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Samurai of Singletrack returns



Last year an incredible 91 out of 96 entries in the first Samurai of Singletrack mountain bike challenge made it to the finish line – too many according to race organizer Tony Horn.

"Obviously things would have been different if it rained, but maybe the course was a little too easy."

This year Horn plans to make things a little more challenging for the Samurai riders. Last year’s course was 43 kilometres in length and included 19 of Whistler’s more challenging singletrack bike trails. The course this year will be 50 km. Horn is also keeping the route a secret until the last minute.

"I’m not going to announce it until two days before the ride," he said. "One reason is to build a little mystery around the race. I’ve already had people calling me and asking me what the route is going to be.

"The second reason is because some people were pre-riding the course last year, and knew what their times were going to be within four minutes. We want people to go out there with no idea what they’re getting into."

Not that last year’s Samurai was a leisurely pedal through the park. The fastest time belonged to Whistler’s Lucas Curran, an extreme off-road triathlon competitor who cleared the course in three hours 49 minutes. The fastest woman in the ride was long distance athlete Nikki Kassel in approximately five and a half hours. The slowest ride, eight hours 53 minutes, belonged to Dave Pilling, who suffered four flats and seven tumbles, and had to remove his large chain ring when he bent it on a rock.

The Samurai of Singletrack isn’t a race but rather a test geared to locals to find out who has the skills and the fitness to be a samurai warrior. The sheer length of the ride, combined with the number of steep singletrack ascents, descents and technical sections, easily makes the Samurai one of the most challenging rides you’ll find anywhere.

Horn and co-organizer Ru Mehta created the Samurai for Whistler riders who enjoy riding singletrack but aren’t necessarily into the long uphill grinds associated with the Squamish Test of Metal and the Cheakamus Challenge. Last year’s event, which was limited to 100 spaces, sold out in the first few weeks. Almost as soon as it was over, riders started asking Horn about this year.

"It’s going to sell out fast," he said. "We’d rather keep it small and local with 100 riders, and have the dinner and samurai ceremony at Teppan Village, than see it grow into another Test of Metal with 800 people."

Registration for this year’s Samurai began at the July 11 WORCA Loonie Race, but will be limited to participants in last year’s ride until Aug. 1. After Aug. 1, entry will be open for the rest of the public on a first come, first served basis.

If the race fills up early you will be put on a waiting list, but there are no guarantees you’ll get in.

The course will be announced at the last Loonie Race of the season on Sept. 12.

The ride is expected to take between four and eight hours to complete, and athletes are expected to come prepared for anything. That means tools, patch kids, food and water. There will be water stations on the course, but they will be spread out.

The entry fee is $75 for WORCA members and $85 for non-members. It’s more expensive than last year’s ride, which lost money, but it includes a mesh riding jersey, and dinner at Teppan Village with complimentary beverages. Any profits will be channelled back into the ride.

Entry forms will be available at WORCA events leading up to the race, or at Slopeside Supply in Function Junction.

If you are interested in volunteering to help run the race, contact Tony Horn at 604-932-2869.

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