With the books closed on the Test of Metal, cross-country riders in the Sea to Sky corridor will pick up their proverbial pencils at a new event in Squamish beginning in 2017.
In a release on Nov. 18, the Spakwus 50 was officially born, and it has roots in the Test of Metal. Founder Dwayne Kress was the Just Another Bike Race (JABR) race director, so he knows a thing or two about putting together a successful competition.
"When the announcement came early in 2016 that the Test of Metal events were no longer going to continue, I felt there was still a need. A lot of people in the community felt there was still a need," said Kress. "I felt if it was to be, it was up to me."
In addition to race day on June 17, there will be two races Kress called "super Toonie(s)" run in conjunction with SORCA slated for April 15 and May 13.
"They'll be orientation events for the Spakwus but it's not a true series in the way the Test of Metal was," Kress explained. "We just found that over the years, that it started to break down just due to the summer, you'd have people who would travel and we were always going to the well for the same volunteers so it just got to be a little bit much.
"What we're going to do is focus on having the one quality event and it being a notable challenge."
The race will also serve as the B.C. Mountain Bike Marathon Championships.
"I approached Cycling BC on it as I was filling out grant applications for the race and decided since I was doing it, I might as well try to make it a noteworthy event. Cycling BC has had experience with us in the past with the Canadian National (Cross-Country) Marathon Championships, so they knew we could pull off an event of this scope," he said. Squamish hosted the nationals in 2014. "It wasn't too big of an ask, but it was a real quick ask and a real quick yes."
Kress anticipates opening registration in early January and other details will be released soon. At this point, there is no cap on registration.
"I don't think we're going to have a problem drawing around or over 300. My worry is we may have 500 or more," he said. "The trail capacity is rather large. We can certainly accommodate the Test of Metal size. I think the start/finish venue is a little small for 1,000 riders, or even 500 or 600 riders but it'll be cozy.
"It's the first year and it's bound to have hiccups along the way. We can deliver a world-class course and that's really the heart of the race."
The course map for the 55-kilometre event with roughly 2,400 metres of climbing will also be released soon, but those who enjoyed the JABR should be excited for the Spakwus, Kress said.
"It's very similar to the JABR, quite honestly. There are a few tweaks to it. It's a little bit longer," he said.
Kress said a shorter option is also being considered.
For more information and to stay up-to-date, visit the Spakwus 50 page on Facebook or spakwus50.com.