Cross-country couple wins at Whistler Spirit Run

Winter, Cliff claim men's and women's races at Olympic Park

Chris Winter and Rachel Cliff were on hand for Saturday's (Sept. 22) Whistler Spirit Run to honour Winter's old coach, but it was the cross-country-running couple that were honoured atop the podium.

Winter and Cliff, who are in a relationship, won the men's and women's open races, respectively, at Whistler Olympic Park to kick off a day of running events for all ages.

Winter finished the men's eight-kilometre course in 24 minutes, 42 seconds, more than a minute ahead of runner-up Sean Chester (25:53). Defending champ Kevin O'Connor (26:18) took third place.

Winter was formerly coached by Frank Reynolds - the late, esteemed track coach whose vision the Whistler Sprit Run was founded on - and the North Vancouver native was thrilled to be on hand for the fifth annual running festival.

"It's the first time I've been able to take part in this, and every year that went by, I just felt terrible about not doing it because Frank was a mentor, friend, second dad - all that," said Winter, who had scrawled 'Frank' on his left arm in black marker in a tribute to his former coach. "I definitely made it a priority to be here and made sure Rachel could come, too."

Cliff also secured a convincing victory in the six-km women's event, crossing the line in 20:21. North Vancouver's Chantelle Groenewoud (21:06) and Erica Digby (21:30) rounded out the women's podium.

"I've been training for the past month and didn't know how I would feel, but I was feeling really good right from the beginning and held it together," said Cliff.

In the unofficial open division results, Whistler's top male finisher was Jon Decaigny (32:55) in eighth place, while Aimee Decaigny (30:12) was 20th in the women's race for the quickest Whistler time.

Races were ongoing at Olympic Park on Saturday afternoon. Check www.whistlerspiritrun.com for full results shortly after the event concludes, and see Thursday's (Sept. 27) edition of The Question for a complete wrap.

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