Everyone, it seems, has a different reason for getting into trail running.
Amanda Racher admitted it was more or less by default that she started, having been cut from every other high-school team she had attempted to make. Even after a push into cross-country running, the Whistler resident said she didn't immediately excel.
Still, Racher stuck with it and found a love for it. Her dedication paid off Saturday, as she was the overall women's winner at the inaugural BarnBurner Triple trail-running race in Pemberton on June 20.
"It's one of those sports for all seasons, all events, all condition. Just loving being on trails, on the mountains led to all this," she said. "At first, it was just an excuse to go hiking really underprepared in running shoes with only a Camelbak on (for equipment)."
Racher won the three-loop event with a time of two hours, 26 minutes, and 55.5 seconds (2:26:55.5) finishing 4:40.6 ahead of runner-up Megan Wastle. Heather Munroe rounded out the podium.
Racher acknowledged she didn't even know her position until a marshal informed her she was the first woman passing through. Racher didn't take the news as well as some might think.
"I was terrified," she laughed at the realization she had something to lose. "I was like 'Oh, darn!'"
Acknowledging there were some challenging portions, Racher said the pack was fairly close early on, but she broke away as the race progressed.
"There were some passes on the uphill early on the first leg and then there was an incredible downhill runner who was passing and kept things strong for the downhill," she said. "The rest of it was kind of chugging along. I'm not going to lie, when I got to the top of Pioneer, I was pretty sure I wanted to go on my mountain bike at that stage."
Men's overall winner Matt Hall had a similar story of the day, even falling a bit back of the pack before recovering and winning with a time of 1:49:45.9. Whistler's Daniel Irvine and Vincent Pagot were 5:30.2 and 7:13.2 back, respectively.
"There was a group that went out faster than I would have liked at the beginning," he said. "I just kind of let them go. When we got into the climbing, I think I caught up a little bit. Coming into the second lap, I think I was out front for the rest of it."
Hall explained he passed the pack on the first loop, and though the other runners were out of sight, he felt he never entirely shook the field.
"It's kind of deceiving because you're switchbacking and you're climbing so you don't see people that are close," he said. "I didn't see them again, but I could hear them. It lights a fire under you."
Hall is a Squamish resident, but has been in the Pemberton area for work for the past three months.
"I've only been on the trails one or two times each, but I've been in the area a lot. It's a pretty steep area and pretty consistent in terms of the type of terrain you're working with," he said. "I've been trail running for four or five years now and I absolutely love it. I used to run on roads and this is a lot more engaging. You have to worry about footwork. It's a lot more to think about while you're doing it, so that's pretty entertaining."
Being the first time the race was held, with 73 entries taking part completing one, two or three local Pemberton trail loops, Hall was happy with the quality of competition.
"I didn't expect the kind of competition we had. That first group went out pretty quick. It was a bit of a surprise," he said. "It's a nice surprise. It's nice to have people push you the whole time. They're spectacular trails. It's really well-run."
Racher, meanwhile, said her main reason for participating was to help entrench trail running as a local activity and the event as one of the strongest options for those looking to get involved.
"It's a great community and a great event to put on," she said. "It's pretty cool, but it's good see the support for this and that's the No. 1 reason I was here today."
Racher did the race without any event in particular in mind, but she does plan to compete again this summer.
"I like to be in 'yes' mode. There's lots of great events, lots of great things going on throughout B.C. and it's nice to see a good location and say 'Sure, I'll hop on board that race,'" she said. "There's nothing in particular on the radar but I'm sure something will pop up."
Ken Myers and Jennifer Demard won the two-loop races, while John Teitzel and Emma Chadsey were victorious in the single-loop events. Full results are at www.webscorer.com.