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Events postponed by fire closures



West Side Wheel Up, Samurai, Sea to Summit pushed back; Cheakamus Challenge still on with contingency date

Continuing dry conditions and a growing forest fire hazard have prompted the provincial government to issue a backcountry travel restriction for all of southern B.C., applying to all crown land. The restriction came into effect on Friday, Aug. 29, and will remain in effect until Sept. 14. If dry conditions persist, it could be extended even longer.

As a result, several Whistler events have been rescheduled: The West Side Wheel Up, in its 10th year, has been pushed back from this Saturday, Sept. 6, with a makeup date still to be chosen.

The Samurai of Singletrack has been pushed back from Sept. 13 to Oct. 4, where it will start shortly after sunrise to compensate for shorter daylight hours.

The Sea to Summit Adventure Race, once scheduled for Sept. 6 and 7 has been pushed back to Oct. 25 and 26.

The Cheakamus Challenge is applying for an exemption to the backcountry restriction and may still run on Sept. 20. If the restriction is extended for any reason, the make-up date is Sept. 27.

In addition, Loonie races and recreation mountain biking and hiking has been restricted. All trails in the valley are closed to the public with the exception of the Emerald Forest trails, A River Runs Through It, Lost Lake Trails, Nesters trails (Cut Yer Bars) and the Valley Trail system. Whistler-Blackcomb is fully open and operational, including the mountain bike park, although they have banned smoking on the lifts and in other sensitive areas.

All areas in Whistler that are elevated or inaccessible by fire crews have been closed by Whistler Fire Services.

According to Phil Chew, the organizer of the West Side Wheel Up, the move to close local trails came as a surprise, but he understands why it had to happen.

"We’re the first race to fall to the fire hazard. Hopefully it can be rescheduled, but we’ll have to see," said Chew.

He contacted fire services to find out if the ban would apply to the Wheel Up and Chew was told that it would affect the trails west of Alta Lake Road, which are more than half the race, as well as the after-party and barbecue in the woods behind Rainbow Park.

"To tell you the truth, I didn’t want to hold it just now anyway with the fire hazard so high," said Chew. "It was too much of a liability for us. What happens if we burn down Rainbow Park? We can’t be responsible for that."