On Saturday, over 100 athletes will be taking part in the Penticton Ramada Elevator Race, which sees its course rise over 6,000 feet.
This will be the fifth year for the race, which can be completed as a team or as an individual.
“It’s a 52 kilometre race over six stages,” said Lyndie Hill, race co-ordinator. “It’s an eight km paddle, a road bike of 22 km from there, then a run up Keremeos Creek, which is by far the hardest part of the race, topping out at Apex Mountain Resort. Then the mountain biker heads out to the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre, where the nordic skier does a loop of the Nordic Centre, then connects the power line trail to Apex again. Finally the downhill skier or snowboarder goes down to the bottom of the ski run, then hikes back up to the top before skiing down through the gates and finishing.”
Teams of all sizes are allowed with the option of having one person per stage, or two or three people completing several stages each or completing the entire race in a solo effort, which two people will be attempting this year. With over 100 competitors this year, the elevator race has continued to positively see an increase in participation after debuting with 50 people in its first year. Hill noted next year, they plan to do some advertising in an attempt to pull in out-of-town athletes.
“We wanted to highlight the fact you can do so many sports in Penticton,” she said. “Not only that but in the spring you can paddle and road bike the same day you go skiing. There aren’t that many places in the world you can do that, so we wanted to highlight that Penticton is special.”
The Elevator Race usually takes from four to nine hours to complete, depending on the size of the team. With all of the stages and different locations used in the course of the race, organizing it can have some challenges.
“It’s definitely logistically the most difficult race we organize,” Hill said. “It’s a lot of making sure the right people are in the right place at the right time. It was tough the first year, we didn’t know how long it would take to do each stage. We were actually putting up the finish line as the first team came through, they did it an hour faster than we expected. Because it’s our fifth year it gets easier and easier each time. It’s just so much fun to put on and showcase the area.”
While the race has doubled in size since it began, there is still plenty of room for it to continue to expand. Hill noted their goal is to eventually reach 500 competitors, as they could support that many without impacting the race.
“We have a ton of return athletes every year,” she said. “I think everyone enjoys the community feeling aspect. Finishing on top of the mountain is always an exhilarating feeling. It’s cool to start in the valley bottom and finish on top of the mountain at the end of the day.”
The race begins at 8:30 a.m., and Hill recommends Nickel Plate Nordic Centre or Apex Village as the best spectating locations.