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World Champion runners-up in Cheakamus Challenge field

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Sydor, Hesjedal among athletes in race

Registration for the 2003 Cheakamus Challenge Fall Classic Mountain Bike Race is already well ahead of last year, with 250 signed up more than 10 days before the event on Sept. 20.

Organizer Grant Lamont says the numbers would have been even higher without the recent trail closures in the region due to the fire hazard.

"Registration slowed down a lot recently because there was a lot of uncertainty if the race was going to go at all, and some people were concerned that they wouldn’t have time to train," he said. "Well, the race is going ahead as planned, and we should have the course marked by this weekend so people can ride it."

Several members of the national team are expected to turn out for this race, which is the last epic mountain bike race of the season for many at 71 kilometres, with more than 2,200 vertical metres of climbing. Although Lamont still had to confirm several names with Yury Kashirin, the coach for the Canadian national team, he has heard that Alison Sydor and Ryder Hesjedal, both silver medal winners last weekend in the world mountain bike championships in Switzerland, will be competing.

The course will be improved this year with the addition of the Trash singletrack trail just south of Function Junction, and by improvements to the Northwest Passage trail.

The aid stations on the course will also be improved this year, with the signing of Powerade to a three-year contract. They will be supplying the racers with Powerade, power bars and power gels.

One improvement that Lamont is particularly proud of is the after party, which will take place once again at the Brewhouse. Billed as the Brewhouse Bash, the celebration will get underway with a biker buffet barbecue, where you can load up your plate for just $7.50. The barbecue will begin at 4 p.m. and run until 8 p.m.

In between, the Cheakamus Challenge awards will be presented at 6 p.m. with more than $10,000 in cash and prizes for the racers and volunteers. Following the awards, the WORCA Year Ender party will begin with live music and the induction of some deserving WORCA members into the Whistler Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. All WORCA members are invited to come out to celebrate the season, whether you participated in the Cheakamus Challenge or not.

The race itself gets underway at 10 a.m. on Sept. 20 at Squamish Airport and finishes at the village base of Whistler Mountain. You can register online at www.cheakamuschallenge.ca, or pick up an entry form at almost every local bike shop. Pre-registration is recommended, although you can register on the morning of the race for an added fee.

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