Michael Robinson hit the Singletrack 6 podium last year and this year he entered looking for the top spot.
He earned it, rising from third last year to first in the solo 40-plus men's event. The runner-up in both years was the same, as Robinson leapfrogged Calgary's Craig Stappler to surge into the top spot after completing the sixth and final stage on Aug. 3.
"He beat me seven days in a row last year," Robinson recalled. "It was nice to beat him and take the top spot.
"I've raced against him quite a few times and this year it was nice to get the better of him."
After six days of racing, the margin was 15 minutes, 4.2 seconds (15:04.2) as both completed the race in just over a dozen hours. Third-place finisher Stephen Ushy was about 73 minutes back of Robinson.
Robinson won five of the six stages, including the first four, to build up a healthy lead and force Stappler to challenge.
Though he admittedly wasn't in Stappler's head throughout the season, Robinson knows his 2017 has been much improved and his pass was made all through his own hard work.
"I started strong this year... I raced better this year than I did last year," Robinson explained. "Last year, I was too fast in the early season and died off quite early. When you die off physically, you die off mentally as well. You lose a bit of your spice, your desire to train hard and race hard.
"This year, I've been on the way up the whole way and this was the last big race."
Robinson's favourite day came in the final day in the Rossland area as the course passed through the high alpine of Seven Summits. It wasn't the most dramatic day, he noted, but in terms of natural beauty, it was one he'd love to return to in a more laid-back context.
"It was 2,400 metres of descending after 1,500 metres of climbing," he said. "For me, it was a climb for 38 minutes to the crest of the alpine and then it was rolling up and down technical, rocky (trails) with knee-high fields of flowers, and then just rocky, technical trail with huge drops down the sides.
"Then it was a 13-kilometre descent off the back. It was ridiculous."
The race moves every year and this time around was based in the West Kootenays. Robinson enjoyed the way the race was organized this year as it minimized travel days. Racers were based in Rossland for the first three days and Nelson for the final three, with all courses in close proximity to those towns, save for one day of action in Kaslo, about an hour from Nelson.
"Having only one transfer day between towns was great because transferring around becomes part of the race," he said. "It was nice to be situated in just two places."
The Singletrack 6 win was Robinson's 10th stage race overall, and he plans to defend his title when the event shifts into the Columbia Mountains.
A number of other Sea to Sky residents competed. In Robinson's division, Pemberton's Russ Wood was fourth while Whistler's Greg McDonnell was ninth. Pemberton's Natalie Wood was second among solo 40-plus women and Whistler's Chris Clark took 13th in the open men's event.
Full results are at zone4.ca.