The Emperor?s Challenge Mountain Run, the toughest and most beautiful half marathon in the world takes place in the mountains above Tumbler Ridge each summer. This circular course gains and loses 2330 feet and leads runners and walkers over the 6651 foot high summit of Roman Mountain. A challenging kids? race covers exactly one tenth of the adult distance.

Five time winner of the Men?s event, Kris Swanson, will be pitting his skills against the mountain once again. Currently in Australia, Swanson will be returning just in time for the race, which is his favourite on the running circuit.

Thanks to a generous donation from Hawkair, two top female athletes are flying in for the race from Vancouver. Claire Swanson, formerly on the Canadian mountain biking team, has turned her attention in recent years to mountain running, and was selected for the Canadian team in the World Mountain Running Trophy event in Alaska in 2003. Stefanie Mills is a ten-time member of the Canadian national team in cross country and road races., and is also concentrating more on trail and mountain running. The female run should turn into a fascinating event as these elite athletes challenge the mountain along with regional runners.

On August 7, 2004 this increasingly popular race will be held for the sixth time. Last year six runners gained their coveted ?in perpetuity? number, for having completed five ?campaigns? on behalf of the Roman Emperor. This year one entrant, Lori Spinney, has the opportunity to join this elite group of athletes.

The event kicks off with a toga evening, bib pickup and motivational slideshow and talks on the Friday evening in the Tumbler Ridge Community Centre. The Saturday race is followed by a prizegiving at the finish at the Core Lodge site. As the Core Lodge burned down last winter, large tents are being put up at the site. Duke Energy and Talisman have each donated $750 towards catering for the race.

This year the adult field is being capped at 200 entries, in order to prevent congestion at one bottleneck, where a rope guides participants safely down a gap in the cliffs. Register on-line at www.emperorschallenge.com or print off an entry form and mail it in with a cheque. Deadline for entries is 22 July 2004.