Finishing third overall in last year's Whistler 50 Relay and Ultra was an "eye opener" for Peter Armistead.
"It was like, you know what? This is cool. I like doing this," the Whistler resident said.
"So I spent all of the winter and all of this summer practicing."
And the practice paid off — Armistead turned in a repeat performance at this year's Whistler 50 on Saturday, shaving nearly 15 minutes off of his 2013 showing for a second consecutive third-place finish.
"It feels really good... the field was pretty strong this year," Armistead said, shortly after posting a time of seven hours, 19 minutes and 19 seconds.
"I had some cramping issues in my calves. The third lap was quite rough for me, but when people are doing a 50 miler everyone's got something bad going on, so I'm not complaining... I got through it and it was fine."
But how do you force yourself to keep going when the pain kicks in?
"The same way you eat an elephant. Just one little bit at a time," Armistead said with a smile.
"You can't think about the end. If you think like, 'I've got 30 miles to go and I'm in pain at the moment,' you're just not going to do it... you really just have to focus on your breathing. Left foot, right foot, all the really easy, simple things, and that sort of gets you through the little setbacks."
But putting in ample training time helps as well — Armistead said his training consisted of hitting the Whistler trails for four or five hours at a time.
"It's as simple as that. There's no easy way of doing a 50 miler. You just need to get out there and get some miles under your feet," he said.
"I'm lucky I live in Whistler. It's pretty much the best place in the world... I've got some amazing terrain to play with, so there's absolutely no excuse for not getting out there and doing the training."
Vancouver's Roy Kok finished first overall in the 50-mile (80-km) solo with a time of 6:22:32.
"It felt good. I abandoned my strategy early and it just took off," Kok said after the race.
"I sort of fell apart a little bit in the fourth lap but I was able to keep running, and yeah, it just went really well. Everything came together perfectly. It was just such a great race."
Saturday's weather made for ideal running conditions, Kok said — a marked contrast from the consistent pouring rain on Friday.
"(Friday) I was really nervous, because that was nasty weather," he said.
"(This morning) there was a little bit of rain, just a quick shower, but I didn't even notice it to be honest... this weather is exactly what you want to run a fast race."
North Vancouver's Adam Way claimed second place with a time of 7:12:33.
West Vancouver's Tory Schultz posted the highest solo time among female competitors (7:40:12), while Whistler's Vicki Romanin (9:09:18) was second and Coquitlam's Hileray Kilback (10:12:07) third.
The Point Grey Royal Flush team continued its dominance over the eight-person relay, posting a time of 4:48:23 to take first place for the fourth consecutive year.
"It's something we circle on our calendars every year, and we look forward to it every year," said Nigel Hole, one of the Point Grey team members.
"Every year there's a few hiccups along the way... but we managed to pull it off, so it was good. Great event as always."
Ryan Brockerville, another member of the Point Grey team, ended up having to pull double duty, running two separate legs of the relay for his team.
"It sucks," he said with a laugh, shortly after finishing the race.
"I was really tired, but I had to do it. I had committed to it so I couldn't back out."
Vancouver team Very VFAC came second in the relay with a time of 5:24:23, while a team representing the Surrey Fire Service (Surrey Fire-1) finished third with a time of 5:25:13.
Full results can be found at www.startlinetiming.com.