New course record set as race attracts largest field to date
A group of 68 hard-core runners took part in the third annual STORMY (Squamish Test of Running Metal Yeah!) ultra trail run last Saturday, taking on the Test of Metal mountain bike course. Aside from five DNFs, 63 of the racers finished the challenging course, which is 67 km long with more than 4,000 feet of climbing and 30 km of singletrack.
The field for the race is steadily growing, with 23 runners the first year and 58 runners in 2002. The race is also part of the Iron Lung Trail Series and the B.C. Ultra Trialrunning Series.
"Its a hard sell," admits Eric Langhjelm, the event manager for STORMY. "Most ultra marathons are around 50 kilometres, which is only eight kilometres longer than a marathon, so its pretty manageable. Sixty-seven kilometres is definitely harder.
"Still, its got a beautiful course, and the interest is definitely there. Its going to be a slow-growing thing, thats for sure, and it was probably one of the best ultra races on the coast this year.
"It was the perfect race day," he added. "The weather was good, the volunteers were amazing, and everything worked right."
According to Langhjelm, it was also an exciting race. The younger runners took an early lead, but the older, more experience athletes started to catch up and pass at around the half-way point. The lead pack stuck together until the last 5 km when the runners began to make their move for the finish.
First place overall went to Gordon Corby of North Vancouver, who finished the course in five hours and 12 minutes. That was 18 minutes faster than the fastest time the previous year.
Sean Wolfe of Mt. Currie was close behind in 5:14:55.
Whistlers Scott Pass was third in 5:25:57. Pass and Wolfe also finished third and fifth in the recent Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run, a 50 km course known for its challenging climbs and descents.
"To tell you the truth, I was surprised to see these guys show up after the Knee Knacker," said Langhjelm. "Now thats a tough race. But they showed up and they were ready to go and had amazing races."
Langhjelm says the top five men broke the previous course record.
The top three men all competed in the 40 to 49 age group.
Jim Swadling was first in the mens 50 and Over group, and seventh overall, with a time of 5:35:24. Sorban Imre was second in the category in 6:55:22, followed by Tom OBrennan in 7:07:11.