The wettest Whistler Spirit Run on record will also go down as the best attended, as organizers of the sixth annual event expected to reach a new high total of participants despite Sunday's (Sept. 29) downpour at Whistler Olympic Park.
Chris Winter and Rachel Cliff both repeated as champions in the men's and women's open races on Sunday. Winter won the men's 8-km race in a time of 26 minutes, 14 seconds, while overall runner-up Kevin O'Connor (27:09) claimed the men's masters title.
"I'm coming off a long track season and then a couple of weeks of down time, so this is my first real run back," said Winter, who competed for Canada at the IAAF World Championships this summer. "I felt good for the first four K, then the hills started getting to me and the little bit of altitude — we're at 3,000 feet here — (did, too). So the last couple Ks were a good grind … but overall it was a lot of fun."
Ian Searle was the third male finisher overall, coming in ahead of David Palermo and Devin Rajala, who rounded out the top five.
Cliff took top spot in the women's 6-km open event, stopping the clock in 21:23 to win by 13 seconds over Canadian Olympian Hilary Stellingwerff.
"The whole second lap I was pushing and I kept trying to put a gap on (her)," said Cliff. "It was nice to have her here — we train together in Guelph, so it's nice to see her again."
Alecia Kallos (23:37) grabbed the final women's podium spot overall, crossing the line ahead of Jen Moroz and Rachel McCormick. Lynn Kanuka, best known for winning a bronze medal for Canada in 3,000 m at the 1984 Olympics, won the masters race.
Shorter youth races were ongoing throughout the day Sunday as well, with a number of local runners recording strong finishes.
Whistler runners occupied three of the top four spots in the high school girls' (17-and-under) 4-km race. Cass Deane finished second with a time of 19:09, while Lauren Doak was a close third and Chantal Deane placed fourth.
Locals were among the top finishers in the junior high boys' (15-and-under) race as well, with Michael Murdoch and Manu Elorza placing fifth and sixth, respectively.
At the elementary school level (12-and-under), Pemberton's Joe Davies placed third in the boys' race and J.J. Deane finished sixth in the girls' event.
Peter Diemer, chair of the Whistler Spirit Run board, said final numbers weren't available Sunday afternoon, but the annual running festival was poised to set a new record for participation.
"It will be our largest event, ever," said Diemer. "We've had great turnout. I think when you see repeat champions come back like Chris Winter and Rachel Cliff, and win again, it really sets the standard, because both of those athletes have competed for Canada and represented the country on an international level."
Full results are posted at www.racedaytiming.ca. See more in Thursday's (Oct. 3) edition of The Question and see our video coverage below.