Gearing up for the Emperor’s Challenge

The eighth annual Emperor?s Challenge Mountain Half Marathon will take place on Saturday August 12th on Roman Mountain, 35 kms south of Tumbler Ridge. Hosted by the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society, this event, billed as the toughest and most beautiful half marathon in the world, has been attracting increasing numbers of athletes from across western Canada, and as far away as the USA and England. There was a record field of 195 in 2005.

Kris Swanson has entrenched himself as Emperor of Roman Mountain, winning all seven previous runs, and his record time of 1-38-37 seems invincible. Stephanie Mills of Victoria set the women?s record in 2004, blazing the route in 1-48-12, and she successfully defended her title in 2005. Although the event is an ultra-tough race for these outstanding competitors, it is simply a challenge and a test of endurance for most ordinary mortals. In 2005 the youngest and oldest participants were ten and sixty-five. Eleven adults and six kids have received their coveted ?in perpetuity? numbers for completing five Emperor?s Challenges.

The organizing committee is streamlining the race, making entering simpler. There will no longer be separate running and walking categories, just the challenge of the race, with participants free to run or walk as they wish, earning a finisher?s medal if they finish the course in under five hours.

The route is 21.1 km long and circular, gaining and losing around 2400 feet as it climbs right over the 6651 foot high windblown alpine summit of Roman Mountain. At one point a rope helps participants up a short rocky band. Almost half the race is above treeline.

The race was run clockwise for the first time in 2005, yielding amazing mountain views and fast times, as well as making racing safer. There will be a small change of a few hundred meters in the course in 2006, without altering the total distance, to accommodate NEMI mining activity. The first four kilometers pass close to the coal mine, after that the route is in wilderness all the way. The summit is reached at km 7.5, followed by a long downhill reward with the magnificent scenery of the northern Rockies ranges in racer?s faces.

Kids are catered to through tough races of their own, of exactly one fifth or one tenth the adult distance (4.2 or 2.1 kms). A festive atmosphere prevails at the Core Lodge, which is the hub of the race, with a marquis, massages, refreshments, awards ceremony and much more. The event is spectator friendly, and telescopes are trained on the summit to see who crests it first. There is nothing else quite like this? anywhere. Whether running, walking or watching, RISE TO THE CHALLENGE?. the Emperor?s Challenge! For further information please call Race Director Doug Foerster (242 5870) or visit www.emperorschallenge.com