The Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run is one of the most challenging off-road runs in B.C., if not all of Canada, covering 48 km of the Baden-Powell Centennial Trail from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove. Not only is the trail steep and technical, the climbs are relentless with about 7,500 metres of climbing and descending from start to finish.
This year’s race was made a little tougher by the presence of snow in the upper alpine sections, which made both running and following trail markers difficult.
Although several runners were gunning for the course record of four hours, 42 minutes and 37 seconds set by Whistler’s Kevin Titus in 2003, the snow and muddy sections slowed the field down.
Peter Findlay, who holds four of the top-10 times for the course and raced in the 40 to 49 age category, placed first overall with a time of 4:53:26. Oliver Utting, racing in 39 and under, was second in 4:57:46, while Squamish’s Aaron Heidt — who set a new record on the Comfortably Numb Trail Run on June 22 — was third in 4:59:01. Heidt was leading for the first part of the race and was on record pace, but he was eventually passed by the other two runners who are both veterans of the course.
The top female was Nicola Gildersleeve, who placed eighth overall and first out of 37 women in 5:50:44. Mel Bos was second among women and 13 th overall in 6:02:42, and Natalie Stafl third and 20 th in 6:15:31.
Three Whistler athletes raced this year. Duncan Munro, racing in his third Knee Knacker, was 14 th overall and ninth in the men’s 39 and under category.
He had hoped to finish in the top-10 but was one of the runners that got turned around in the snow section on Cypress and lost time finding the trail again. He also had stomach troubles through the middle part of the race that cleared up after he vomited three times. As well, he had a fall on the last descent.
“I’m just happy I survived,” he said. “I was happy I was able to run consistently, and I was happy I finished. It’s one of the gnarliest runs in the world, so just getting to the end is an accomplishment.”
Munro is in training for the TransRockies Run, which goes from Beaver Creek to Vail in Colorado. The total distance is about 200 km from start to finish, broken into six stages. Each day is roughly the equivalent of a marathon, at altitudes that range from 2,500 to 4,300 metres. He will race with a female partner as Team Salomon.
The Knee Knacker was a training run for that event, said Munro, which was why he followed up the Knacker this year by running the last stage of the Squamish Triathlon as part of a relay team.
“That’s what I have to be able to do in Colorado, run on back-to-back days even when I’m exhausted from the day before,” he said. Ultra runner and adventure racer Jen Segger is helping him to set up a program that lets him recover between days of racing.
“The worst part of the Squamish triathlon was the bridge they built over the road. The last thing I wanted to see after the Knee Knacker was more stairs.”
Walter Wallgram, racing in the 50 to 59 age category, was 19 th overall in 6:14:52.
Catherine O’Neill was 13 th among women and 10 in women’s 39 and under with a time of 6:39:28.