a gruelling climb from the Cheakamus Lake trailhead, through the scenic Cinder Flats and Taylor Meadows, followed by a difficult descent to the Rubble Creek parking lot. It’s an elevation gain of more than 1,300 metres from the start, and a drop of nearly 1,800 m on the way to the finish.
“I was actually really pleased,” said Biswell. “This summer, I’ve been focusing on triathlon, so it was nice to feel like I can do good in just a sole running race as well.”
North Vancouver’s Marieve Legrand finished first among the two-dozen women’s entrants with a time of 2:24:15. Legrand, who was second in the Meet Your Maker 50-mile race in Whistler just a few weeks ago, won her second Rubble Creek Classic in the last three years.
“I love that race. I think it’s got all of the elements of trail running in all the right order for me,” laughed Legrand. “Some beautiful, technical trails, amazing scenery — and I love the fact that the really tough climb is right at the beginning. You know it’s going to get easier as you keep going and, psychologically, that’s perfect.”
Burnaby’s Kristina Rody, a former Whistlerite, was Legrand’s nearest challenger at 2:30:35, while Janet Lun (2:35:38) was third.
Several other local runners had solid results in Sunday’s run. Whistler’s Ashley McMillan (2:19:27) finished 12th while dropping more than 20 minutes off his time from last year. Kevin Hodder (2:26:29) was 15th overall, while Whistler’s Karen Norton was the sixth female to finish at 2:52:21.
The Rubble Creek Classic has been an early-autumn tradition in Garibaldi Provincial Park since 1985 and is now put on by Escape Route. With 60 finishers on Sunday, participation levels have remained constant, which Escape Route’s James Retty is glad to see.
“People love it. It’s just a fantastic way to finish the trail running season,” said Retty. “It’s such beautiful terrain.”
McCarthy agreed, saying he’s tried to convince more friends to come up from the Lower Mainland to race.
“I think that’s the nicest trail race course I know of in the northwest and I don’t know why more people don’t do it,” said Sunday’s winner. “It’s an awesome race and it really is a classic.”