Trail running and exploring mountainous, remote terrain involves endurance, resiliency, positivity, and an immense respect for the spontaneous beauty of nature. Coast Mountain Trail Series’ (CMTS) Whistler Alpine Meadows (WAM) 2018 race organizers demonstrated these traits last week when an alternative course was required due to two grizzly bear encounters.
Less than ten days before the September 22nd trail race, Conservation Officer Service in consultation with the Ministry of Forestry, Land and Natural Resource Operations, the Resort Municipality, and area biologists closed Skywalk, Kevin’s Homerun, Screaming Cat Lake, and 19 mile creek, Lord of the Squirrels, Rainbow Lake, and Madeley Lake trails–all of which directly affected the WAM 12K, 25K, 55K, and 110K races. CMTS race directors Geoff Langford and Gary Robbins efficiently collaborated with permitting bodies to create an equally challenging and stunning course, which includes parts of Garibaldi Provincial Park.
As the CMTS team models what it takes to pull off a major trail ultrarunning event, the running community remains excited and positive about the changes. Sea to Sky local ultrarunner and environmental scientist Tara Holland is racing the 110km debut distance this year and is “Glad they’re doing this for the sake of the bears, but [she] can’t even imagine the stress for the organizing team.” Joanna Ford is traveling from Calgary, Alta. to race and was “Looking forward to running down Screaming Cat trail, just because I like the name, but I’m sure the new route will be nearly as fun.” Local Whistler endurance athlete Kristian Manietta says the revised route is “Something to savour!” As “It may be the only time we get to race up and over Whistler from two directions.”
Other local athletes include retired Vancouver Canuck players Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who are tackling their first ultramarathon (55km) this weekend.
Skywalk Trail as part of the original WAM route. Photo: Canadian Trail Running
The CMTS team has demonstrated endurance, resiliency, and respect for nature long before the start line. WAM 2018 will be a celebration of not only endurance runners, but the tireless efforts of CMTS and the local community. Whether you are racing, volunteering, cheering NHL players this weekend, or getting your Gary hug, the event is sure to leave many of us inspired.
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Attention: Lord of the Squirrels, Into the Mystic, On the Rocks, Happy Hour, and all trails above the Flank are now closed. The closure is to give our local neighbourhood grizzly bears some space to roam and fill their bellies to get ready for a long winter nap and to ensure we don't help habituate him to humans. It's nice to have these creatures back in our woods, so let's give them a chance to flourish. https://www.whistler.ca/services/environmental-stewardship/wildlife-updates/sproatt-alpine-network-and-rainbow-lake-trail