Kris Swanson has won every single Emperor?s Challenge since the inception of this, ?the world?s toughest and most beautiful half marathon?, in 1999. This stands as one of the greatest achievements in the history of mountain running in western Canada. And the good news is that he is returning this year for the eighth annual Emperor?s Challenge, to be run on Saturday August 12 in the mountains south of Tumbler Ridge.
The race organizing committee, part of the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society, is delighted that Swanson will be back, as he has placed his mark on the race in such an indelible fashion. In addition, he is a wonderful role model for younger athletes. Quite simply, he is the finest athlete Tumbler Ridge has yet produced.
Now living on Vancouver Island, Swanson can?t wait to get into the northern mountains again, and is ready to peak. ?I am intrigued by the new Mathews Gully route?, says Kris, ?it will certainly make the race different and more challenging, and even more of a mountain run. It will be interesting to see what it does to the times. The Emperor?s Challenge is always more than just a test of endurance. For me it is my favourite race in the world, I am sure that everyone who completes it believes it is the most memorable race they have ever done.?
Swanson?s record time is 1-38-37, set in 2003, and this year there will be a number of fine athletes seeking to challenge him for the title of Roman Emperor. The circular route climbs and descends over 2300 feet, passing over the 6651 foot high summit of Roman Mountain, with almost half the route above treeline. Participants are free to run or walk, as long as they finish the 20 km course in under five hours. 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).
Entry numbers are ahead of last year?s, and a bumper field of around 200 participants can be expected to ?Rise to the Challenge? and, in keeping with the race?s motto, ?Run with the Goats, Cruise with the Caribou, and Trot with the Ptarmigan? in some of the finest scenery in western Canada.
For further information on the Emperor?s Challenge visit www.emperorschallenge.com