If you’ve ever wanted a chance to beat a World Champion, you’re in luck. Of course, it won’t be easy.
The Alberta World Cup Academy (AWCA), the Canadian training center based in Canmore, Alberta, is hosting the Spray Drag Running Race – and World Champion and Canadian National Ski Team (CNST) member Devon Kershaw is headlining the event.
The idea is pretty similar to the recent ‘Climb to the Castle’ held at Whiteface Mountain in New York state – find a stretch of road that goes uphill, start at the bottom, suffer a lot, end at the top.
In Canmore, this means starting from almost downtown, heading out of town past the Canmore Nordic Center, and up Spray Lakes road, a gravel road that climbs to the top of a pass outside of town – gaining some 1200 feet in elevation.
“He’s always looking for a good running race, and keen to help out,” said Stefan Kuhn, organizer of the event and AWCA assistant coach in a recent interview with FasterSkier.
Kershaw has a reputation as a runner, including running 10 k in 33:46 – at the end of an Olympic-length triathlon (1500 m swim, 40 k bike, 10 k run).
Kershaw will face 7.5 k, almost entirely uphill, while the women will do a slightly shorter 5 k.
Kuhn is hoping for a good turnout – and not just the elite skiers of the AWCA and CNST. He is hoping to entice some of top runners in the Calgary and Banff area into a duel with Kershaw.
“I’d love to see someone push Devon to the finish,” Kuhn said.
The AWCA has run the event before, but only as a small team time trial. Current AWCA and CNST Development team member Graham Nishikawa holds the men’s record, while 2010 Olympian and former AWCA member Madeleine Williams holds the women’s course record.
According to Kuhn, Nishikawa is planning on contesting the event again this year, but Williams will not, leaving the challenge open to a number of other top Canadian women, including some of the CNST World Cup team and Development team.
In terms of reward, the event is a fundraiser for the AWCA, so no prize money will be doled out – just bragging rights if you’re able to bag some of the top skiers in the country.
But Kuhn promises some unique prizes – including gold running singlets for the best male and best female runners on the day.
They have also introduced a new competitive aspect that you don’t see at many events – lactate testing.
For $50 you can enter a 50/50 competition where the AWCA will test your lactate at the finish, and the person with the highest number takes home the prize pot.
Interested in the record? Phil Widmer recorded a 16.4, and nobody has managed to top that mark yet.
The event goes on October 15th, and registration closes on Oct 13th.
For more information, please see the race notice.
Men – Graham Nishikawa (AWCA) – 29:23
Women – Madeleine Williams (AWCA) – 25:41