Grouse Mountain takes us to our highest point on the Yeti circuit topping out at 4,500ft on the summit of Dam Mountain. The 800ft climb from the start line is a wall of white that athletes took on and conquered. Unlike many of our courses that are nestled through sub alpine tree lines Grouse is a big up and over. With the weather working in our favor it was going to be a special day.
It should be known that the 10k was not 10k, it was closer to 8 .75k with the 5k was closer to 6k. The reality is The Yeti wants to offer the best possible course first, distance second. And with over 800ft of climbing off the start line who needs 10? It is not about the distance but more the quality of the snowshoe experience. For the record all other Yeti courses are measured with a GPS and are 5k and 10k.
As course designer I was expecting to get my butt kicked not by the step climb but by all the participants that I made go up and over. But it was not the case, in all my years of designing snowshoe race courses this was one of the most well received ever. The feedback was all about the element of adventure, it was a back country experience that caught everyone’s attention. Competitors enjoyed endless views starring out across the Coast Mountain Range.
Maybe some were looking at the view but Jason Terauchi Loutitt (JT) was focused on the task at hand, “three for three”. JT lit it up and never looked back, setting the fastest time on the day 47:26. Jeff Riemer from Team Helly Hansen had a strong day setting the second fastest time of 49:56. Shaun Stephens Whales running in the junior ranks came in 3rd place overall in 50:30.
In the women’s field new comer Tamsin Anstey racing with Team Yeti made her mark winning her first Yeti race in a time of 58:09. Once again team Helly Hansen is having a strong year with Carey Sather crossing the line in 1:01 and Kristen Magnusson another HH athlete finished in 1:05.
This exceptional venue has highlighted the potential future of the sport. Is snowshoe racing more than completing a 5k or 10k circuit? Competitors are hungry for the real thing. Mountain running with cold air burning the lungs, soft fresh snow under foot might be the future of snowshoe racing.
Thank you to Grouse Mountain and all the volunteers for helping to make the third of four so much fun! That’s right, Cypress Mountain is hosting the series final on March 7. Keep shoe’n, stay fit because you want to save your best for last!
Photos courtesy John Crosby.