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Ultra distance trail running champ takes 5 Peaks

Race winner plans to return to Whistler to become a resident



The winner of the 5 Peaks event in Whistler wasn't even planning to be here last weekend.

But when a friend mentioned the race to Jason Schlarb, 34, the ultra marathon runner looked into it and decided to adjust his travel plans. Schlarb has been travelling around North America with his wife and his 19-month old son since May.

He said he and his wife delayed a trip to Seattle and extended their stay in Whistler so he could take part in the 10k Enduro trail run. The decision paid off with a win as he covered the course in 54 minutes and 50 seconds. Schlarb was more than 90 seconds faster than his nearest competitor in the alpine race.

"The loop trail was actually perfect, high alpine, lots of technical climbing on single track trails," said Schlarb. "That is the kind of running I love to do the most. It was spectacular going by the lakes and over that kind of terrain... high alpine."

His participation in the 5 Peaks race came on the heels of competing in the Squamish 50 event on Aug. 11.

Schlarb said he and his wife are avid runners and skiers and they love the Whistler area, so much so that they plan to move here next summer while he takes courses at Quest University in Squamish.

He was living in Boulder, CO until he and his wife packed their life and their son, Felix, up for a travel adventure that will continue this fall with a biking tour around New Zealand.

Schlarb won the 2011 U.S. Men's 50 Mile Trail Championships and set the course record in taking the win.

Melanie Sakowski of Toronto won the women's Enduro with a time of 1:14:48.

Eric Carter of Squamish was the fastest Sea to Sky resident with a time of 59:55, which was good for fourth place in the Enduro. Ashley McMillan of Whistler finished 12th overall with a time of 1:08:03.

Marcus Ribi of Richmond won the shorter Sport course in a time of 34:23 and the fastest female was Brenda Stratton of Pitt Meadows with a time of 43:21.

Fresh off an age group win in Just Another Bike Race, Whistler's Jesse Melamed was the fastest Whistler resident in the Sport competition. His time was 39:38 and he was fifth over the finish line. Pemberton's Joe Davie topped the 10 to 14 year age group with a time of 41:39. He was 11th overall in the Sport race.

Jennifer Tabbernor of Whistler was the fastest Sea to Sky woman with a time of 48:19.

Event organizer Chris Colpitts said the event was fantastic with just over 450 people registered.

While the numbers were down a little from last year, Colpitts said the field seemed to be a little faster this year than last.

This was the 12th running of the 5 Peaks in Whistler and the highlight of the day for him was the kids' race.

"It is our most challenging children's course on our circuit," said Colpitts. "Being at the top of the mountain, you make your first step and you are on a trail network."

At the other races the kids simply run around the event parking lot so Colpitts said the logistics were a challenge.

"Definitely my favourite part of the day is watching the kids pushing it with smiles on their faces," Colpitts said.

The 5 Peaks series picks up again on Sept 29 at Bunzten Lake for the final event of the B.C. 5 Peaks series.

Colpitts is now preparing for the Meet Your Maker ultra distance running event scheduled for this weekend on Whistler Blackcomb and throughout the valley (See page 70 for details).