Sports » Features

Harrington tops Cheakamus Challenge

Monsoon-like rains the night before the race kept some competitors away



There are always lots of stories to tell at the end of the Cheakamus Challenge Fall Classic, a 70-km point-to-point race from Squamish Airport to Whistler Creek with about 2,000 metres of climbing from start to finish.

This year the biggest story was the rain, which soaked the course the night before to create some deep puddles and slippery roots on the singletrack sections, but which cleared up on Saturday to create some perfect cycling weather.

"I was terrified of the weather the night before, but as it was we had a pretty good day. I'm a proud of all the riders who stuck it out," said race director Grant Lamont.

"The rain probably cost us 80 to 100 entries and there were a lot of no-shows, but I thought it was a great event."

Lamont has been organizing the race since 1989, resurrecting an event called See Colours and Puke that had disappeared a few years earlier.

Looking forward, Lamont is interested in bringing new partners on board to organize and promote the event, which broke 1,000 riders for several years before dropping to between 300 and 400 riders on average.

Another story of the race was a stalled train near the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood, which delayed riders for several minutes as they carried their bikes around the back of the train. As a result riders were roughly 10 minutes slower than previous years.

Whistler's Joanna Harrington topped the women's full course this year with a time of 3:36:34. Lesley Clements followed Harrington home in 3:49:26. Katherine Short of the Sunshine Coast was third in 3:55:12.

"I just got back from the worlds in Australia where I had the most amazing experience (but) missed the Wheel Up and was looking forward to the Cheakamus Challenge," said Harrington. "It's such a good opportunity and reason to cover some incredible terrain and views. Hopefully next year more Whistler riders will do it and get the numbers back up to what they were. It's quite incredible this is the 20 th year."

Martin Lazarski took the Pro Expert Men's race in 3:09:47, almost three minutes ahead of Cory Wallace's time of 3:12:41. Andy Traslin was third in 3:17:17.

Squamish's Kelly Servinski was the top local rider, finishing in fourth place in 3:17:32 while Josh Stott was the top Whistler racer in seventh place in 3:34:32.

Another result of note this year was Neal Kindree, who was competing for the first time in over a year and a half after being sidelined with a knee injury. He finished the course in 3:43:40 despite two flats, placing 10 th in his category.