What is usually the most scenic section of the Rubble Creek Classic trail was this year's most extreme, with runners facing snow, sleet, hail and howling winds as they crossed the cinder flats connecting the Helm Creek Trail to the Rubble Creek descent on the backside of Black Tusk.
Race director James Retty, who has been organizing the event for the last 11 of its 26 years, said the conditions were the worst he's seen.
"People have run on snow and we've had rain, but this was a real Whistler alpine day where they got a bit of everything," he said.
The men's race was a two-way battle from almost start to finish, with ultra runner Adam Campbell placing first in a time of 1:59:45. He spent most of the race arm's length from Edward McCarthy, pulling away on the final descent. McCarthy finished in 2:00:02, with Seamus Frew placing third in 2:09:24.
"Ed was there pretty much every step of the way, so it was a blast," said Campbell. "We were definitely pushing each other, but I think I was a little faster on the eight kilometre downhill session and I managed to get away near the bottom."
Campbell was glad he dressed for the cold, but said there was no way to avoid getting wet - especially with a mandatory creek crossing where the water was running higher than the stepping stones placed there by hikers.
"My feet were frozen and wet anyway, so I just ran through it," he said. "My feet were ice blocks afterwards. I froze my ass off going over the top, but just put my head down pushed through it. I'd never been up there and wasn't sure exactly where to go, I just hoped I was going the right way."
Campbell had never done the race before and wants to come back and run it again on a day when you can actually see the peaks.
"It's really different, there's not too many races around at altitude like this," he said. "You can feel the blood in your veins and every little climb your heart rate spikes. It's one of the best races around."
McCarthy said he would definitely be back to train in the area, and was already planning an ultra loop next year that would run from the Garibaldi parking lot to Cheakamus Lake parking lot, and around the Rubble Creek Classic route back to his car.
He also wants to practice the descent. "It was crazy. You'd be going flat out, then would have to get yourself back under control, come to a complete stop at the switchback and then accelerate again. You had to do this over and over," he said.