The decision to change the West Side Wheel Up course to minimize time on the road made for a longer and more challenging course this year.
The new route took away Lower Beaver Pass while adding Whip Me Snip Me, the wood bridge over Rainbow Creek, the twisting downhill to Bob's ReBob, the new Get Over It trail, and some additional sections of Emerald Forest before riding every inch of A River Runs Through It, including the new section that finishes at Rainbow Park.
Conditions were perfect on the west side of Alta Lake Road, but got a little slick in River after some rain a few days before. As a result of the added length, conditions and inevitable mechanicals a total of 16 racers did not finish or opted to skip a few sections.
Race winner Matt Ryan's time of 1:11:03 was more than 11 minutes slower than the previous year, while average times were about 15 to 30 minutes slower than in 2008.
Mike Vine of Squamish was a close second in 1:12:53 while Mike Boehm placed third overall in 1:15:27. Rounding out the top-10 were Jason Shorter, Chris Johnston, Andy Traslin, Ian Auld, Eric Crowe, Justin Harvey and Brett Grayston.
On the women's side Team Whistler rider Ann Yew took the checkered flag in 1:35:06, finishing 18 th overall, followed by Lesley Clements in 1:40:29 and Cathy Zeglinski third in 1:48:56. Rounding out the top 10 were Marla Zucht, Jennifer Tabbernor, Gloris Addario, Nicole Benes, Andrea O'Briend, Ashley Baker and Charmaine Lightfoot.
To put the longer course into perspective, Clements was roughly 18 minutes slower than her time of last year, while Zeglinski was more than 20 minutes behind her 2008 time.
There were just three junior riders this year, with Jesse Melamed placing first in 1:25:22 - 10 th overall - followed by Mahom Lamont in 1:48:36 and Felix Burke in 2:21:09.
Despite the added distance race organizer Phil Chew said the response to the course was mostly positive.
"Talking after the race the consensus was that this was a great course, it added a little more singletrack and took away some road sections which helped us with the marshalling," said Chew. "It's quite a bit longer, at least a couple of kilometres, but at this point of the season everybody is in pretty good shape and didn't seem to mind."
The race is a fundraiser for the B.C. Disabled Ski Team, of which Chew is the head coach, and roughly $3,000 from registration and raffle ticket sales will go to athlete grants to help cover costs associated with training and travelling to events.
As in past years the highlight was the raffle, where the top prize was a season pass donated by Whistler Blackcomb.
"Whistler Blackcomb has been a key supporter of the B.C. Disabled Ski Team, they make the program possible, and the pass has been one of the highlights of the West Side Wheel Up for a long time," said Chew.
More than 50 draw prizes were handed out, as well as other giveaways.