Kris Swanson wins 20th Emperor's Challenge

Phil Phelan, Julianne Kucheran, top male and female from Fort St. John.

It's a feat that will make you look twice, but it's true — by winning the 20th Emperor's Challenge on August 11, Kris Swanson claimed his 19th Emperor's Challenge title. Swanson, from Victoria, won the 20km race in a time of one hour and 25 minutes. That's four minutes faster than his 2017 time of 1:29:24.

“My admiration for the race organizers to so consistently run this event with such preparation and competence runs deep. The positive energy that radiates in the Tumbler Ridge community during the time of the Emperor’s Challenge is infectious. Every year my experience here leaves me with a refreshed spirit," said Swanson. 

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Lindsay Carson, a member of the Canadian Cross Country Running Team, broke the previous women's record, finishing in a time of 1:39:42 and placing fourth overall. Jocelyn Poirier-Hardy was right behind her in fifth with a time of 1:41:12, also breaking the previous women's record. 

Rounding out the top five overall finishers were Shaun Stephens-Whale of Roberts Creek and Brandon Wladyko, who had times of 1:36:16 and 1:36:18 respectively. 

There was a new fastest male from Fort St. John, as Phil Phelan finished third in the men's 35-49 division and 131th overall with a time of 1:49:16. Josh Slykhuis was the fastest Fort St. John winner in 2017. 

For the women, Julianne Kucheran was the fastest runner from Fort St. John, finishing with a time of 2:01:49, good enough for 53rd overall. Kucheran was the fastest female in 2017, and missed her old mark by just 21 seconds. She was fourth in the women's 19-34 division. 

Across the 20km, 4km and 2km runs, the 20th Emperor's Challenge had 857 finishers, the most in the event's history. The race regularly fills up registration, but usually has around 700 finishers. The organizing committee extended the registration capacity to 1,100 people this year, by all measures a smart decision which resulted in the most runners ever. 

Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at

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