When Ian McIlvenna crossed the Whistler 50 Ultra finish line just after noon on Saturday, he dropped to his knees and bowed down to the ground, clearly thrilled with his victory.
The Quesnel resident took the triumph in a blistering six hours, eight minutes and 10 seconds (6:08:10) to best runner-up Alex Grimbley from Vancouver by nearly 50 minutes in the overall men's division in the 80-kilometre race. Fellow Vancouverite Hozumi Nakai took third.
"It's a long day and you never know, it could end in one stride," McIlvenna said. "All day long, you like to think 'OK, I got this sewed up' or 'I'm doing really well,' but it can all go away in a heartbeat.
"You just try to stick to your training, stick to your form and externalize, making sure everything is right on the outside while your mind is sharp on the inside."
McIlvenna said it's been an up-and-down year for him as he had a rough go at the Ottawa Self-Transcendence 24-Hour Race in July followed by a better showing in September at the Mount Robson Marathon in the 50-km division.
"It wasn't that good. This was a definite high point," he said. "This is the icing on the cake. It ends the year quite well."
Grimbley, meanwhile, was coming off a disappointing result at the Finlayson Arm race last month but rebounded by not only achieving his time goal, but the bonus of medalling.
"I was just trying to break seven hours, so this is fantastic," Grimbley said, adding he was challenged by two other runners for the first half of the race, but dropped them on the third of four laps. "I was trying not to get distracted by a lot of the other runners running around me."
In the women's ultra, Vancouver's Nelly Amenyogbe won in a time of 8:25:46, passing Surrey's Nadia Leach. Edson, Alta.'s Jessica McBride placed third.
The top three relay teams were Coast Mountain Brewing, VFAC Men and Surrey Fire 1.