An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: Preparing for a quiet week in the mountains!

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So having lived, played and worked our way through the party that was the huge free-ride biking festival, Crankworx, we now have the opportunity to kick back, relax and enjoy a nice quiet peaceful time in the mountains…or have we?

We’ve just come through an incredulously busy long weekend (yes…another one!), escapees from all over BC and beyond, in part for the Canadian BBQ championships, in part for the great weekend weather and opportunity to ‘getaway’. Whatever their excuse, it culminated in a hectic, at times a little frantic, patio indulging weekend of excess for many!

So why is this week any different? Well, there is the small matter of multiple events being staged in and around Whistler. There is the small matter of the ‘Tenderfoot Boogie trail race in which I’m running, starting some 50km just north of Squamish (town between Whistler & Vancouver) and ends here in Whistler – a lot of uphill folks! There is also the increasingly popular ‘Warrior Dash’ series which hits us the same day. This is a 3 mile (ish) assault course that’ll see contestants in their thousands taking part here in Whistler’s first ever holding of this event. This event is the inaugural staging here in town, but it has gained something of a cult following around North America. Folks love the ‘thrill’ of scrambling under barbed wire, crossing burning obstacles, overcoming huge wooden fences, crossing streams with precarious tightropes, rappelling, etc, etc.

This Warrior Dash series is so popular these days, that events such as the one to be staged here, has to have many staggered start times for the competitors and teams to accommodate them all. This promises to be an entertaining day if nothing else, with beautiful sun forecast, warm temperatures (none of which I particularly want for running 50km!) and accessible beer. Should keep the masses content I would say!

Another big event is the new ‘Ride of the Valkyries’. This is a mountain bike race over 55km of outstanding local single-track biking trails in this ‘re-branded’ annual biking race. Epic trail riding over some of the finest, technical biking trails that this part of the world has to offer. They won’t come much better than this. For the record, this used to be a longer race of over 70km when I raced it over the last few years, so it will be interesting to see how the participants feel about it (now it’s easier).

For those looking to merely relax around Whistler and not work themselves to death and injury with ultra trail runs, bikes races or challenging obstacles, There are also a couple of free concerts taking place in the newly staged ‘Olympic Plaza. This was where all of the medal ceremonies took place for the Whistler staged events during the 2010 Olympics. Both Friday and Saturday’s concerts are quite eagerly awaited and should prove hugely popular cometh the hour. This site will in fact realistically stage many, many more events over the months and years to come and was one of the planned Olympic legacies. Aside from this weekend’s scheduled concerts, there are several others this month already pencilled in.

I should perhaps also mention the brief, but fortnightly staged ‘LUNAR Flicks’, which are staged around a local lake. Basically there is beer and a BBQ on hand and once it is finally well & truly dark, some previously advertised film will be projected onto the huge screen for everyone to enjoy as they wrap themselves in their jackets and blankets and try to avoid being bitten to death by the ever hungry mosquitoes. I make this sound so appealing don’t I! Truth is, this is another great community event that’s regularly staged and hugely popular (or at least when the weather is dry anyways!).

So, with all this going on, what am I going to spend my weekend doing?

Well, having finished work late Friday afternoon, I will try to rest up, eat well and get off my feet as soon as possible in anticipation of my long ultra trail race on Saturday morning. Hopefully, some 5 hours after my early 7am race start time, I will have safely arrived at the finishing line and will quickly start my recovery phase, by replenishing lost fluids, carbohydrates, protein, etc. There’s a good chance a mid afternoon siesta will need to be on the cards and then hopefully I’ll feel revived and sufficiently refreshed to catch either some of the Warrior Dash antics either before or after I lapse into a brief doze.

Assuming I can recover well and not feel too depleted, Sunday should provide a nice excuse for an escape up the mountains for some short hikes now that some of the huge amounts of remaining snow have been removed. Maybe some more bear sightings, a quick look around the local Sunday market and who knows. The world’s our oyster…!

Who knows, maybe even I’ll have a beer this weekend…..maybe!