Kootenay Sufferfest brings the pain to Kaslo

About 70 athletes competed in the 12-km run Saturday as part of the weekend event.

Kids raced on foot and wheels during an event at the Kootenay Sufferfest in Kaslo on Saturday.

Nadine Duperron’s ideal birthday is celebrated by running a gruelling race that reminds her of her own mortality.

Duperron and her daughter, seven-year-old Willow Logan, drove from Osoyoos to Kaslo for the 12-kilometre run Saturday during the Kootenay Sufferfest. The pair could have chosen an event closer to home, but they had good reason to come to the West Kootenay.

“Because it landed on my birthday. It was meant to be,” said Duperron.

The mother-daughter pair trained beforehand, with Logan determined to match Duperron step for step. She wasn’t intimidated by the length of the race. “I’ve walked 10 km with her before and it was fun,” she said.

“I got into it and she just sort of joined along the way,” added Duperron. “It’s a special thing that we do, just the two of us.”

Duperron and Logan were among the roughly 70 athletes competing in the race. The 12-km event was only a stroll compared to the 50-km marathon earlier Saturday morning, which also featured kid’s races.

Mountain bike events took over New Denver in Sunday, while Nakusp held several races Monday that incorporated both running and cycling.

Sufferfest currently runs over five separate weekends throughout the year, but event founder Janis Neufeld said she’s hoping to expand to 10 events in 2017. Neufeld started Sufferfest seven years ago in Kaslo, and Saturday she made a point of thanking local residents prior to the race.

“This community only has 1,000 people and we’ve needed up to 200 volunteers to make this event happen,” said Neufeld. “Take a city and it’s hard to get 200 volunteers. Now take a community of 1,000 and try and gather 200 volunteers. It’s amazing that we can get that many.”

Neufeld lives in Nakusp now, but Kaslo remains close to her heart. She recalled Kaslo Hotel approaching her and her husband, Shon, about starting an event to help boost tourism.

“I went, ‘Well, let’s do a trail run,’ and my husband was like, ‘No, let’s do a mountain bike race’ and we were like, let’s do both,” said Janice Neufeld. “And then we’d sit around and be laughing about, ‘Oh, let’s make them do this. This will be hard.’

“Because there’s no easy trails around here. They’re beautiful, but they are hilly and they are challenging. So we just started joking about how they’d suffer, and oh this would be a real sufferfest, and it stuck. That was seven Sufferfests ago.”

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