Year 7 of the Whistler Half Marathon will be heavenly for some runners looking to go the distance.
As registration opens for the race, athletes will see a brand-new option for the coming year as a new 30-kilometre race has been added.
Race director Dave Clark explained that in past years he's received feedback from those looking to race a distance longer than the 21.1-km half marathon, but the runners aren't quite ready to double the distance.
"Listening to past participants' feedback, some folks wanted to do something that was longer, so we looked at a bunch of different options for that. Another comment we get from a lot of runners in general is they do a half marathon but then they're looking for that next distance, but going to a full marathon often is very daunting," Clark said. "We'll give the 30K a try and see what the response (is) and in the first couple of days here, it's been great.
"If we got a couple hundred people, we'd be very excited with that. Being able to draw more runners into Whistler is the goal."
Clark noted that with the new distance being added, it made sense to make all the changes at the same time.
"The idea of changing courses has always been there. We always knew when we designed the original one that at some point in time, we would make a change," Clark said. "You need to get a number of years under your belt and see what the feedback is on courses — what people like, what people don't like, what's going to really draw people — and then build on that.
"We felt that going into our seventh year, maybe it was time for a bit of a refresh on the courses."
The major change to the course is all races will use the Lost Lake trails in some capacity to give participants more of a "nature experience" than they would have received on the previous route.
"People from out of town, they may have seen some parts of Lost Lake — they may have walked up or ridden their bike up in the past — but they're going to see other parts of the park that maybe they haven't seen before."
Clark, a 17-year Whistler resident, said when he personally goes for a run in the resort, they generally aren't exclusively road runs or trail runs, but a blend of both. While the race had come to be known as more of a road run, the chance was there to mesh the two.
"Your run almost always takes you on gravel or some sort of trail so how do we make that into an experience? We're not focused on being a road run specifically or a trail run specifically. We're focused on a unique Whistler running experience and being a runner here for all this time, that's one thing I know. I'm not always on one or the other," Clark said. "Running on pavement all the time can be tough on knees and other body parts. People are moving towards running on more trail and softer surfaces, so I think it's something people are going to be pretty stoked about."
Registration for the 2017 race, which is slated for June 3, opened on Jan. 1. For more, including all the new courses, visit www.whistlerhalfmarathon.com.