By Andrew Mitchell
After a week of rain and cooler temperatures the sun broke
through Saturday for the 22
running of the Cheakamus Challenge
Fall Classic, creating almost perfect conditions for riders. Aside from some
slippery sections on Trash it was a high-speed day for most riders, with the
usually dusty climbs up from Calcheak and to Tunnel Vision offering a little
For most riders the course was a long 71 km, starting at
Squamish Airport and finishing in Whistler via a series of single and
doubletrack trails, and roads. There was also a 42 km Cheakamus Lite race that
started at the Bungee Bridge near the Calcheak campground.
The race for first place was all over by the end of the
Cheakamus Canyon, with Victoria’s Max Plaxton defending his title with
everything he had. By the time he reached the finish line at Dusty’s —
after three hours, eight minutes and 48 seconds — he had built a lead of
close to five minutes over the rest of the competition.
Kris Sneddon of Victoria was second in 3:13:24, while Squamish
rider Neal Kindree — second in last year’s Cheakamus Challenge
— placed third in 3:19:03.
Andreas Hestler also raced, still feeling the effects of the
108 km Samurai of Singletrack race the previous weekend. He was fourth in
Two Whistler riders placed fifth and sixth, with Matt Bodkin
coming in at 3:30:29 and Samurai winner Chris Clark posting a 3:33:54. Other
local riders in the Pro Expert category were Ryan Edwards of Squamish in
eighth, Simon Tremblay of Squamish in 15
and Josh Stott of
Pemberton in 4:10:03.
The top female rider, placing 10
some of the fastest men in Canada, was West Vancouver’s Alison Sydor in
3:38:41. This was her fifth Cheakamus Challenge win.
Victoria’s Trish Sinclair was second in 3:55:04, while Sandra
Walter of Coquitlam was third in 4:05:26.
Whistler’s Lesley Clements finished just over four minutes back
of the Pro Expert women’s podium in 4:09:38. Pemberton’s Hillary Harrison was
sixth in 4:24:13, and Squamish’s Charlotte Klein seventh in 4:34:19.
Several local riders also finished at the top of their age
In the Men’s 14-18 race Hayden Drygas of Squamish was sixth in
Whistler’s Joe Lyons placed fourth in the Men’s 19 to 29 race
in 4:18:06, riding the same freeride hardtail he brings to every ride. Todd
Botham was eighth in the same category in 4:38:11, while David Poulsen, David
Smith and Craig Power were 12