Even spread over four weekends instead of the usual three, the September Month of Pain is something to be respected.
The Month of Pain included the West Side Wheel Up mountain bike race on Sept. 6, the Loop the Lakes trail run on Sept. 7, the Soo Valley Rumble mountain bike race on Sept. 13, the Terry Fox Run on Sept. 14, the Cheakamus Challenge mountain bike race on Sept. 20 and the Whistler Spirit Run and Rubble Creek Classic trail run this past weekend.
Dozens of locals participated in multiple events, but only one male competed in six events — Duncan Munro, defending his title from last year. The only female to complete five events was trail running newcomer Emma Smith.
Munro completed the West Side Wheel Up in 1:31:32, the 15 km Loop the Lakes course in 1:08:43, the 42 km Soo Valley Rumble in 3:52:36, the 10 K Terry Fox course (while wearing firefighter gear), the 71 km Cheakamus Challenge in 4:30:15, and the 26 km Rubble Creek Classic in 2:19:32. His total time, not including the Terry Fox Run, was 13 hours, 22 minutes and 38 seconds.
It may not seem like a lot, but it includes some of the most physically demanding races in Whistler.
“It’s a lot harder than you think, doing one or two events every weekend,” he said. “And the races are all tough in their own way. I’m pretty worked, I could definitely feel it in my legs on the way down (the Rubble Creek Classic course). I couldn’t imagine if the Cheakamus Challenge and Rubble Creek were in the same weekend this year, that would have been savage.”
Adding to Munro’s Month of Pain, he also competed in the Gore-Tex TransRockies Trail Run this year with his sponsors at Salomon — a six-day, 125-mile run through the Colorado Rockies that ended on Aug. 31, one week before the start of the Month of Pain. He finished second among unranked runners in that run.
Now he’s in New Zealand on a holiday, but still managed to find a trail run to race in. stretching his personal month of pain over six weeks.
Next year he hopes to have more competition for the King of Pain title.
“I think more people should do it because it’s such a great month, and such great events — most of them for charity. I enjoyed every minute I was out there,” he said.
Several men did all of the bike events, including Chris Clark, Greg Grant, Jason Shorter, Tony Routley, Mike Boehm, Josh Stott, Bob Allison, Eric Crowe, Mike Watton, Mike Charuk, Russ Wood, Julian Base, Joe Tibble, Dustin Gordon, and Rob Ricci. Others like Mick Peatfield did a mix of events, like the West Side Wheel Up, Loop the Lakes, Terry Fox Run and Rubble Creek Classic.
Emma Smith raced in the West Side Wheel Up in 1:33:24, the 15 km Loop the Lakes course in 1:13:35, the Soo Valley Rumble in 3:55:05, the Cheakamus Challenge in 4:52:15, and the 10K Whistler Spirit Run in 42:20.50. Her total time was 12 hours, 16 minutes and 39 seconds.
She was also on the podium several times as the top female runner in Loop the Lakes, placing second among women in the Soo Valley Rumble, winning her age category in the Cheakamus Challenge, and winning the Whistler Spirit Run.
“Just being around so many amazing athletes on the mountain bike events, with such amazing skills was really cool,” she said. “The trail running was new to me as well, and I really enjoyed the month.”
The 5 Peaks trail running race on Whistler Mountain on Aug. 23 was Smith’s first trail run, where she placed first overall among women on the 11 km Enduro course. She is training for the Xterra world championships in Hawaii next month, which is an off-road triathlon, and decided she needed to start running trails.
The low point of her Month of Pain was the wet and cold Cheakamus Challenge.
“I got pretty tired, and had the Soo Valley the week before, so I just tried to keep pedaling and get over the line,” she said. “I just kept reminding myself of the B.C. Bike Race to motivate myself. I actually loved the course, but I was so unprepared for the conditions with a vest and tights and that’s it. I also wasn’t training for a four or five hour race, but I wanted to do it because it’s a legendary event and I wanted to tick it off my list.”
She followed her Month of Pain with a ride on Comfortably Numb on Monday and a one and a half hour wetsuit swim in Lost Lake on Tuesday.
Close to Smith in the standings was Melanie Bernier, who finished all three bike events and the Terry Fox Run, but could not finish the Loop the Lakes trail run because of an illness.
Women doing all three bike events include Lesley Clements, Cathy Zeglisnki and Sarah Lewin.