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Fourth Samurai of Singletrack open for registration

Participants in last year’s race to have first crack at 100 spots

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There are still almost two months remaining before the fourth annual Samurai of Singletrack mountain bike epic on Sept. 11, but the subtle bribe offers have already started to roll in for organizers Tony Horn and Ru Mehta.

The Samurai of Singletrack is one of the most difficult rides to get into, with the number of entries capped firmly at 100 riders, the maximum capacity of the infamous after-party at Teppan Village.

Because participants in the previous year’s race get first crack at registration every year, only around 20 spots have been opened up to the public each year after the early registration deadline has passed. These spots usually go in a matter of hours, with wanna-be Samurai’s lining up for hours to be first in line. Those that don’t get in go on the waiting list, which gets longer every year.

The race has become such a local legend that local bike builder Ian Ritz of Chromag bikes even named one of his models The Samurai.

Horn expects the same kind of interest in this year’s event.

"I know already that it’s going to be bigger than last year, just by all the people that are coming up to me that haven’t done the Samurai and say they want to do it," said Horn.

If you can’t be at Slopeside Supply’s office in Function Junction early in the morning on Aug. 3 – the date that the registration is opened to the public – Horn has one piece of advice for you.

"Volunteeer," he suggests. "If you volunteer this year, that lets you (register in advance) next year. It’s the only way that you can guarantee that you’ll have a spot."

Horn and Mehta came up with the idea for the Samurai of Singletrack after noticing that there were a lot of races around for cross-country types, but nothing for all the people in the valley who are riding bigger bikes and prefer Whistler’s technical trails to an aerobic workout.

Since then they’ve included just about every technical trail in Whistler in the Samurai, with courses that include sections of up to 19 different trails and that get steadily longer and harder each year. Last year’s event was 63 km – four kilometres shorter than the Test of Metal, but it took riders almost twice as long to complete it. In the first two years the course was 43 km and 55.5 km respectively.

The goal is to run the Samurai contest for seven years, after which point the riders who have participated in all of the events will be crowned as "ultimate samurais". Fifty-eight riders have done the Samurai all three years.

The course remains Whistler’s most closely guarded secret until it’s finally announced at the Loonie race before the Samurai, on Sept. 9 – Horn and Mehta don’t want anybody pre-riding the course.

"What we’re thinking is that the course won’t be longer than last year, but it will probably be a little more technical," said Horn. "We’ve noticed that people are getting lighter bikes this year, so we may have to make things a little steeper."

The advanced registration got underway on Thursday and will run until 5 p.m. on Aug. 2. Riders who don’t have their entry fee in at that time will be taken off the list. The $80 fee includes a jersey, on course water stations and support, a dinner at Teppan Village and a few other surprises.

The Samurai will be open to the public the following morning, starting at 9 a.m.

You can pick up and drop off your entry forms at Slopeside Supply in Function Junction, or mail your name, e-mail address, phone number, age, sex and shirt size to Samurai of Singletrack; 4-1365 Alpha Lake Road; Whistler B.C.; V0N1B1. For more information call 604-938-1680.

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