Runners were at their ready in Kaslo Saturday for the first day of the fifth annual Kootenay Suffer Fest.
Racers came from as far away as Edmonton, Salmon Arm, Kelowna, Revelstoke, Victoria, and New Zealand.
Athletes competed in the 10-km, 25-km and 50-km trail runs that began downtown and quickly climbed into the forest. There was great turn out for the kids events too.
The biggest race of them all is the 200-km Loonie Toonie trail run, the only bi-annual event, from Kaslo to New Denver over three days that can be done solo or as a team. Rory Luxmoore of Revelstoke won in a time of 20:07:36. Gary Williams of Calgary placed second with a time of 24:29:37 and Tamara Day of Surrey finished third in 26:45:26.
The suffering picked up in New Denver on Sunday with 14-km, 40-km and 100-km cross country mountain bike rides, plus the Idaho Peak Mountain Marathon.
The 43 kilometre mountain marathon had 19 runners depart from Centennial Park to the top of Idaho peak return for a total elevation gain and loss of 2,200 metres. It was not for the ill prepared. A few mandatory items racers had to carry included water, map, minimum of two energy bars, whistle and bear spray. Justin Nicholas of Kelowna placed first in 4:16:21. Nelson residents Greg Munby and Sebastion Hetu came in second and third respectively with times of 4:39:39 and 5:06:01.
Travis Hauck of Nelson finished fourth in the 100-km cross country mountain bike ride in 6:12:07.
Nakusp had the pleasure of hosting the new off-road duathlon (run-bike-run) and cyclocross events on Labour Day.
Nakusp resident Janis Neufeld is the race director of the event that draws over 500 participants. She has watched Sufferfest grow from 150 participants the first year to 600 at it’s entry peak two years ago.
Last years numbers were lower due to the rainy and snowy weather conditions which made for what Neufeld called “hypothermic conditions.”
It takes a year to plan this multiple day, multi-event by 230 volunteers with a core group of 20 people as team captains.
Neufeld said organizing the festival “is a lot of work but it’s worth it.”
What compelled Neufeld to create such an elaborate challenge?
“It’s a passion for me, I love getting people outdoors and healthy. I’m a racer and I find nature soothing. I get to watch all these people cross the finish line with smiles on their faces from their sense of accomplishment.”
Neufeld is a triathlete who just qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.