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Carter, Magnus win Valley to Peak

Whistler's Daniels takes second among women

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Two fixtures on The North Face Valley to Peak podium finally finished on top of it on Sept. 2.

On the men's side, in the full 22.5-kilometre race up Blackcomb Mountain, after two years of finishing in second, Squamish's Eric Carter finally ascended to the top step after separating himself from 2015 champion Shaun Stephens-Whale, eventually beating the Roberts Creek resident by seven minutes and 11.14 seconds (7:11.14) while fellow Squamish resident Mike Murphy took third.

"I knew the course and it's a really nice course. Whistler is quite beautiful and the uphill nature of the race suits me quite well," he said. "Most races are loops and start and finish at the same spot, so you do as much downhill as you do uphill but the Valley to Peak is majority uphill, so it works really well for me."

Carter said he and Stephens-Whale were neck and neck for about the first hour, but he put some distance between them in the latter stages.

"We ran together for the first, basically, half of the race. We ran together until the Roundhouse, so we were pushing each other for the climb up to there," he said. "Then there were a couple short little downhills and I was able to open up a little bit of a gap as we climbed up the peak.

"In the second half of the race, I was by myself looking over my shoulder for him."

After runners experienced cooler temperatures and even snow at higher elevations in previous years, the heat played a role in this year's event as temperatures topped 30 degrees Celsius.

Carter acknowledged he prefers cooler weather but women's winner Kim Magnus was happy for the hotter temperatures, as she thrived when others wilted in the sun.

"The weather was perfect for me," the Vancouver resident said. "It was a little hot for others, but I like to run in a little bit hotter weather."

Magnus acknowledged she didn't have golden dreams entering the race, as she felt fatigued lining up at the start.

"I thought, 'I did the course last year and it's beautiful, so worse comes to worst, I have a nice, long hike in the mountains,'" she reasoned. "Once my legs woke up, I really like switchbacks for some reason, so running up the switchbacks started to feel really good after about 10 minutes or so."

In taking the win, Magnus leapfrogged Claire Daniels of Whistler, who was the runner-up for the second year in a row. Magnus said she fell behind Daniels early, but kept a steady pace and was able to make a pass midway and eventually win by just over six minutes. Whistler's Hannah Kitchin took third, about 35 minutes back.

Daniels said she suffered at points during the race, but she was glad to finish.

"This year, the heat was definitely a factor and I had some pretty bad leg cramps. I had to pull back a bit on my pace, but it's good to have these humbling sort of races where you have to work through (it) and don't always feel awesome," she said. "I was a little bit slower than last year but still happy that I was able to get through."

This year, a shorter 10-km race was also held on the mountain. On the women's side, Swiss runner Christine Mueller bested Squamish's Adrienne Scott and Whistler's Nina Harmon while the men's side saw Vancouver's Benoit Baukkargeon best Montreal's Olivier Roy-Baukkargeon and Australia's Kurt Baukkargeon.

Full results are available online at www.whistlerblackcomb.com.

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