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Whistler runners climb with the best of them

Three Whistler runners reach podium in Five Peaks race



You could attribute the success of Whistler runners in last Saturday’s Five Peaks run to home field advantage, but it’s difficult to imagine any of the competitors running from the base of Whistler to the Roundhouse Lodge in 28 degree weather on a regular basis.

"That was awful," laughed Whistler’s Kristina Rody. Rody scrambled up the 10 kilometre course with its almost 1,200 vertical metres of terrain in just one hour, two minutes and 11 seconds – to finish 11 th overall and first among women at the latest stop of the Five Peaks Trail Running Series

"The first half up to the Olympic Station was really easy, but that second half was all up hill. Lower Franz’s was really awful. Everything hurt going up that thing.

"I actually got kind of mad at the course, which I think helped me a little. I just wanted to get it over with as fast as possible."

Rody is one of the top 10K runners in Canada, and recently branched off into marathons and cross-country races with similar success. By winning in Whistler she also qualified to join the Canadian Team at the World Mountain Running Championships in Italy this September.

She says she will have to think about whether or not to accept a position with the team. Not only does she have a lot of important races to consider in the fall, she also was accepted for a Masters program on rural planning and development at the University of Guelph.

"I don’t really know what I’ll do, or if it even makes sense to go, but I’ll definitely think about it," said Rody.

The top time of the day belonged to Winnipeg runner Jason Loutitt, who had already qualified for the World Mountain Running Championships with a strong showing at the North American Championships earlier in the year. He was the first runner out of the gate, and the first runner across the finish line with a time of 52:49, which was almost four minutes faster than his next closest competitor. He then followed his run with a cool-down jog around the high alpine of Whistler Mountain.

How does a runner from flat Winnipeg go on to beat a field of Canada’s top cross-country and marathon runners in a mountain running competition?

"There’s one hill in Winnipeg where I fit my interval workouts in, but I was born in Trail (B.C.) so I think the mountains must be in my blood," said Loutitt.

He has only been in three races to date, not including his first race in 1999, which happened to be the toughest leg of the annual Banff to Jasper relay.