Record setting finish at 18th Annual Emperor's Challenge

In the end, it was a record setting day, but in the beginning things looked ominous at best.

At the 18th annual Emperor’s Challenge in Tumbler Ridge on Saturday, Aug. 6, windy and wicked weather wreaked havoc on a crew trying to set up for the race Friday night and Saturday, when the race finally did kick off, rain and fog added an extra element for runners to deal with.

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“It was actually really amazing because on Friday it was a severe electrical storm. Our guys ... came out to sent up the tents and they were worried that they were going to get zapped,” race organizer Jerrilyn Schembri said.

“Saturday morning … it was quite muddy then just as the race was starting it slowed down just to a mist.”

The weather may have slowed down the racers and in turn, with 1,049 participants registered and more than 700 showing up, 695 people finished the race in 2016. That’s a record in the 18-year history, according to Schembri.

“I was super happy. I think all of the comments I have heard have been positive and everybody seemed to be really thrilled with the race and how it was run,” she added. 

The quiet legacy of Kris Swanson continued at the race, as the Victoria native was once again victorious with a time of one hour and 31 minutes and 57 seconds in the 20-kilometre race that travels up and down Mount Babcock. Swanson has won the race 17 of the 18 years it has been run.

Fort St. John was also well represented at the race, as 17-year-old Bailey Haugan was the fastest female, crossing the line in 1:45:42, one minute ahead of her mom Nicki, who finished in 1:46:20. Jay Morrison also had a strong showing for the community, finishing in fourth place overall with a time of 1:38:09.

The oldest competitor in the race is usually 84-year-old Eugene Barton, but since he wasn’t able to make it this time around because of an illness, 76-year-old Tor-Arne Gjertsen took that honour. Gjertsen is a Norwegian researcher who was studying the race.

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