Nine kilometres, 1,550 vertical metres of descent, and in the end it came down to 13 seconds.
That was the gap that separated Marty Schaffer and Logan Marsh in the first ever Martha Creek Meltdown race down the demanding Sale Mountain trail on Saturday.
In the end, Schaffer emerged victorious, starting first and clocking an impressive time of 24:21.58. Marsh was just behind him at 24:34.66 and Stu Dickson, 16, finished third in a time of 25:37.62.
“This trail was the trail that made me want to move to Revelstoke,” said Schaffer after the race. “The first time riding it 5-6 years ago, half-way down you could see the glaciated peaks in the distance, you’re riding in the alpine, the coolest thing ever.
“When Izzy first announced the event it was obvious I had to race”
The Martha Creek Meltdown served as a fundraiser for the Live It! Love It! Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing sports opportunities for disabled people. It was organized by Izzy Lynch, the executive director of the foundation. She had the help of dozens of volunteers, who manned checkpoints, worked the timing, did first aid and shuttled riders.
The Martha Creek trail starts near the summit of Sale Mountain with a rocky descent before crossing through several boulder-strewn alpine meadows. After more descent, the trail crosses some boardwalks over a marsh before the real descent begins – endless single track with a mix of steep, technical bits, tight switchbacks, exposed sidehill and and more. And just as it eases up, your hands start to cramp and the last stretch hammers you with roots before the final descent through yet more rocks.
Most riders agreed that the toughest part was the hands cramping up lower down and with no real spots to relax, the only way to rest up was to stop and lose time.
“I think everybody can agree you get to the bottom and your hands get so numb, you’re breathing so heavy and you’re waiting for that bottom to come,” said Schaffer.
Emma Mains was the fastest woman in a time of 47:45:46, beating out Amanda McCullagh and Sarah Peterson, who rounded out the podium.
A brave 13 racers added to the pain by cycling up the 15-kilometre logging road to the top before starting the descent. Peter Knight had the fastest time in the enduro race, completing both sections in a fast time of 2:07:53. Martin Lafontaine finished second in 2:11:27 and Nate Briggs was third, exactly one minute behind Lafontaine.
Jacqui Coward won the women’s enduro in a time of 2:32:47, beating out Annie Gornall and Jessica Stoner, who were second and third respectively.
“It was a really beautiful day. It was a really nice climb, but kind of long,” said Coward after receiving her award for first place – a grab bag of goodies from the North Face. “I’m a climber. The downhill, I didn’t really have a downhill back so it was a little bit more challenging but still a really awesome feeling and it was pretty fun.”
After the race, competitors, volunteers and spectators gathered at Martha Creek Provincial Park for a little party. Stephanie Clifford and Billie-Jo Porter played music, Amy Guidinger from Helios provided the racers with massages, Zoya Lynch gave a yoga lesson, the Taco Club sold food, Meghan Tabor made smoothies, prizes were given out and the awards were announced.
“Today was awesome,” said Lynch. “The weather totally co-operated and we had an amazing crew come out to race. It’s really cool, really positive vibes and everything went amazingly smoothly. I couldn’t imagine it better.”