By the time the Squamish Test of Metal got underway at 11 a.m. last Saturday the temperature was already in the high 20s and approaching day’s high of 31 degrees Celsius.
If the heat bothered any of the 800-plus athletes who took part in this year’s 67.5 km epic – including more than 35 km of singletrack – the times certainly didn’t show it, with faster times than last year recorded in both the men’s and women’s elite categories.
From the start it looked like Victoria’s Andrew Kyle would repeat this year after leading the entire race and claiming all 10 primes along the way.
Carter Hovey, the winner in 2002 and the runner-up in 2003 had other ideas, and went on to reclaim his title in the Crumpit Woods section after narrowing the gap to just 15 seconds heading into the singletrack. Hovey, who is also from Victoria, passed Kyle in a technical section and held on to the lead to finish in two hours, 40 minutes and 33 seconds, with a narrow 39-second margin of victory.
Third went to Abbotsford racer Ricky Federau who finished in 2:43:25.
In the women’s Elite race it was payback time for Sarah Noble, who led most of the 2003 race before being passed at the end. This year she led right from the start line and didn’t look back to finish the course in 3:11:42. Wendy Simms was second in 3:16:36 and Melanie McQuaid an extremely close third in 3:16:37.
This was also the first year for the Ultra Test, a 105-km race that began three hours before the Test of Metal on the GearJammer course and caught up with the main race at the start line.
Steven Williams of Seattle won this race in 5:38:58, followed closely by Andrew Handford in 5:40:13. Whistler’s Mike Charuk was third in 5:46:13, finishing the Test of Metal section on Ricky Federau’s back wheel after getting a 45 minute start on the rest of the field.
"I’ve done two 12-hour races, so I knew what I was getting into with the 105-km race," said Charuk, who races in Canada Cup events in the Masters category. The heat didn’t affect his racing, he said, but "I drank 10 bottles of water and didn’t pee until four o’clock in the afternoon, so that should tell you something. I didn’t find it that hard, but you had to push yourself through the day."
Charuk said he enjoyed the GearJammer race because it had uphill singletrack sections and flowed really well. He also got a chance to do the infamous Powerhouse Plunge twice in the day.