The Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run, a 50 km epic from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove, is recognized as the toughest trail race in Canada and among the top-10 hardest races in all of North America a list that includes at least two 100 mile ultramarathons.
The course record has been held by Whistler Secondary teacher Kevin Titus since July of 2003, but some of the top long distance road runners and trail runners in the province were gunning for that record at Saturdays race.
If the conditions had been a little drier the runners might have had a chance, but the mud from weeks of rain took its toll on the field, slowing the climbs and making the steep descents a lot more treacherous.
Tituss record time of four hours, 42 minutes and 37 seconds was more than safe from the competition in the 17 th annual race, and could be solid for years to come. Before Titus broke the record by more than five minutes, the previous record had stood for 12 years.
Mark Bates came the closest to the mark on Saturday, winning the Mens Under 40 category and the race in a time of 5:05:40. The second place finisher, Peter Findlay, also hoped to break the record but had to settle for first place in the 40 to 49 group with a time of 5:17:04. Duncan Coo was third overall, and second in the mens Under 40 group, in 5:32:13.
Behind Cook, a group of about a dozen racers traded spots during the run, including a pair of Whistler runners.
The top Whistler runner in the race was Gary Robbins, who finished sixth overall with a time of 5:40:49. Less than four minutes back was Duncan Munro who finished ninth overall in 5:44:47.
"I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of my race, as I felt strong throughout the day," said Robbins, who has also completed the 67 km STORMY race in Squamish. "I definitely have Val Burke and her training schedule to thank for that.
"Munro and I traded spots four or five times, each time disappearing on the other runner. Im sure everyone would attest to the fact that it really helps to see other locals out on course and Sea to Sky competitors had a great day with nearly a dozen finishers."
Robbins is still recovering from the race, but has already signed up for next year. Robbins is one of the few runners that actually got faster as the day wore on, with split times between ninth and 13 th for the five stages, but with the third fastest split on the sixth and final stage.