CANMORE – A black bear nosing on the trail couldn’t stop Calgary’s Chad Eastman from winning the annual TransRockies Race Series Rundle’s Revenge 50-kilometre race on Sunday (June 23) at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
The trail runner crossed the line with a time of 4:50:41, just over two minutes faster than second place's Michael Vargo of Edmonton.
It was on lap three that Eastman, competing in his first cross-country running race in the Rockies, was caught off guard by the bruin on course.
“I was yelling a lot of ‘hey bears’ to try to get him off the trail, but it’s also kind of exciting, too, it gets the heart going a little bit and picks up the pace a little bit, so it was fun,” said Eastman, who was equipped with bear spray. “I wasn’t expecting to see any wildlife because of the weather, but the sun came out and bears came out.”
In a mix of sunshine, clouds and spits of rain, Eastman entered the 50-km race with zero expectations and prioritized on eating lots of food throughout his run and keeping his knees high while dashing along the mountain trails.
“I ran a 50-miler last October and bonked super hard in the middle of it because I wasn’t eating enough and I just demolished my race, so I was trying to get as much calories down as I could and keeping my strides long,” he said.
The fastest local man and woman in the 50-km were Canmore’s Steve Sellers, crossing the line in 12th overall, and Courtney Burk, finishing 22nd.
Canmore’s Erik Carleton powered to second place overall in the 25-km race and was first in the men’s 40+ category at a time of 1:57:40. The Canmore runner didn’t encounter any wildlife during the race, but saw conservation officers making their presence known on the course.
“I saw C.O. with a big rifle, so there must have been a bear around,” he said. “You can’t really shout when you’re running hard, but you just try to breath loud.”
Canmore’s Tara Newbigging was the fastest local woman in the 25-km, finishing second in the open women’s race at a time of 2:37:02.
In the 12.5-km race, Canmore’s Jan Hruska dominated the field at a time of 55 minutes and 16 seconds, just under nine minutes in front of second place’s Ben O’Rourke of Edmonton.
Hruska mostly trains for longer distances, but wanted a challenge to see where he stacked up in the shorter race built for speed.
“I live in Canmore and it’s a good opportunity to test my running abilities … this race was a small running test,” he said.
Just missing the podium in the 12.5-km were Canmore’s Darren Schmidt and Alaric Fish, finishing in fourth and fifth, respectively.
The quickest local woman was Megan Dalrymple, finishing 21st overall at a time of 1:20:37. Dalrymple crossed the finish line 10 seconds faster than fellow Canmorite Reinira Lankhuijzen, who finished 23rd.
In the 7-km race, Calgary’s Matthew Cook was the overall winner. The top local woman and man were Robi Fish, in fifth, and Thomas Pappas finishing 23rd.
For more race results, visit Zone4.ca.