Six kids from Tumbler Ridge decided to move on from the kids? races to the full 20 km event in the Emperor?s Challenge. In doing so they challenged Roman Mountain and gained and lost 2400 feet, approached caribou, and enjoyed an unforgettable day in perfect weather conditions.
Esther Walkley (Grade 10), Sheena Walkley (Grade 8) and Natalie Sharman (Grade 8) already had the amazing accomplishment of having done the kids? race seven times. For these athletes, accustomed to many races on the track or on skis, it was a question of staying the distance, being inspired by the mountain scenery, and gaining the coveted finisher?s medal. Natalie powered through in 3 hours and two minutes, while Esther and Sheena ran and finished together in 3-13.
For the Fry family, the challenge was different. Spurred on by the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society?s Flatbed Loops fitness runs, they made a family decision to try the Emperor?s Challenge. Crystal (Grade 8) finished in 4-03, while Jaimie (Grade 9) walked the route, and snuck in just under the five hour cut-off to great applause from the crowd.
For Daniel Helm (Grade 10) it was his third Emperor?s Challenge. He showed his dad a clean pair of heels to finish in 2 hours and 2 seconds in 5th position. Next year he wants to break the 2 hour barrier and has his sights set on the podium.
From the perspective of the race organizing committee, these young athletes not only add to the richness of ?the world?s toughest and most beautiful half marathon?, but their achievement may inspire others to follow. They demonstrate that a bit of training in pursuit of a dream yields results, and makes anything possible.