By Sarah Newton
The fifth annual Kootenay Sufferfest took place this past Labour Day Weekend. It is arguably the premier sporting event in the Kootenays, as it encompasses the three communities of Kaslo, New Denver, and Nakusp, and is made up of 16 different races.
All events are on rugged trails that offer a variety of options: mountain biking, running, cyclocross, a costumed criterium, and duathlons. More than 500 athletes came from not only this region but also the Lower Mainland and Alberta. This year there were a number of riders and runners from as far away as Quebec and Ontario.
The sheer number of choices and the incredible scenery were a draw for young and old. The oldest participant was an 82-year-old runner who ran the 10 kilometre trail race, and there were a dozen preschoolers who took part in the children’s biking and running events.
Organizer Janis Neufeld personifies this event. She seemed to be everywhere at once: welcoming athletes at sign in, announcing directions at the start line, giving a giant hug to everyone who crossed the finish line, and being there at each awards ceremony with draw prizes, giant hand made trophies, cookie medals, and beautiful hand made pottery medals for adults. Putting in 18 hour shifts on the race days did nothing to diminish her good cheer and organizational savvy.
The Sufferfest race stands out in North America because while serious competition takes place, so does a huge value on participation and fun. Volunteers are treated with reverence, being thanked by each athlete, and in turn, each volunteer cheering on athletes, by name, not just because athlete names appear on racer number plates, but because so many people, both competitors and volunteers alike, come back year after year. What race has a volunteer receiving line at the end of the awards ceremony where each athlete can personally thank each volunteer?
Race announcer Sheena Miller (who will cover the Kona Ironman this year) knows athlete and volunteer stories and shares them all weekend with a wit and candour that makes each race seem interactive and unique. As well, Neufeld goes out of her way to make sure there is an event for every age, on each day of the weekend.
Revelstoke athletes faired extremely well over the course of the weekend. Stand out results include Beth Granstrom’s mountain bike race. She outraced most adult men and women for a very impressive second place overall result.
Rory Luxmoore spent the season training for Sufferfest’s premier event, the 200 kilometre Loonie Toonie trail running race. He was certainly ready. With five a.m. starts, more than 7,000 metres of elevation gain, and 22 hours of running over three days of technical single track, and a course that included Idaho Peak, Buchanan Mountain, and the Milford Traverse in the Selkirk Mountains.
Luxmoore won the race by more than four hours and commented, “I am really surprised how well my body did out there. I thought I would have some major cramping to overcome on the weekend, but they never came. I have extremely sore and tired legs but I am realizing that maybe this kind of distance is what my body is built for.”
Perhaps the terrain around Revelstoke is the perfect training venue, or there is something in our water. The last winner of this race is a fellow Revelstokian, Madeleine Martin-Preney who completed the race in 2012.
Gold seemed to be the colour of choice for the Luxmoore clan this year: 11-year-old Nelson and nine-year-old Alexandra won all three of their events over the weekend, and Sarah Newton (the author) won the 50 kilometre women’s trail run in just over 5.5 hours.
In the event’s second most gruelling event — the 100 kilometre mountain bike ride — Revelstoke’s Chris Bovard finished an impressive 11th. He said he was “demolished” after and said the new course was harder than in years past.
Local speedster, runner and Ironman finisher, Ann-Marie Gill, who is a well known sufferer at the Sufferfest decided to try her hand at something different this year and raced the 100 kilometre mountain bike event. She finished a strong third place in the women’s race, in a gruelling event that Gill knew intimately from previous years of running over many of the same trails.
Here’s a complete look at how Revelstoke’s competitors did over the weekend. For complete results visit results.sportstats.ca/find-an-athlete-find-a-race-search.php?lang=eng&race=suffer+fest
15 km Mountain Bike Race
1st Beth Granstrom, in age group, 2nd overall
1st Nelson Luxmoore in age group, 4th overall
1st Alexandra Luxmoore in age group
1st Penny Page-Brittin in age group
1st Jaclyn Elliott in age group
2nd Kate Granstrom in age group
2nd Bev Brosch in age group
2nd Rebecca Brosch in age group
3rd Kevan McCroy, in age group
40 km Mountain Bike Race
9th Richard Brittin, in age group
16th Mike Welch, in age group
100 km Mountain Bike Race
3rd Ann-Marie Gill, in age group (4th overall female)
1st Marnie Graf, in age group (6th overall female)
3rd Chris Bovard, in age group (11th overall male)
8th Chris Argue, in age group
10 km Trail Run
1st Kate Granstrom, in age group, 2nd overall female
1st Nelson Luxmoore, in age group
1st Brynn Hoshizaki, in age group
1st Alexandra Luxmoore, in age group
2nd Beth Granstrom, in age group
2nd Jaclyn Elliott, in age group
3rd Rebecca Brosch, in age group
6th Bev Brosch, in age group
9th Kevan McCroy, in age group
25 km Trail Run
1st Mary Clayton, in age group
2nd Ryan Gill in age group, 6th overall
2nd Jess Carroll in age group, 4th overall woman
3rd Richard Brittin, in age group
5th Penny Page-Brittin, in age group
Idaho Peak 46 km Mountain Marathon
1st Robyn Hooper, in age group (7th overall woman)
50 km Trail Run
1st Sarah Newton 1st overall female (6th overall)
3rd Debbie Koerber, in age group
Loonie Toonie 200 km Trail Run
1st Rory Luxmoore overall, 22 hours 14 minutes
Junior Off-Road Duathlon (2km run, 10 km bike, 2 km run)
1st Nelson Luxmoore, in age group, solo
2nd Jaclyn Elliott, in age group, solo
1st Erik Brosch, in age group, solo
1st Alexandra Luxmoore and Rebecca Brosch relay
Off-Road Duathlon (5 km run, 20 km bike, 5 km run)
1st Brynn Hoshizaki, Beth Granstrom, team relay
1st Debbie Koerber, in age group
2nd Mary-Joy Marshall, in age group
2nd Kevan McCroy, in age group
3rd Elizabeth Elliott, Kate Granstrom team relay
2.5 km Kid’s Mountain Bike Race
2nd Tobin Gill
3rd Nicholas Gill
2nd Livia McMechan
4th Sela McMechan
With a note from Alex Cooper/Revelstoke Times Review