The handful of runners who participated in the Lumpy's Epic Trail Run on Sunday, Oct. 20 got the chance to run above the clouds — a surreal experience for the event's winner.
"Once you got up to those rocks where you can see down the valley to where the golf courses are and everything, there was a sea of fog, and it was almost like you had vertigo looking down there," said J.F. Robert, who took top spot in the adult division of this year's run. "It was amazing.
"That's the only time I stuck my head up," he laughed. "The rest of it was pretty hard."
Robert completed a 12-kilometre course utilizing notorious Lumpy's Epic trail near Pemberton in 38 minutes, 45 seconds. That gave him a comfortable lead at the finish over runner-up Marc Cousineau, who recorded a time of 41:44, and third-place finisher John Davies at 43:01.
"I'm in shock. I was really surprised," Robert said of winning the event. "I finished third two years ago with a little bit slower time. I haven't been running as much this summer, I've been biking more, so I never would have guessed I'd beat my time from two years ago. I'm really happy."
Youth runner Joe Davies just missed the overall podium on Sunday, as he finished the race in 46:39. That put him one second ahead of Lisa Ankeny, who was the top women's finisher on the day and placed fifth overall.
"It was a great run. It's one of my favourites and it's in my backyard," said Ankeny, who's been a regular participant in the run but isn't usually focused on the competition.
"I'm definitely a recreational athlete," she laughed.
The next-fastest female runner was Esmee Ingham, who reached the finish in 1:03:00, while Christine Cogger and Liz Cullen had matching times of 1:05:54 to tie for third spot.
Davies was one of several youth runners who participated in the adult race. Manu Elorza (50:11), Michael Murdoch (56:28) and Fraser Doak (56:28) were among the junior-aged competitors who placed in the top 10 overall on Sunday.
A five-kilometre youth course set on Sunday wound up seeing higher participation than the adult event. Lauren Doak bested the field by finishing the race in 25:06. She edged Sophie Wuenderich and Alisa Feuz for first place, as Wuenderich and Feuz crossed the line with identical times of 25:09. Kaede Kawano was fourth overall at 26:31.
For the boys, Matthias Shorter was fastest on the trails with a time of 26:39, which was also good for fifth overall. Felix Shorter was the second-fastest boy at 30:04, and Alex Feuz rounded out the top three by finishing in 30:43.
With less than 50 runners participating across the adult and youth races combined, Robert said he'd be pleased to see more people run future editions of the Lumpy's Epic Trail Run, which acts as a fundraiser for the Spud Valley Nordics' youth cross-country ski program.
"The organizers and volunteers are fantastic," he said. "It would be great if more people could come out next year. It's a good community event."