Last year Robin Poirier created a bit of a stir at the Whistler Valley Trail Run when he crossed the finish line wearing Vibram Five Fingers shoes — basically one step up from running barefoot with fitted toes and a thin layer of Vibram rubber between your foot and the ground.
But somehow, Poirier found a step in between Five Fingers and barefoot running, showing up to the start this year in a pair of thin leather moccasins he picked up a discount store. It really was the next closest thing to wear nothing on his feet.
"After my Five Fingers gave out during the Warrior Dash last year I picked these up," explained Poirier, who completed the hilly 10km course in 37:38 — about six minutes faster than the next racer. He also improved on his time from last year by almost a full minute.
He was sitting in second after the prologue around the baseball diamonds, but he took over the lead on the first climb.
"We started out as a pack, and I tried to keep a couple of the guys with me but I think a few of them started too fast and faded a little," he said.
The last time he did the course was during last year's Valley Trail Run, but as the lead runner he had an advantage. "I didn't have it memorized, but I just followed the pace cyclist so I could see where all the twists and turns were."
The lead pace cyclist later admitted that he was having trouble staying ahead of Poirier, who set the record on that particular course with an average speed of almost 16km/h.
Whistler's Mark Allard was second in 43:41, followed by Marian Treger in 44:46. All three were in the Male Open category.
The top female racer was Whistler's Hayley Winters in 45:49, followed by Jessica Aldighieri in 48:56 and Tracey Wright — who raced the Adult Try-a-Tri the day before — in 49:04.
Winters said she did the run as training for this Saturday's North Face Whistler Half Marathon.
It was also her first time doing the course. "(Lost Lake Park) definitely lives up to the name, because I felt lost the whole time," she said. "It was so windy and hilly, but there's an equal number of ups and downs so you did get a variety. I really liked it, and the half marathon is hilly so it was good training as well."
There was also a 5km race. Emma Chadsley of Pemberton was first overall and first in Female Open in 22:20. Marsha McConkey was eighth overall and second in the category in 28:49 and Dann Watt ninth and third respectively in 28:49.
Jordan McCreanor of Squamish was second overall and first in Male 15 and Under in 24:09. He was followed by Pemberton's Joe Davies, third overall, in 24:48 and Karsten Mullins of Washington, fourth overall, in 25:13.
Rob Scott of Port Moody was sixth overall and first in Masle Open in 27:57, followed by David Powell in 28:32 and Ken Roberts in 36:26.
Casey Rogers of Washington was the only runner in Female 15 and Under, finishing in 35:08.
Results at www.webscorer.com.