An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: Warriors, ‘boogiers’ and concerts

Phew! What a weekend to come through! I for one am still trying to catch my breathe. Heaps of events, thousands of visitors, perfect weather – Whistler doesn’t get much better!

Not sure if the scheduling was as meticulous as it could have been, but there was certainly plenty to view or take part in. I guess the first event of the steamy weekend was the first of the free concerts staged in the Celebration Plaza. I’ve not read or seen any official figures, but there must have been well over a thousand spectators and partiers strewn around this area, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the gig.

I personally was aching to get home, rather than standing up as I was trying to get off my feet and ready for my 50km trail race the next morning. So this was how my Saturday was forming. Early start to travel down to Squamish and ready for the 7am start of the Tenderfoot Boogie ultra trail race. There was also a 50 mile and 28km option, but seeing how I will be running a 50 mile race for charity in a few weeks, I decided for once to be sensible and not thoroughly trash myself on a longer run (surely I could still do this over 50kms!).

And so, in the depths of the bush and mosquito homeland, we took off along the route, ready or not, here we were. Needless to say there is no such thing really as an ‘easy’ 50km race and as we struggled over rocks, roots, railway lines, along the highway and some seriously long vertical that led to way too much ‘power walking’, I think I can speak for most when I say, this was tough! It was also way hotter than you’d ideally like and taking on sufficient fluids, carbohydrates and electrolytes was crucial. Great run though, stunning scenery along the way (if you could block out the pain long enough to look around!) and a good win for me.

Now, my somewhat unrealistic goal of the day was to finish this race, hop on a bus back to Whistler village and try to catch some of the fun ‘Warrior Dash’ that over 4000 had registered for. As I said, unrealistic and I didn’t manage to catch any of the action, but did see countless warriors caked in mud and proudly adorning their warrior helmets as their badge of honour. By all accounts this was quite the tough course. A 5km assault course, rappelling, scrambling under nets, jumping over a fire pit, sprinting up some serious mountain ascents – a good workout and evidently everyone was in great spirits afterwards. This was the inaugural staging of this event in Whistler and given this relatively new event’s (the ‘Warrior Dash series is only around 3 years old from it’s humble, but very popular beginnings) cult following across North America and now also Australia, I think we can expect to see it on next years calendar here again.

Another big event was the ‘newly’ designed and named trail bike race, the ‘Ride of Valkyrie’. This race replaced the longstanding ‘Cheakamus Challenge’ and it’s location and choice of trails slightly tweaked to sample some of the finest biking trails to be found. This was as ever a very demanding and popular biking race that are always sought after and very well attended in these parts of the world. My only thoughts over this race are that at times, those of us running the trail run, were facing a constant tide of oncoming bikers as we were evidently sharing some of the same trail as we tried to ascend some very long and steep course as the bikers flew downward with understandable glee. No-one came to any harm that I’m aware of, but I wonder if the respective race organisers conversed about the clash of dates and small part of each others route….I have a feeling maybe at least one of them would have had some thoughts on the matter of being on ‘his’ course!

On a slightly sour note, we hear that yet more bears have had to be put down. Again it seems that our idiocy has been the cause once more as some very much misguided individual/s thought a good idea to feed these beautiful creatures. Guess what – give them a bountiful source of easy food supply….they will come back! We then have the nerve to complain about it?!!

Every year it’s the same old story. Always a few good bears sacrificed or culled in the name of public safety or stupidity. It’s almost a fact that we simply have to accept as the price to pay for moving in and developing our own little paradise in their backyard. Every year we chastise those that are either directly or indirectly involved in their demise. Every year we publish more words about how we should all be more ‘bear aware’ and we can do to help, but there’s always those who won’t be told, too stupid to know better or simply have no respect for others. Karma is a big word around these parts and I guess what goes around may very well come around some day!