Sports

Athletes pushed to limit

BIBIANA HOOPER of Team Moving for Life leaves the transition area for the run/snowshoe portion of the annual Penticton Ramada Elevator Race. The team finished 22nd overall. Below, right, Team Swagman’s Dave Michael cruises along a section of Green Mountain Road on the road biking leg of the race. His team was 17th in the standings. The Eckhardt Dental squad was the overall winner in a time of just under four hours.  - Mark Brett/Western News
BIBIANA HOOPER of Team Moving for Life leaves the transition area for the run/snowshoe portion of the annual Penticton Ramada Elevator Race. The team finished 22nd overall. Below, right, Team Swagman’s Dave Michael cruises along a section of Green Mountain Road on the road biking leg of the race. His team was 17th in the standings. The Eckhardt Dental squad was the overall winner in a time of just under four hours.
— image credit: Mark Brett/Western News

Eckhardt Dental duo Tom Evans and Jonathan Caron celebrated a three-peat as the champions of the Penticton Ramada Elevator Race with burgers and beer.

After Evans kicked things off for the team in Okanagan Lake near the SS Sicamous in the paddle portion, they clocked a winning time of three hours, 51 minutes and 58 seconds, achieving their goal to finish in under four hours.

In the process, they defeated the five-person team of Granfondo Axel Merckx, which crossed the finish line in 4:03.20. This year Caron said he and Evans decided to get “greedy” and set a course record.

“Those guys are machines. Those guys are crazy,” said Merckx. “Unbelievable and strong.”

Caron said it was a fun race. Caron said he noticed Merckx trying to make up time during the road bike part, but Caron was able to hold him off finishing in at 1:35.20, while Merckx clocked in at 1:37.37.

“The day was good,” said Caron, admitting that sometimes athletes can be at the mercy of weather conditions. “We were able to go fast all day. That was fun.”

The main change to the course, said Caron, was to the alpine section.

The website description of that leg had athletes ski down the Grandfathers Trail to the base of the Bunny Hill/Magic Carpet. From there skiers/riders run/hike with their gear up to the top of the Okanagan Run, a distance of 3,000-metres and a 1,000-m elevation gain.

From there, competitors strap on their skis/board and proceed down the Okanagan Run through the gated course. While it was short, four-kilometre, Caron said, “it was brutal.”

Caron said that he and Evans intend to go for a fourth straight win next year.

Merckx said it was a fun event to do and admitted it wasn’t easy. He heard about it from Jeff Plant, event manager for Prospera Granfondo Axel Merckx, who competed in the event previously.

“I think it’s a good community event. We like to support the events in the Okanagan and Penticton,” said Merckx.

Merckx added the bike portion was hard. He hasn’t been pushed like that since entering last year’s Oliver Half Iron.

Kevin Cutjar, a triathlon coach, said it was a tough course and at the start he just wanted to make sure he stayed out of the water during the paddle section. Cutjar admitted the course pushes him to the limit.


“This hike up the Okanagan run after going for about four hours and then hiked up was pretty tough,” said Cutjar, who was the lone solo competitor. “It is a good challenge.”

Cutjar said the Penticton Ramada Elevator Race is fun and the event provides a great atmosphere.

“They put on an awesome event,” said Cutjar of the organizers. “Just great atmosphere up there. Spring time at Apex. It’s perfect.”

Lyndie Hill, chief executive officer for Hoodoo Adventures and organizer of The Penticton Ramada Elevator Race, said the day was awesome.

The event attracted 135 athletes and 25 teams. In the future, it is hoped to attract 500 athletes and 50 teams.

“It’s really good,” she said. “It’s catching good pace in the last few years. I just think the race is gaining good momentum. People are starting to talk about it. It’s just a unique race.”

Hill was also pleased to have non-locals participate with one competitor from Ecuador, a Switzerland team and Vancouver.

For more details on the race, visit www.theelevatorrace.ca.

 

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