When Charles Perrot-Minot toed the line of the Whistler 50 last Saturday, Oct. 13, the longest race distance he had tackled was a half marathon.
The Vancouverite, who is originally from France, went on to take first place in the 80-kilometre ultramarathon with a time of five hours, 59 minutes and 35 seconds (5:59:35).
"I was doing longer runs lately and I was like, 'Hey, I want to do an ultra,'" he said, after accepting his first-place prize at the award ceremony. "I was supposed to do (a relay race) with a team, but we didn't have eight guys, so I thought, 'I'll do the 50-miler.'"
The course for the 80-km distance looped four times through the Valley Trail, with a short trail section through Lost Lake and the start and finish lines at Whistler Olympic Plaza.
"Some of the up hills were not always so easy," Perrot-Minot added. "I loved the trail parts because it's a lot easier on the feet. The very last loop—the last seven km—was the hardest for me."
On the other end of the spectrum was the top female finisher, Lauren Albert-Lebrun—who also nabbed top spot at the race back in 2016. The North Vancouver athlete said the race is uniquely appealing because so much of it took place on the Valley Trail. "I like going long, but I'm not much of a technical trail runner," she said at the award ceremony. "This is one of the few ultras that's not technical."
She finished in a time of 7:07:58.
"I started hurting pretty early on, so I was worried I'd crash more towards the end," she said. "I kept going. My last lap was pretty slow compared to the others, but I tried to forget about the pain and keep going."
Rounding out the top three in the women's open category for the ultra were Hilary Spires from Vancouver with 8:00:22 and Squamish's Krista Ludlow with 10:26:19.
On the men's side, Glenn Jasechko from Victoria earned second place with 6:05:21 while Christopher Queen from Dubai finished third with 8:24:37.
Quesnel's Ian McIlvenna took first place in the men's master division with 6:12:04 while Cristina Schneiter from Fort Langley earned first place in the women's master division with a time of 10:30:48.
In the men's veteran category, North Vancouver's Hassan Lofti-Pour finished first with 7:49:11.
The race also included relay teams with two, four and eight people. Coast Mountain Brewing—Surveyors took the top spot for the team of eight with a time of 4:45:46; North Vancouver's Gazebo 1 finished first for a team of four with 5:48:35; and Coquitlam's Freestyle Fitness 2 team came in first for the team of two with 7:05:29.
Dave Clark, who BC Athletics approached to direct the race after longtime race director Tom Skinner stepped down, said the unseasonably warm, sunny day largely went off without a hitch.
"Overall, it was a great day," he said. "In mid-October, you can get pretty miserable weather. This event historically has put up with a lot of that in the weather department. The partial feedback so far was great."
Clark is race director for the Whistler Half Marathon—and the inaugural Turkey Trot, which took place on Oct. 7—and said there were a few differences overseeing the events.
"It was definitely a new experience for our team," he said. "We haven't done a relay in the past. That kept us very busy. Because it's a longer duration, it doesn't seem as hectic as the half marathon. It was definitely a steady workflow."
He and his team are now collecting surveys and feedback from participants to compile for BC Athletics, which oversees the event. Afterwards, they'll discuss who will organize the race going forward.
"Our existing contract is to the end of the year," he says. "We'll chat about what the future potentially looks like."
To see the full results visit bcathletics.org/Whistler50RelayUltra.