When Aaron Heidt crossed the finish line of Sunday’s Rubble Creek Classic he asked the volunteers, “is that it?”
He just missed his goal of breaking the two-hour mark on the 26 km course, but like a lot of runners he expected a jog to the finish after descending steadily for more than 10 km.
The course starts at the Cheakamus Lake Trailhead parking lot, before turning up the steep Helm Creek Trail to the Cinder Flats behind Black Tusk. From there it winds around the Black Tusk Meadows before descending the Rubble Creek trail to the Black Tusk-Garibaldi Lake Trailhead. In the process, runners gain more than 900 metres in elevation to the high point, then lose almost 1,300 metres to the finish line.
This year’s race, limited to 85 participants, sold out five days early.
The race began under blue skies with a layer of frost on the ground. By the time the runners were in the alpine, the frost was several centimetres thick in some places. The nearby peaks were also dusted by a light layer of snow.
Heidt says the effect was breathtaking, but likely slowed him down as well.
“I basically broke trail through the frost for everybody else,” he said. “There was a hard layer of frost on top of everything and it just shattered under your feet with every step. I probably lost some time there. It was pretty weird conditions, but it was gorgeous up there.”
Heidt said he had the lead after the first 100 metres or so, and ran the course on his own without seeing another runner. As it was, he finished in 2:05:39, while Roger Shirt was second in 2:09:53, and Lars Ole Valoen third in 2:10:00.
Rounding out the top-10 were James Grant in 2:17:46, Duncan Munro in 2:18:00, Barry Mason in 2:19:21, Lindsay Burch in 2:21:59, Dave Smith in 2:23:00, Hugo Morin in 2:26:03, and Scott Comeau in 2:26:42.
Burch was surprised by her result, due to her lack of training this season — one training run over an hour a few weeks before. Still, her time was about five minutes slower than a few years ago where she ranked in the top-five overall.
“It was absolutely beautiful,” she said. “One of the good things about this course is that it goes in stages. First you have to get up the hill, then there’s the long false flat section through the meadows, and then you have the downhill. I just tried to maintain a good pace the whole way, which was tough because you just want to stop and look around.”
The second-ranked woman was Marieve Legrand in 2:33:22, followed by Tracy Hall in 2:35:25, Malaika Ulmi in 2:43:05, Catherine O’Neill in 2:43:06, Nancy MacConnachie in 2:44:55, Jacqueline Brusset in 2:47:37, Anne-Marie Baribeau in 2:48:06, Elspeth Miller in 2:48:16, and Heather Jackson in 2:50:17, rounding out the top-10.
Bryce Leigh also participated in his 21 st running of the Rubble Creek Classic. He has only missed the first year of the race and one other year where he was sidelined with a broken leg.