Ashley McMillan blog - the most scenic half marathon in town

SO this weekend saw the second running of the very scenic Whistler half marathon. It’s been billed as the most scenic course around…and it’s probably not far off.

There aren’t too many big events put on like this where every which way you turn, there are views of mountain peaks, lakes and golf courses. It brought around 1000 runners to its starting line up and I think after the DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) has begun to dissipate, most will concur that they had a great time.

Speaking of which, subsequently there has been some murmurings and debate as to the accuracy of the course as records were broken and numerous PB’s were had by those out there. Difficult to understand as the course was certified just a week or so earlier, but let none of this detract from anyone who ran well and had fun (yes, it is possible to have ‘fun’ whilst running 21.1km’s or 13.1 miles).

Other local news was a little sad when it was reported that a bear in the Whistler area had to be ‘put down’. This is always sad to hear, but through varying reasons, happens all too often, not always through any fault of the bear, but typically because of human interaction and poor behaviour by us, the bear has become too intrigued or got the scent of food, etc. It is then euthanized for the ‘safety’ (read ‘stupidity’) of mankind. Well, this latest report was a little different.

Evidently a gentleman was relaxing in a hot tub when he suddenly felt a huge thump to the back of his head. It turned out that a bear had stumbled upon him and ‘swatted’ him. Although instances like this are very, very rare, the problems are usually because folk are leaving their barbeques left uncleaned or doors and windows open with the waft of food emanating, or worse yet, pulling over the side of highways and getting out of vehicles to take photos, etc (the latter just as likely to cause road accidents than problems to the bears).

The bears of course are not the only ones who can cause concern around the valley as we head into the warmer, drier, weather (just maybe anyway!!). Despite being a ‘wetland’ area, the huge expanse of land up and down highway 99 (also known as the ‘Sea to Sky Highway) can become something of a tinder box after several days of hot, dry weather. We’re fairly fortunate not to have too many fires seen around our village, but forest fires around this part of British Columbia are quite prevalent during the summer months. It doesn’t take much sometimes, just one idiot smoking who decides to drop a match or cigarette out in some of the trails or bushes and catastrophe can hit.

Similarly these forest fires can be caused by lightning strikes. I myself have been stuck hiking on Whistler Mountain to see the awesome sight of lightning bolts coming straight down and all of a sudden…a puff of smoke appears. You may want to come back down in the gondola at this point, but as I’ve found out too often, do you really want to be perched in a big tin can held aloft by a set of pulleys and cables with lighting bolts firing away??! I had to think twice too before deciding I’d be safer waiting for any other means of transport to come down. As I was saying tough, we’re a little way away from hot, humid lightning inducing weather or endless dry and sunny days!!

Weather predictions aside, we are entering the summer season of events. Yes, the summer sightseeing is underway with the Peak to Peak (infamous gondola linking both Blackcomb and Whistler mountains, some 4.4kms in length and over 1400 feet above the ground) opening a couple of weeks back. However, it is next weekend on the 16th when operations really kick into gear. The summer multi activity kids zone (kids being entertained by horses, huge slides, climbing walls, mini golf, bungee trampoline to mention but a few activities to keep the little guys busy for hours) opens along with the always popular ‘Farmers market’, where vendors bring their local produce and art, crafts and other general all-round deliciousness. The smells of freshly baked goods are enough to draw me in most weekends The following weekend the mountains hours are extended even longer and even more events kick in including the re-opening of the summer glacier skiing (does it ever end?!).

I’m both excited and tired just thinking about it all and it just builds and builds from here. Yes, I do believe summer is my favourite time here in Whistler. Anyone disagree? You’re going to have a hard time explaining your thinking against this part of the world in the mountain to this author.