In its inaugural year, a total of 95 people signed up for the Comfortably Numb Trail Run, a 25 km (approximately) grunt on Whistlers newest epic bike trails.
Word travels fast. This year the organizers have already signed up 120 runners and with just days to go before Sunday (June 26) more forms are coming in every day. If the weather is good, organizers are expecting up to 20 more people on the day of the race getting close to the self-imposed limit of 150 participants.
"If it rains, I think it will be pretty quiet at the start, but if its sunny I think well see a lot of last-minute people at the start," said David Higgins, who is helping to organize the race.
The organizers will accept entries right up to the start of the race, providing the runners bring the $50 entry fee in cash. All participants, signed up or not, can catch a bus ride to the start line at Wedgemont parking lot from the finish at Spruce Grove at 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. for the 9 a.m. start.
Prizes will be awarded for the top three men and women in the Under 40, 40-49, and Over 50 age groups. Awards will be presented at 1 p.m. at Spruce Grove Field House.
Despite the distance and difficulty, the top runners are expected in at around two hours, while the last runners crossed the line at the four-hour mark.
Trail conditions are reported as good, and the trail will be marked on Friday and Saturday.
There is only one water station, at the halfway point, all of which is being brought in on foot, and runners are encouraged to bring their own water and food, and anything else they might need to get through the race.
"Its a trail run, but in a lot of ways its more like an adventure race because you have to carry everything in, theres just the one aid station," said Higgins.
Higgins has run the route several times and while there is no substitute for training he says its a good strategy to pace yourself.
"Its a long way, and it feels much longer than it actually is because of the trail. You dont want to go too hard out of the start and blow up before you get to the halfway point," he said.
"Its hard because the toughest climb of the race is near the beginning, all of the other climbs after that are a lot milder. Theres a lot of climbing, but its not the same steep and leg-burning climb out of the start."
The downhill is also challenging, but Higgins gives the same advice he would give to a mountain biker look ahead, and keep your speed under control. "You dont want to go flying off any sharp corners on a bike, and you dont want to do it running either. Always watch your footing," he said.
Comfortably Numb organizers are still looking for a few volunteers to help out on race day. If youre interested, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Comfortably Numb run is the first event in the Sea 2 Sky Trail Running Series, which includes the 67 km Squamish STORMY on Aug. 13, the 6 and 15 km Loop the Lakes at Alice Lake Provincial Park, and the 25 km Rubble Creek Run just south of Whistler on Sept. 25. Points will be awarded after every event, and an overall series winner will be crowned after the last race.