Although it's not an official competition, the title of King or Queen of Pain has always been hotly contested since Tourism Whistler dubbed September the Month of Pain back in 2006 as a way to increase numbers at local events. This year was no exception, although the lineup of events this September is a little different than in the past.
Through September, locals had the opportunity to race in the West Side Wheel Up (Sept. 4), the Xterra Canadian Championships (Sept. 5), the RBC Granfondo (Sept. 11), the Cheakamus Challenge (Sept. 18), the Terry Fox Run (Sept. 19), the Whistler Spirit Run (Sept. 25-26), and the Rubble Creek Classic (Sept. 26).
Taken together, that represents up to 110 km of mountain biking, 122 km of road riding, 53 km of road and trail running and 1.5 km of swimming.
Several locals did multiple events over the past month, although by the time it was over the clear King of Pain for 2010 was Kevin Hodder.
Hodder's list of events includes the West Side Wheel Up (22nd overall; 1:35:02), the Xterra Canada Championships (15th in age category; 3:15:24), the Cheakamus Challenge (10th in category; 3:56:36), Terry Fox Run (not timed), the first day of the Whistler Spirit Run (10th in Open Men's 8K; 29:44.55), and then finally the Rubble Creek Classic (fifth overall; 2:30:30).
"That's what makes this area so great, you can push yourself so often in all these great events," said Hodder.
Overall, Hodder is pleased with how he raced all month and how his body responded. As a new father he hasn't had as much time to run and ride as usual.
"I think the Rubble Creek Classic was the hardest of the legs, I was definitely the most sore on that of all the events," he said. "All things considered I don't really feel that run down.
"There were three really hard things for me. One was the swim at the Xterra, then it was the last 10 kilomteres of the Cheakamus Challenge and then the last two kilometres of Rubble Creek."
Hodder says he was 92nd out of the water in the swim leg of the Xterra, out of a group of 103, but then managed to pass around 40 others on the bike leg - two laps of a moderately technical course that out-of-towners not used to Whistler riding had trouble with.
He didn't set out at the start of the summer to prepare for the Month of Pain but he had already decided to do the Xterra, the Cheakamus Challenge and the Rubble Creek Classic. From there, he decided to rise to the Month of Pain challenge and add a few additional events.
What would have made it better, he said, would have been a few more people to race against.
"I think that would make (the Month of Pain) even more fun, to try to get a group of people doing it and compare times at the end of it," he said. "It would be great to try and create an event out of all the other events going on, and just celebrate it."
Duncan Munro was the runner-up this year. He did all the same events as Hodder with the exception of the Xterra - although as the course-setter he did the circuit several times over before and after the race. He raced the West Side Wheel Up (21st in 1:35:01), the Cheakamus Challenge (25th in category in 4:12:02 - with a crash), the Terry Fox Run (in fire gear), the Whistler Spirit Run 8 km (12th in Open Men in 29:52.59) and the Rubble Creek Classic.
Munro also coached two trail running clinics, and did the last three WORCA Toonie Rides.
There were no female challengers this year for the Month of Pain but recognition should go to Brandi Heisterman, who won the women's category in both the West Side Wheel Up (10th overall; 1:22:40) and Cheakamus Challenge (13th overall; 3:27:43) and managed to give the top roadies a run for their money in the RBC GranFondo (ninth overall in 3:44.21, five seconds out of first).