The 2007 Emperor?s Challenge Mountain Run is gearing up to be the most brutally exciting event in the nine year history of the race. 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. He is returning this year from Victoria to defend his crown in the epic race on Roman Mountain on Saturday August 11.
Pitted against him on this exacting circular route (which gains and loses 2400 feet and leads over the 6651 foot high summit) will be a novice Emperor?s runner, but an icon in Canadian road-running circles. Steve Osaduik won the Canadian Half Marathon title in 2004 and 2006, but perhaps an even bigger achievement was when this Nanaimo runner announced his presence on the world marathon running stage by breaking the 25 year old record in the Victoria Marathon in 2006 in a time of 2 hrs 17 minutes.
Osaduik is ready to ditch the tar for the tundra in this race. Both runners have Swanson?s 2006 record of 1 hour 34 minutes and 8 seconds in sight. It is anyone?s bet how Swanson?s knowledge of the course, mountain running skills and mastery of the soft alpine surface will fare against Osaduik?s phenomenal speed and endurance on the road. One thing is certain: two of BC?s finest athletes will be on the mountain on August 11 in a veritable Battle of the Titans.
The women?s event promises much excitement of its own. Jen Legault of Edmonton preceded last year?s victory with a third place finish in 2004 and 2nd in 2005. She is returning for this year?s race, hoping to join Stefanie Mills and Marlene Corcoran in the elite group of female runners with two Empress titles under the belt. But in the field for the first time in a number of years is Corcoran herself, who won the initial event in 1999.
Entry numbers are well up on previous years, with over 150 advance registrations already received. A bumper field of well over 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. 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 or 2 kms).
For further information on the Emperor?s Challenge visit www.emperorschallenge.com