Nothing stopped the Elevator Race from reaching a successful stop.
Twenty-two teams dealt with cold, snowy conditions as they flew into the finish line at Apex Mountain’s Gunbarrel Saloon.
Johnathon Caron and Tom Evans (named Eckhardt Dental), who won the race, felt that it went smooth aside from logistical things that can be improved. To Evans, the event was impressive in its debut that involved so many different stages and such unpredictable weather.
“There’s a lot of things that could have made it more difficult. In the snowshoe portion, there was not any deep snow,” said Evans, who with Caron completed the race in 3:53.44. “That made it easier. Then in the mountain bike section, I was watching Johnathon and he was struggling. So were a lot of people because the roads weren’t plowed very well and it was deep snow.”
Before heading off on the bike, the two released air from Caron’s tire to help make that leg of the course easier. Dealing with the conditions made it an adventure for Caron.
“You hope that is going to go well,” said Caron, who was still waving all over the roads.
“There was a lot of unknowns considering it’s a new event and very weather dependent,” said Evans. “It went probably better than expected.”
The two jokingly disagreed about which were the toughest parts picking the parts they each completed. During the competition, both knew they had to be quick getting to the stops. Evans arrived early at one and surprised Caron.
“He was inside having a coffee when I finished the snowshoe,” said Evans.
“I wasn’t expecting him to be that quick. We lost a few minutes there,” said Caron smiling.
Finishing behind them was We’re Here For the Beer Too at 4:34.44. Chris Neenan, one of the members, said it was fun.
“It’s an awesome race,” said Neenan, partnered with Andrew Drouin and David Matheson. Neenan said that the altitude and weather presented challenges.
Gerald Watson of Salty’s echoed Neenan’s sentiments and added that hitting a full sprint after was hard. They finished third with seven members on the team.
“Tells you how good the other guys were,” said Watson, adding that his group was made up of amateurs. “We were the first ones out of the water.”
Kevin Cutjar, named the SOLO Triathlon Warrior, competed alone and finished fourth in 4:39.16.
When asked about being the lone athlete competing solo, Cutjar said, “Someone had to do it.”
Not being much of a paddler, it took Cutjar 41 minutes, 10 seconds to complete that opening section. The toughest part for the Ironman participant was the nordic skiing in soft conditions, especially at Nickel Plate.
“The man is hands down a legend,” said Hoodoo Adventures Mike Hill, when talking about Cutjar’s finish. “To have a guy of his stature compete in our race, it’s like having Tiger Woods show up at your golf tournament.”
As for the race itself, Cutjar said, “it was awesome.”
“I had a great time,” said Cutjar, who helped the organizers by encouraging athletes he trains to take part. “I’m surprised with Ironman competitors that there wasn’t more solos.”
Cutjar said this event can grow.
“It is intimidating as it’s a long way up,” he said. “I think anyone who does these things can do it. If you have a good understanding of endurance, you just apply what you know to do this race.”
Hill, and wife Lyndie organized the Elevator Race with support from the Ramada Inn. He said they were happy with how it turned out. He said their only issue was that some of the athletes were so fast. They had to make sure the transition areas were in place. The highlight for him was seeing the smiles and high fives and camaraderie on all the athletes’ faces.
“From the first stage to the last, people seemed to have a lot of fun which was ultimately our goal,” said Hill, adding that $500 was raised and will be used for a Penticton Indian Band Youth Leadership Awareness Program.
Hill said feedback was overwhelmingly positive. They are also grateful that Cutjar gave his support to the event, which gave it instant credibility.
“We have learned a lot of lessons,” said Hill. “We want to make it better next year.”