There are literally hundreds of kilometres of trails in Whistler, but only one of them is designated by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) as an Epic Ride. Built by trail guru Chris Markle over four years, the 24km trail is one of the biggest and best rides in Whistler, a true test of endurance as well as skill. And it didn't take long for trail runners to find it.
The Comfortably Numb Trail Run dates back to 2004 and ran every year until the organizers pulled back in 2010. The Run the North Shore series resurrected the run for 2011, and on June 24 they will be hosting the event once again — the eighth annual.
Registration is available online for $65, going up to $75 on the day of the event.
So far registration is going well with 75 signed up, and more expected to get off the fence in the last few weeks before the run.
The run starts at Wedgemount at 9 a.m. and finishes at Spruce Grove Park in Whistler. Aside from a gravel road at the start and gravel trails through Lost Lake Park, almost all of the run takes place on singletrack. There are a few good climbs and steep descents, but far less than other trail runs with a total vertical gain of roughly 1,200 metres.
The men's course record was set by Aaron Heidt in 2008, who came out of the woods in 1:49:50. Heidt would go on to set a record on the 50km Knee Knacker course in 2011, widely regarded as one of the hardest in the province if not all of Canada.
Marathoner Kristina Rody set the women's course record of 2:05:25 in the very first year of the run.
The course is now slightly longer since the early years with a different route through Lost Lake Park to the finish line, but you could argue that it's also faster now as well as thousands of runners and riders have broken in the trail. Good shoes are a must and runners should take care on some of the more technical descents.
While it's a point-to-point race, the organizers have made it easy for runners to park their cars at the finish and take special buses to the start line. There's also a fully-stocked aid station at the 12km mark.
For registration or more information, visit www.runthenorthshore.com/events/comfortably-numb/.