Coming over the ridge into the cinder flats and the halfway point of the Rubble Creek Classic, Phil Villeneuve and Oliver Utting were literally on each other's heels at a near-sprint. According to Villeneuve, who went on to set a course record, this was all according to plan.
"We ran together up the climb, Ben (Biswell), Oliver and I, and about three quarters of the way up the climb I took off on the other guys," he said. "I know my strengths and weaknesses, and knew that I was better on the ups and downs than on the flats, and that Oliver would probably catch me on the flats. Just as I predicted he actually caught me pretty quick on the flats, so we started running together until the descent. After that it was just a question of who could take the most beating on their quads."
The downhill is over 12 km of the total distance, as runners descend close to 1,300 metres from the high point of the trail to the Garibaldi parking lot.
Villeneuve was well-prepared for a quad beating, having recently placed fourth in the six stage TransRockies Run in Colorado. He finished the 26 km Rubble Creek course in one hour, 56 minutes and 10 seconds, setting a new record by almost nine minutes on the 25 th anniversary of the Rubble Creek Classic.
Utting also broke the previous record, finishing just 35 seconds after Villeneuve, while Seamus Frew placed third in 2:04:30.
Ben Biswell, who is new to running this season, finished fourth in 2:06:10, despite being hobbled by some huge blisters on the endless descent.
Rounding out the rest of the top-10 were Ted Lawson (2:14:16), Mike Palichuk (2:16:10), Mike Edwards (2:19:17), Andy Robinson (2:19:17), Tomas Cernicka (2:20:27) and Donald Mackey (2:20:56).
Villeneuve didn't come to Whistler with any plans to run, but was on a tour of Whistler and Vancouver as a rep for Salomon and found out about the race on Thursday. He didn't have his regular running shoes, but made do with some older trainers.
"Running in the alpine is the same everywhere you go, it's really neck and neck with running out of Canmore," he said. "The month of October is always about running in the alpine for me, so it's great to come here and kickstart my fall season."
Ultra runner Ellie Greenwood was the top female racer in 2:19:32, followed by Shannon Back in 2:26:10 and Whistler's Lee Edwards in 2:32:00. Rounding out the top 10 were Carolyn Goluza (2:32:00), Stephanie Smith (2:37:15), Brooke Spence (2:41:21), Jacqueline Brusset (2:43:00), Walli Kruger (2:43:50), Angela Shoniker (2:45:56) and Jackie Muir in 2:46:13.