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Organizers 'blown away' at Whistler Half-Marathon turnout

725 runners turn out for inaugural event; Whistler runner Ashley McMillan comes in sixth



The Whistler Half-Marathon has "blown away" organizers and participants, making it certain that the event will take place again next year.

Dave Clark, head organizer of the inaugural marathon, which saw 725 participants run through Whistler neighbourhoods on a challenging route, said he's already secured June 2, 2012 as the next date for the event.

"I don't think we could have had a better team to pull it off," he said. "Obviously the weather was stellar, the feedback we've had from runners from Vancouver, Seattle and across the country has just been outstanding and people were really, really thrilled with the course."

Thrilled though they were, numerous participants reported that they found the 21.1-kilometre course a challenge. Starting at 7:30 a.m., at Olympic Plaza in Whistler Village, runners then went along Lorimer Road to Beaver Lane. Then it was down Blueberry Drive to Lakeside Park before turning around and coming back to the village and to another turnaround at Rainbow Park.

Clark said he designed the course with his favourite running routes in mind.

"We went through 10 or 11 different versions of the course, most of them always incorporated neighbourhoods we ended up running through," he said. "The course design itself was about an eight-month process, from the very beginning of, 'Wouldn't it be great to have that section and that section?' to where we ended up on race day."

The course also brought numerous Whistler residents out to cheer on the runners as they sped past - some still in their pajamas or dressed up in costumes!

"On race days, hearing about people being dressed up to cheer people on and people that put up balloon arches," Clark said, "That is probably the number two comment ... about what they liked.

"The number one we heard back is how great the volunteers were."

Improvements in future Half-Marathons could include installing more food and water stations along the route. The temperature turned out to be 10 to 11 degrees hotter on race day than organizers anticipated and they already planned to have a station every four and a half to five kilometers. Next year they may look at adding another.

"It would have been nice to have one more," Clark said. "That's part and parcel of the weather we end up having, it's not that warm at race start time."

The fastest runner from Whistler was Ashley McMillan, who came in sixth in a time of 1:18:27.

"I'm pretty happy, I can't say I'm unhappy with sixth," he told Pique . "I think it's fair, I probably was hoping for a podium position."

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