It was a friend of a friend who suggested Whistler trail runner Duncan Munro as a candidate for one of two Canadian Red Bull Giants of Rio Team. Munro had heard of the event, but he had no idea he was even being considered until the invitation came out of the blue.
The chance to compete for Canada, as well as an all-expense paid trip to Rio de Janeiro to run on that world famous beach, doesnt come up every day.
"Im ecstatic," said Munro. "I never thought in the world that Id be asked to do to something like this.
"Im blown away that my running would one day result in being invited to this kind of event. Ive only been running for a few years, but Ive been running hard. I guess all of my hard work has paid off."
The Red Bull Giants of Rio team relay competition is an annual race that pits teams of four against one another. It starts with a cliff dive into the Atlantic Ocean, followed by a three kilometre beach break swim off of Copacabana Beach. The second stage is a 45 km mountain bike ride through the city and into the technical trails of Tijuca National Park. The trail ends by the gigantic statue of Christ on the top of the Corcovado, where the next team member takes to air in a speed hang gliding competition to Ipanema Beach. The final stage, which is Munros, is a 20 km beach run, with a mix of roads, sand and cobblestone that ends at the famous Copacabana club.
With temperatures in the mid-30s Celsius, its going to be a hard slog. Still, Munro is confident that he can handle the conditions.
"Its not the temperature that worries me or the distance, its the sand. Its supposed to be this really gritty stuff that you just sink into and that gets into everything, although it gets a lot firmer the closer you get to the water. My calves are going to take a beating," he said.
To get used to beach running, Munro plans to make several trips to Vancouver between now and when his team leaves on Dec. 1 to run on the sand. He also went for a 20 km run in the snow last week after almost 30 centimetres fell on Whistler Village.
Local coach Val Burke has also counselled Munro turn up the heat in his bathroom, grab a stationary bike, and lay out a few buckets of water to simulate the heat and humidity of Rio.
"I have to do all of this in a short time to get ready. Its only a few weeks away, but before that all my training was set to peak for the Haney to Harrison run. When I got the call from Red Bull, I needed to ramp up everything again," said Munro.