The organizers of the North Face Whistler Half Marathon knew they had a hit on their hands last year when all of the spots were snapped up in the first three months, with the last spots going the day before the early bird prices were up.
This year's race has eclipsed that with organizers adding another 250 spots to make an even 1,000 and the event selling out in less than a month.
Race director Dave Clark said the interest in the event has been from far and wide. Some 42 per cent of runners are from Sea to Sky and 38 per cent from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. However, the other 20 per cent is made up of runners from Washington State, and a total of five countries, six provinces and six U.S. states will also be represented in the event.
"The popularity of destination runs is evident, not just here in Whistler but around the globe," said Clark. "Recent proof of this is the Honolulu Marathon which ran in December with over 19,000 runners in the full marathon distance, as well as this past weekend at the ING Miami Marathon where over 25,000 people took part."
The 21.1km half marathon race takes place on June 2, and starts and finishes at Whistler Olympic Plaza. It follows a mix of residential roads and valley trail and does have a few hilly sections in the first half of the course — notably the section that winds through the Blueberry and Alta Vista subdivisions, and then follows the Valley Trail around the Whistler Golf Club. The course map is available online at www.whistlerhalfmarathon.com.
Some $5 from every entry fee will go towards the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada.
In addition to the half marathon race, organizers are hosting a Little Rippers Kids Run this year with a one-kilometre course in the village for kids aged five to nine. Registration for that event is online as well, and available for $10. The fee includes a race package and t-shirt.
Spartan Race confirmed for Squamish
The surge in obstacle course races has been huge recently, with Whistler hosting a Warrior Dash event in 2011 and a Tough Mudder this summer on June 23 and 24. Squamish is also getting into the action, and hosting a Spartan Race on Sept. 22, 2012.
The Spartan race will take place at Brennan Park Campground, with the first heats leaving at 10 a.m.
The course is 12km on a mix of trails, with several obstacle sections including mud crawls, fire jumping, weight dragging, clearing a gauntlet of foam battle sticks and more.
There are more than 30 Spartan Races around the world.
Registration is at www.spartanrace.com. Registration is $80 per person or $280 for a team of four or more.
The racers will leave in heats, with the first heat of 250 reserved for competitive racers getting underway at 10 a.m. The fastest runners are expected to take around 90 minutes with all the on-course challenges.
Tough Mudder course online
The Tough Mudder off-road obstacle course race in Whistler takes place on June 23 and 24 at Whistler Olympic Park. The 16-kilometre course for the event, expected to take about three hours to complete, has been posted online at www.toughmudder.com.
There will be roughly 22 obstacles on course, including the Swamp Stomp, a series of 12-foot walls, a mud crawl, a culvert crawl, a hill climb, a rope crossing over water, a jump into a pond, a "Bog Jog" where runners will go through a swamp while navigating obstacles, log obstacles and more. There are two mystery obstacles along the way.
The Tough Mudder is $110 to enter until Mar. 1 when the cost goes up $15. If you race both days the second day is half-off.
NimbyFifty to grow, add timed Red Bull descent
The third annual Nimby Fifty race in Pemberton will be a little different than past years.
For one, organizers have increased the number of available spots to 400 — up from 300 in 2011. The 400 will be a hard cap, based on the trails and other logistics.
And then there's the new title sponsor, the Soze Group, which distributes sporting goods.
The prize money will also be increased with $4,000 up for grabs and $1,000 each for the top male and female.
But one of the biggest announcements this year is the new race-within-a-race hosted by Red Bull — a timed descent on Overnight Sensation, with a $250 prize for the winner, and an entry in another Red Bull downhill.
The 2012 Nimby Fifty is scheduled for May 26 in Pemberton, once again based out of the North Arm Farm. The selection of trails will be a little different this year with a new section of trail from the top of Big Nimby to the road near the start to Overnight Sensation.
Online registration opens on Feb. 15 at 4:20 p.m., starting at $50. For more, visit www.nimbyfifty.com.